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Midland Mayoral Candidates Debate On Full Display In The First Of Two Televised Debates

By Mitch Borden

With just a month left until the November elections, Midland’s Mayoral race is heating up. 

The three candidates vying for the Tall City’s top elected position met last night for the first of two televised debates to spar over their views of the state of Midland and how the community should move forward in the midst of an oil boom.

Each candidate -- incumbent Mayor Jerry Morales, businesswoman Jenny Cudd, and former pastor Patrick Patton -- is conservative. But, they all have their own philosophy they want to bring to Midland -- the community at the heart the Permian Basin and America's oil industry.

Morales is looking to be elected for a third term. He first took office in 2014 when Midland was in the middle of a sudden and unexpected oil boom. That experience is his main argument for his reelection. Morales said, now isn’t the time to switch leaders as Midland is expected to see even more growth in the coming years.

“Today is not the time for change. You have got a mayor that has built relationships with other tax entities. He understands the infrastructure issues. He understands the cyclical environment. Keeps those relations. Keep the unity. Keep the team leader. Keep the experience”

But candidate and flower shop owner Jenny Cudd is taking aim at Morales, espcially with her campaign slogan: “Midland Deserves Better.”

Cudd believes the current city administration has wasted taxpayers' money, which she says needs to stop and that city taxes should be cut.

According to her, “I personally believe that there are always other options than increasing taxes and asking for more money from the community." Cudd thinks the city should partner more with businesses on certain projects. That would benefit Midland residence more, in her opinion, than the city increasing its taxes. She said, "I strongly believe the private sector always does things better than the public, and espcially the governmental, sector.”

Cudd also said a lot of Midland’s problems --- like the current housing shortage -- could be solved if city leaders stepped out of the way of citizens finding creative solutions.

Patrick Payton, a former pastor at a local Megachurch, on the other hand, didn’t go as far as to say the city was standing in the way of progress. He does believe that Midland residents deserve a more organized government that can explain how their taxes are being spent.

Payton said, “As a city, we have rarely presented to our citizens a business plan." Midland officials have had scattered goals, but never a clear road map of the community's priorities according to Payton, which he said is a problem. "If we don’t say what were going to do and prioritize that, we’re going to always have arguments over taxes.”

All three candidates will meet again for another Mayoral debate on October 15th at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Midland. 

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.