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Steve Gray sworn in on Ballinger City Council

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register
Ballinger native, and owner of Ballinger Printing, Steve Gray, has thrown his hat in the ring in a bid for District 4 on the Ballinger City Council.

Ballinger Printing & Graphics owner, Steve Gray, was elected to the Ballinger City Council, Single Member District 4. Gray was sworn in at the city council meeting on Monday. Gray's father, Steve Gray, is retired from the Ballinger Police Department and the Runnels County Sheriff's department, where he continues to serve as a reserve deputy.

Gray has been vocal about actions the city has taken in the past, regularly attending council meetings and either voicing support or concerns, whichever the case may be. Gray gave an interview regarding his decision to run for council and his expectations. The actions taken, or not taken, by the council effect Gray as a citizen and as a business owner.

Why did you decide to run for council?

I have been active at council meetings and with the city in general for many years and it just feels likea natural progression for me. The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today. I probably should have done this years ago, but i am doing this today.

There has been a great deal of turmoil this year with council members resigning in protests, going through 2 city managers, etc. Why seek a position now?

The world is changing at a rate unseen in recorded history. Because of this, when we had all the turmoil in the past, I was fielding calls from people who I have never me,t from all parts of the state along with out of state calls from locals who no longer lived in the area wanting to know what on earth is going on in little Ballinger, Texas. So, becoming the unofficial spokes person for what has been going on coupled, with the fact that this is my town and i do expect better of her, is why i threw my hat in the ring. I basically want the best for my town and i have a vision of what it can be.

What do you see as the biggest challenges to the council and the city?

Progress is one of the biggest challenges facing our town. The mentality of we have never done it that way therefore it we don't need to do that is a harbinger of death for small towns in this day and age. If your city is not growing, it is dying. Everybody hates the insane tax rates and the high water bills. The only way to alleviate these problems is to add to our base. The city has to spend a certain amount on water every month by contract (which guarantees us water  or we would run out.) We roughly have 1500-1600 people buying water there that they have to bear that cost. We can not sell the water at a loss, so the only way to get taxes and other prices to possibly go down is increasing our population. and the only way to increase the population is to give people a reason to come here and stay

You've been a regular attendee at council meetings throughout the year. You've directly addressed the council regarding, "optics." Do you believe that the council has improved in that area or is there still work to be done?

Somewhat but we still have a long way to go. Press releases should be going out on a regular basis just to keep the public informed about what is going on, and especially when we have something special like a new chain store building a location in town. That should have been a press release months ago because that means jobs, sales tax and property tax. It could mean people possibly moving into town, which will either mean rent being paid or the sale of a home, which is money coming into our economy. Everyone should be excited about this period, and, with all the bad news we have had, you should want to put out good news whenever possible. If i hadn't been at the city council meeting when they talked to the O'Reilly's people, I would not have know what was going on until the sign went up.

What do you feel that council has done well?

I think one of the best thing that has been done by the Ballinger City Council is the hiring of our new city manager, Brian Frieda.

What do you envision for the future of Ballinger?

I would like to see Ballinger begin to prosper. There really is no reason it can't knowing the history of Ballinger. People know what we have been, as well as what we could become once again. I want to be part of the resurgence of Ballinger and the surrounding area.