By Brandon Evans | Published Wednesday, February 5, 2014
For eight years, Rhome Mayor Chris Moore has served as a member of the city council and most recently as mayor of the third-largest city in Wise.
But Moore, who also serves as assistant chief for the Rhome Volunteer Fire Department, said he will not be on the ballot in the city’s May election.
“I think I’m done,” Moore said. “A man can only take so much.”
“People just won’t let things go. It’s always one thing or another. The last workshop we had was about nothing but the fire department.”
A topic at multiple council meetings and the primary focus of a council workshop held late last month was whether a member of city council can also serve as a member of the volunteer fire department.
After the workshop, a majority of council appeared ready to pass an ordinance at the next meeting stipulating no more than two members of the council, including the mayoral position, can serve on the Rhome Fire Department. Those council members also can’t vote on issues related to the fire department, the proposed ordinance adds.
“I’m tired of it,” Moore said. “And I can’t get the city council to fix it. I don’t have a vote. I know I have a voice, but they have their minds made up, and I’m fed up.”
Moore plans to finish his term through the May election.
With his decision not to run, former longtime mayor Mark Lorance has filed for the position. His hope is to get the council to focus on big-picture projects and stop sweating the small stuff so much.
“The council seems to be snipping at each other a little too much,” Lorance said. “I’d like to see the council get back to projects that focus on growth. We have to focus on growth. The housing market is coming back with a vengeance. We have the potential for a lot of growth to come to this city.”
Lorance knows about big projects. After serving two years as a council member and 10 more as mayor, he stepped away from office for the last couple of years to focus squarely on his work as a civil engineer. His firm recently helped complete a 14-mile segment of the Chisholm Trail Parkway, a 28-mile toll road connecting south Fort Worth and Cleburne, scheduled to open this spring.
His company also helped complete a 30-mile section of the Grand Parkway, a 180-mile loop around a seven-county greater-Houston metropolitan area which will open to traffic sometime in 2015.
“Those were career projects for me,” he said. “It took up 110 percent of my time.”
If elected, Lorance wants to use some of that time to get the council working as a group again on bigger issues. He said he wouldn’t mind if every member of the council also served on the fire department.
“We’ve got bigger issues to focus on,” Lorance said.
One of those issues is the water and sewer department.
“It lost about $400,000,” said city auditor Peter Chaney. “It can’t continue this way. You’re going to have to increase rates. There is no alternative. You can’t continue to have another year like this. You might be able to do that in Washington, D.C., but not in Rhome, Texas.”
Lorance said the city has lost some revenue in that area due to the slowdown in oil and gas development in the region.
“We used to sell a lot of water to the oil and gas industry,” Lorance said. “That has gone away. We also had some maintenance issues, but that can always pop up. We are going to have to look at a new rate structure.”
So far Lorance has drawn no other competitors in the race.
“I look forward to working with the council,” Lorance said. “We can accomplish a lot if we work together.”
The May race also has two city council positions up for election. Incumbents Jo Ann Wilson and Michelle Pittman have been the only two to file so far for those spots.