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Abilene mayor's race: Kennedy seeks to overcome‘underdog' status

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ABILENE, Texas - In Abilene's 2017 mayoral race, Richard Kennedy could be considered the underdog.

Kennedy has never ran or held office, yet he believes it is to his advantage in this election.

Kennedy says he believes residents in Abilene are ready for change and feels he can give residents a better version of Abilene, just like he's done for hundreds of recovering addicts.

"I started with really nothing; a rundown building that was ready for a bulldozer and worked for a year in order to house eight men in 1994 - that today we house 100 men and woman," Kennedy said, referring to Abilene's 180 House.

Kennedy is squaring off against Abilene councilman Anthony Williams and former councilman Robert Briley in the May 6 election.

As program director of 180 House, Kennedy knows a thing or two about rehabilitation and most importantly reinvention, which he says he can apply to the city if elected mayor of Abilene.

"I think we have to stay the course with our police department, our fire department, our water sources and with our streets," Kennedy said. "But it's going to take a lot of work and it's going to take time to get our streets back into shape.

"And we got to stay focused on those things without getting distracted into these 'pet projects' and things like investing 30 something million in a downtown hotel - that isn't the city government's job to do."

Instead, if elected, Kennedy wants the city of Abilene to invest in its residents.

For example, he says on entrepreneurs like Rachel and Manuel Castro of Los Arcos, his favorite restaurant. It's business owners like the Castro's, who Kennedy says have the potential to expand and really help contribute to the local economy.

Rather than trying to lure big business in, to grow the economy Kennedy's plan is to invest in local business already successful in Abilene.

"It's been great to watch the success that has come from their handwork and I think that is what Abilene is about -- the people make it great," Kennedy said.

This Thursday, KTXS in partnership with the Abilene Reporter-News will air an hour-long, commercial free debate from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. 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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