In an interview on the News@Nine Oct. 3, commissioner candidate Jason Corley (Pct. 2) expressed reluctance to endorse and support the proposed Lubbock County Expo Center, saying private business would be more effective at such a project than local government. Similarly, on the News@Nine Oct. 18, candidate Chad Seay (Pct. 4) said he couldn't support the proposal due to what he saw as a lack of accountability.
After a Tuesday night meeting in Slaton with concerned voters, stakeholders, and the Expo Center's steering committee, Corley said he is willing to endorse the proposal, but Seay said he is still hesitant over concerns about cost overages.
Corley said the steering committee agreed to allow county commissioners to nominate members of the non-profit board of directors that will oversee the Expo Center, which was enough to earn his support. He said he believes the committee is capable of limiting cost overages, but the accountability issue was his holding point.
"I did not want to create an unelected, unappointed board," Corley said after the meeting, "that the Lubbock County voter had no control over; that is a huge concern for me. If we're going to put taxpayer dollars toward any project, the voter needs to be in control."
Seay still withheld his endorsement, saying he is skeptical of costs to build the facility. He cites hikes in building materials or material and fuel availabilities as sticking points, saying he won't support a proposal that would put county taxpayers on the line for extra expenses.
"if you look in the past, we did the detention center," Seay said. "We were told $80 million; look what happened, it ended up over $100 million. Well, we were on the hook for that; taxpayers are the ones that raised the taxes to pay it through bonds, and that's what they elected to do at $80 million, but we got stuck with $100 million. So, what's going to happen to this?"
Seay said the $10 million advocates plan to raise in private money for the Expo Center is only earmarked for its operation and maintenance, not its construction. He said he will "scream to the heavens" in opposition to the Expo Center's board not having county oversight, but it will be up to the elected commissioners.
Seay said the South Plains Fair is doing upgrades that could provide the same service as the Expo Center, relieving all taxpayers of the pressure; he also said a South Lubbock resident on Slide Road plans to build a multi-purpose arena, and he would not want to have the county compete with someone who has their own agenda.
"If it fails, it's on them," he said, "it's not on the taxpayer."
Randy Jordan was a guest on the News@Nine Tuesday night, saying the steering committee has prepared both financially and with accountability in mind.
Early voting runs through Nov. 2; Election Day is Nov. 6.