LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - "I kept hearing Lufkin is just a well-kept secret. It's just a well-kept secret," said Mayor of Lufkin, Jack Gorden.
Gorden says he has spent six years in office, improving the quality of life in his Lufkin hometown. He says he's added jobs and brought more money into the community.
"When I first ran for mayor, my number one goal was creating good paying jobs for the people of Lufkin, in this area. And, in that time frame, the economy was beginning to take a dip. And, I thought maybe I can be of some help in easing Lufkin through that transition of the off economy," said Gorden.
Gorden says he brought the city through tough economic times and is responsible for, what he calls, a now thriving community. His slogan, "We Need Jack Back", reminds the community of the work he's put into building a strong and resourceful city. Gorden says some of his efforts have been directed into doubling the size of the civic center through government grants.
"I think it's going to be something that the citizens of Lufkin are going to be proud of. And, it will attract more people and businesses to our community, which is the whole idea," said Gorden.
He also says he's pushed the revitalizing of the downtown area, including his proposed ordinance for businesses to enhance their storefronts.
"Downtown is the heart of our community," said Gorden.
But, Gorden's opponent, former Chamber of Commerce president, Bob Brown says the work should not just stop with downtown.
"I am for the whole city," said mayoral candidate, Bob Brown. "I'm not just for downtown. And, I think that sometimes we get lost in that, that we just single out one thing. But, everybody, we need to expand this whole city and not just downtown."
Both candidates agree that the city's water rights must continue to be protected.
Gorden says it was his hard work, along with other city leaders who are responsible for Lufkin never having to ration water during last year's drought.
"You'll notice, last summer, most every town and city in Texas was rationing water. Lake Nacogdoches practically dried up. There was rationing everywhere, not in Lufkin," said Gorden.
With his background in electric co-op, Brown says he knows how important it is that everyone works together to achieve a common goal. The city's water, he says, is one of the resources critical to his plans for job creation.
"We do have plenty of water and industry will come because we do have that. And, there's a lot of communities that don't have that. But, I think the main thing we have is the "can-do" citizens of this community that are willing to do whatever to make this a better place to live," said Brown.
Brown acknowledges successes in Gorden's term, but says Lufkin needs even more change. He says everyone needs to come together and open up more jobs.
"I would just love to see the city, the county, Angelina College, the public schools, and the Chamber of Commerce getting together with a voice that is strong for jobs," said Brown.
As the new guy, so to speak, Brown says he's hoping to be the voice of the people.
"This is just a new role in my life that I would like to be in a leadership role and listen to the community," said Brown.
Brown says different organizations and offices are not working as a team. He says he hopes to help change that and get everyone on the same page in order to make the city stronger.
"The main thing that I want to do is be a little more inclusive in what's going on right now. We're getting to a little closed shop, and I want to kind of move things forward and open things back up," said Brown.
Both men hope to be a driving force in the city of Lufkin's future.
Early voting begins April 30. Election day is May 12.