Twenty-five-year-old Chris Woolsey is about to become the youngest member of Corsicana City Council. As the only candidate running for the city’s Precinct 3 council seat, Woolsey will automatically take office after the May 4 municipal election date.
Even though he’s got the job, Woolsey isn’t taking his future constituents for granted. He’s out knocking on doors—but instead of campaigning, he’s asking Corsicana residents what priorities they want their soon-to-be council member to address.
Woolsey himself has resided in Corsicana for three years. The San Antonio native graduated from Texas A&M and taught high school for a year before being recruited to work at Collin Street Bakery.
He happily settled into his new hometown and soon bought a house. That’s when he began experiencing firsthand some of the local government’s problems. After only one year in his new house, he told Texas Scorecard, his property taxes went up an astonishing 30 percent.
Woolsey said his frustration with the city’s escalating taxes and spending, along with the council’s failure to prioritize core city services, prompted him to run for office:
“This last budget session, I showed up and spoke against the budget the city was proposing because it was raising taxes. The city manager and city council told me: ‘We’re not raising taxes; we’re keeping the rate the same.’ I said, ‘No, it’s above the effective tax rate; you are raising taxes.’ And they voted 5-0 to raise property taxes 7 percent.”
“That doesn’t sit well with me,” he said, “because I see that coming directly out of my pocket as a homeowner.” He added the city spends too much of residents’ hard-earned tax dollars on things outside of core city functions.
“I think we need to bring that spending under control, and the things that we do spend money on we need to prioritize,” he said:
“We need to focus on things that make a city a city. No schools, no housing, no businesses can come here if there’s not good police and fire, good roads, and good utilities. Anything that’s outside of those three things—that falls to the end of the list.”
Woolsey said the local government needs to step back and give private entities the tools and freedom they need, so the free market can address those things that are beyond core city services.
Residents he has spoken with agree. Woolsey said he’s been knocking on his future constituents’ doors and asking which priorities they want the city to address.
“Everyone who’s answered the door said [to address] streets and that we have a terrible permit process in Corsicana,” Woolsey said.
While Woolsey is younger than the average public servant, he sees a big advantage in being new to local government and a fresh face in Corsicana. Rather than being stuck in a rut, he said, he is more open to new ideas and approaches.
“It just takes someone to come in and say, ‘There’s a better way to do it, let’s do it together, and let’s save money while we do it.’”
NOTE: The City of Corsicana canceled its May 4 election as all positions on the ballot are uncontested. Unopposed incumbents Mayor Don Denbow and Precinct 4 Council Member Jeff Smith will automatically return to city council along with newcomer Woolsey.