City Of Texarkana, Texas Mayoral Candidates Q&A

photos by Matt Cornelius
photos by Matt Cornelius

November 2, it will once again be time to cast our ballots. Texarkana residents will have the opportunity to vote in the 2021 mayoral election and select between two incredible, highly qualified candidates.

Bob Bruggeman is the city’s incumbent mayor and has served Texarkana since May 2012. Previously, he served as city council member for Ward 4 from 2005-2012.

Dr. Brian Matthews is an assistant professor of management at Texas A&M University-Texarkana and served as a city council member for Ward 4
from 2012 to 2017.

Make sure you get out to vote on November 2!


BOB BRUGGEMAN

What motivated you to get involved with city government?

I love my community. I have lived here my entire life. Serving in city government has allowed me the opportunity to give back and work to make Texarkana USA a better place to work and live. I was also encouraged by others who were involved in city government.

What is one thing you wish people knew about Texarkana?

I would want people to know Texarkana is a great place to live, work, worship, raise a family and attend college. The cost of living is reasonable, and we have great quality of life offerings such as parks, as well as bike and walking trail systems.

What is your favorite thing about Texarkana?

My favorite thing about Texarkana is its people. What a caring and giving community! Our great citizens strongly support non-profit organizations, schools, the arts and churches. I hear all the time from tourists and visitors how nice the people are who live here.

What do you believe is the most pressing issue in 2022?

I think the most pressing issue in 2022 could be health care services. COVID-19 has put a huge strain on our local health care resources. Current hospitalization rates are elevated. It will take some time for our health care resources to be replenished. Our local health care facilities are working hard to provide medical care to our citizens.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it?

If I had $1 million grant to use for the city any way I wanted, I would probably spend half of it on demolition of substandard structures and the other half on street improvements. These are two areas where there is more need than available funding.

If you wrote a book about your career so far, what would you title it?

My book title would be Recalculating. When driving a vehicle following navigation directions, we sometimes pass by where our directions are sending us, or when we make a wrong turn, we hear that familiar voice, “recalculating.” Life is that way too. We sometimes must recalculate to make sure we reach our destination in life.

What was your very first job (that’s not on your resume)?

The first job I had was during my high school years at Tom & Stan’s Automotive at Third and Ash Streets. It was an automotive parts store. I delivered auto parts to local garages. I also stocked inventory in the lobby and kept the store room in good shape. I learned there is a lot of work in running a business. A business must be competitive and provide superior customer service in order to stay in business.

How do you handle undeserved criticism?

When it comes to undeserved criticism, I always try to take the high road. It stems back to my upbringing. My parents taught me there will always be those who criticize others.

What superpower would you choose for yourself?

I would choose to be Superman—just an ordinary guy who springs into action to help others in a time of need.

Tell us about your family.

I have been married to my wife, Jackie, for 37 years. We met at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. I was a student, and she was working part time in the Admissions Office. Jackie is a teacher of the visually impaired. I have two daughters. Elizabeth, “Liz” is married to Micah Friday, a local CPA, and they have two children. Liz works at TISD. My daughter, Olivia, operates Olivia Claire Hair and Boutique and does video production and reporting.

Do you have any mentors?

I have two mentors who are no longer living. They are former Major League Baseball Umpire, Durwood Merrill and Billy Taylor. Durwood taught me proper positioning and on-field mechanics, and how to handle various situations. The umpiring skills I learned from him have helped me in my umpiring career. Billy Taylor was my Little League baseball coach. He not only taught me about baseball, but he taught me about life skills, such as how to treat others, work hard and give back to the community. I still use those life skills he taught me. I will always be indebted to him for making sure I was on the right track in life.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are playing golf, washing and detailing my vehicles and working in the yard, especially the flower beds. I enjoy being outdoors.

Where did you graduate from high school?

I am a 1980 graduate of Texas Senior High School. I played on the golf team.


Dr. Brian Matthews

What motivated you to get involved with city government?

What motivated me to get involved with city government was helping people. As a city councilman, one observation I made is that many of our citizens are the most gifted and charitable people you will ever meet. Other areas that motivate me are the untapped potential and vibrancy of Texarkana. Based on conversations I have had with citizens over the years, Texarkana is poised to experience great things and will see a rise in emerging leaders who will responsibly and smartly carry its legacy into the future.

What is one thing you wish people knew about Texarkana?

The one thing I wish people knew about Texarkana is the number of non-profit organizations we have. There are so many exceptional agencies that generously extend services to people in need in our area. Agencies like For the Sake of One, Literacy Council of Bowie and Miller Counties, HandsOn Texarkana, Harvest Texarkana, CASA, and many others that work heroically to enrich the quality of life and provide resources for those they serve.

What is your favorite thing about Texarkana?

My favorite thing about Texarkana is the small-town feel the city has. Compared to larger cities, Texarkana is peaceful, quiet and serene and has a personality that is all its own. Our city has a unique welcoming and nurturing virtue that other cities lack.

What do you believe is the most pressing issue in 2022?

I believe the most pressing issue in 2022 is responding to and navigating the unpredictability of COVID-19.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it?

If I received a $1 million grant, I would not only demolish dilapidated homes in derelict communities but would rebuild houses to replace those torn down to provide opportunities for homeownership and a sense of community.

If you wrote a book about your career so far, what would you title it?

Because my research interests are organizational behavior, leadership and management dynamics, and motivation, the title of a book about my career would be entitled How to Get Away with Management. Next year, I plan to write a book that provides leaders with ways to manage employees effectively using the guise of leadership.

What was your very first job (that’s not on your resume)?

The very first job I had that is not on my resume is working at Sonic Drive-In as a cook when I was a senior in high school. Working at Sonic taught me the value of budgeting, spending and saving money since I was responsible for buying any luxury things I wanted like a pager (it was the 90s).

How do you handle undeserved criticism?

The way I handle undeserved criticism is just not focusing on the scrutiny. As an educator, the behavioral theories I study are foundationally based on the origin of ideas and feelings. I think that once you understand the genesis of another’s disapproval, the easier it is to convert the criticism into motivation.

What superpower would you choose for yourself?

I would choose the superpower of multiplicity and duplicate myself to meet and visit with multiple citizens at the same time.

Tell us about your family.

I am the oldest of four siblings, one brother, Dez Matthews, and two sisters, Alesha and Amber Garrett. My parents, Al and Deborah Garrett, live here in Texarkana and are both retired from Domtar. I have one son, Bradley Matthews, who is 15 years old and is in the ninth grade at Texas High School.

Do you have any mentors?

I have mentors for every area in my life including spiritual, political, educational and professional areas. I affectionately refer to my group of mentors as my “professional war chest”. Notably, I have been mentored by Robert E. Quinn, a renowned author, researcher and authority on organizational culture, and John Donovan, former CEO of AT&T Communications.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies include writing, drawing and playing basketball.

Where did you graduate from high school?

I am a 1997 graduate of Ashdown High School.


 

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