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Mayor's race: Briley wants Abilene to be 'All American City' once more

Robert Briley

ABILENE, Texas - For Robert Briley, serving on the Abilene City Council and now running for mayor just made sense.

"I grew up here, I went to school here. I've been in business here for 36 years and I wanted to give back to the community," Briley told KTXS.

This is the second-time Briley has thrown his hat into the ring for mayor, coming up 153 votes short three years ago in a loss to Norm Archibald.

The owner of several Aaron's rent-to-own stores, Briley says he's working harder to finally get a chance to apply his business sense to city government.

"I embrace giving great service to our customers and I want to take that retail concept and bring it over to city hall," Briley said.

Briley, who has outraised and outspent his opponents thus far during the race, is squaring off against 180 House leader Richard Kennedy and Abilene City Councilman Anthony Williams in the May 6 election.

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RICHARD KENNEDY PROFILE -} http://www.ktxs.com/454072686

ANTHONY WILLIAMS PROFILE -} http://www.ktxs.com/454759424

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Abilene residents don't have to travel very far to spot one of Briley's campaign signs.

"What we have to do is go out and earn the votes of every single person, again," said Briley, who has spent $20,000 out of his own pocket to campaign, according to campaign finance reports.

Like his two opponents, Briley, if elected mayor, wants to focus on growing Abilene's economy. "We've got to grow our jobs - we need to retain the businesses that are here. There's a lot of competition going on right now, in regards to cities trying to lure other businesses into their cities," Briley said. He also wants businesses to surround his favorite spot in Abilene - the downtown Paramount Theatre.

While he was growing up in Abilene, Briley says the Paramount was the place to be. He recalls enjoying his time as a young man at local dances there. Even at 65, Briley says he still views downtown Abilene as key to a prosperous future for the city.

"I would love to have a downtown hotel," Briley said. "We have not seen the number okay - or see if it's going to work - but again that would tie in the convention center to a very convenient hotel."

For Briley revitalizing downtown is part of the bigger picture.

"We used to have the notoriety of the "All American City" and I mean we need to focus on that and try to bring that back," Briley said.

Meanwhile, KTXS in partnership with the Abilene Reporter-News is airing an hour-long, commercial free debate from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday (tonight). It will stream live here on our website and will we'll be live on our Facebook pages taking questions from people.

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