Paul Ruff is a candidate running for Place 6 on the Port Aransas City Council. Following is a summary of remarks he made at Candidates’ Night on Thursday, April 14.
The remarks came in his prepared opening and closing statements and also when he, with other candidates, randomly drew questions from a bucket and gave impromptu responses.
Ruff has worked at the Venetian Hotplate for 13 years. He is a waiter.
“I believe that I have a fresh set of eyes, a different perspective,” he said. “Since I am not a business owner, that can bring a different point of view to the way the city … should go.”
Ruff drew a question that said:
“In February, the long-time city attorney was fired by the council without cause, which is the council’s prerogative and perfectly legal. At least one city council member has said she would favor terminating the city manager and also has gone-head-to-head with the code enforcement officer over the placement and removal of campaign signs (the code enforcement officer also is the city’s emergency management director). Do you think the city attorney should have been fired, that the city manager should be fired and do you have problems with the job the code enforcement officer is doing – or not? Please give specific reasons as to why or why not?”
Ruff said there is a “schism” on the council.
“I do not agree with the way the city attorney was fired,” Ruff said. “If certain council members wanted to go a different direction, a reason should have been given — probably not for the firing but maybe what the direction is they do want to go.”
The firing “without having a plan in place opened up the city to potential snafus – not having proper representation and then trying to get someone up to speed if we did have an issue, say, with the Port or with any other developer, any other reason.”
Ruff brought up the recent controversy in which council member Tina Mott accused the city’s code enforcement workers of wrongly removing campaign signs from where they’d been erected around town. Rick Adams, who supervises that department, denied wrongdoing. He said signs were removed and set aside at a location where candidates could pick them up and potentially re-erect them properly. He said they were removed because they’d been put up in city rights of way, violating a city ordinance.
“We all knew what the regulations were,” Ruff said. “Maybe he got overzealous. I don’t know. I know I picked up a ton of my signs. … It’s hard to see how far the city right of ways goes. So it was not a big deal in my book to pick up your signs and put them back …”
Ruff said he doesn’t think City Manager Dave Parsons should he fired.
“The man has done a wonderful job since Harvey; I think the whole issue here is a clash of personalities. … I always go with what people do and not what they say.”
Ruff also drew a question that has to do with firefighting. It said:
“Port Aransas currently has a volunteer fire department. As the town grows, so grow the arguments that the city needs a paid firefighting department staffed entirely by full-time firefighters, and the city has discussed that. It would cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars and could mean taxes would go up to pay for all that. How should the city address the possible need to transition to a full-time a fire department in the future?”
Ruff said the city should “look into” creating a paid fire department.
“I’m not disparaging what our volunteers go through,” he said. “I know they bust their butt every time they go out. But, if there is a full-time fire department, that could shorten the time it takes to get a fire in a very densely-packed neighborhood.”