The race to determine Big Spring's next mayor just got more crowded.
With an eye on infrastructure and future growth, Roger Rodman and Manuel Ramirez Jr. have joined Larry McLellan on the ballot for the Big Spring mayoral election this May.
Rodman, 65, a medical technologist at Scenic Mountain Medical Center, said his relationship with current Mayor Tommy Sullivan — who announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election — influenced his decision to toss his hat into the political arena.
“I'm personal friends with Tommy Duncan, and I saw how hard he worked to improve the city's infrastructure,” Rodman said. “If the shale oil boom continues and we have a population explosion like people believe we will, I believe I can help improve our infrastructure so that Big Spring grows in an orderly fashion and doesn't turn into a ramshackle town.
“My primary focus will be working to improve our infrastructure, and working with the EDC (Economic Development Corporation) and Chamber of Commerce to help our community grow … We also need to revitalize the downtown area and get our roads in shape.”
Rodman is a Big Spring native who is a retired U.S. Navy veteran. In the private sector, he worked in the oil industry for several years before returning to “his first love,” medicine, and eventually his home town.
“The old saying is true: You can take the boy out of West Texas, but you can't take West Texas out of the boy,” he said. “God, in his wisdom, not only provided a great job at Scenic Mountain Medical Center, but a beautiful home for us to purchase.”
Rodman and his wife, Carrie, are active with Grace Fellowship Church of god, the Howard County Republican Club and the local Christmas For Our Troops program.
Ramirez, 48, is an internet technology analyst at the Big Spring VA medical center and a former two-term city councilman.
“This is something I always wanted to do,” he said about joining the mayoral race. “I feel we need someone younger to get us moving forward. Not that we're moving backward, by any means, but I believe I can bring some new ideas to the city.”
Like Rodman, Ramirez sees economic development as a key issue in the coming election.
“I get tired of people saying there's nothing to do in Big Spring. I will work very closely with the EDC and other agencies to attract new businesses to Big Spring,” he said. “I think it stinks that so many people feel they have to drive to Midland just to shop and find a nice place to eat, and we need to change that.”
Ramirez also believes he will be a strong voice for the growing Hispanic population in Big Spring.
“With Hispanics making up 44 percent of the population here, I think that needs to be reflected in our city government,” he said.
Ramirez also vowed to be a strong advocate for city employees.
“We need to work very hard to retain our city workforce,” he said. “I know from my experience on the council that these folks work very, very hard at their jobs and we need to do our best to take care of them.”
Rodman, McLellan and Ramirez will square off in the May 11 election.
McLellan, a former president of the Big Spring Economic Development board of directors and owner of Leonards Pharmacy, was the first candidate to file for the mayoral election.
Filing for the position ended Friday.