A guide to May’s Denton city council election

A guide to May’s Denton city council election

A guide to May’s Denton city council election
April 07
12:05 2017

With Spring in full swing and the city council election only a month away, candidates are preparing for the home stretch of their respective races.

On May 6 residents will vote to re-elect certain candidates or pick from a number of local names. With applications closed since Feb. 17, Keely Briggs of District 2 will begin her second term in her position after the election. But others face tougher battles.

The last day to register to vote is tomorrow, April 6.

Here is a guide of the candidates for Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4:

District 1

Frances Hawes, Gerard Hudspeth and Emily White are running for District 1, which opened up after Kevin Roden finished his third and last term. He was first elected in May 2011 and cannot run again.

Transparency, an ethics ordinance and infrastructure are the main things Hudspeth plans to fix if elected.

“We are guaranteed three new council members,” Hudspeth said. “It will be very important for someone to step in those roles. It will be very important to have someone to understand those seats, I think my time in the planning and zoning committee has helped me understand some of these changes.”

White, who received her bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University and is now a professor at North Central Texas College, said she wants to be involved with the decision making.

“I think that serving our city council will be the ultimate volunteer opportunity,” White said. “I teach rhetoric and argument, and I think it would be good for my students to see me living the political life that I talk to them about in class with being leaders in their community and being effective communicators.”

Hawes, a caretaker who has lived in Denton for over 10 years, could not be reached for comment.

District 2

Keely Briggs is the incumbent for the District 2 seat and will run unopposed for this year’s election.

A graduate of UNT, Briggs was first elected to her seat in May 2015, and is currently in her first term. Briggs said she wants to focus on businesses, the environment and neighborhoods, and she has the ability to focus on these issues full-time.

“You have to answer every call. You have to read every letter. You have to open every email. You have to communicate consistently and openly with people and community stakeholders whether you agree with them or not,” Briggs said. “I want this community to have an ever improving quality of representative government. I am working hard to set a higher expectation for elected officials and citizen engagement in that regard.”

District 3

Jason Cole, Don Duff and Paul Meltzer are vying for the District 3 spot, which was left open by Kathleen Wazny who decided in December that she would not run for another term. Wazny was first elected onto city council in May 2015, but said she needed to focus on spending more time with her family.

Meltzer said he wanted to take a stand on issues facing Denton, and then decided to run for the seat. His goals for this election and the city of Denton include smart growth, fiscal discipline and building community consensus. One of his biggest concerns is to review plans for the new gas plant.

My interest began when council voted to repeal the fracking ban rather than defend it,” Meltzer said. “Then later I didn’t like it when council voted to borrow $265 million to build a gas plant, the biggest single expenditure in city history and knowing there would be opposition found a way to finance it without giving the citizens a vote. Seeing no one else running to take a stand in my district, I realized I should do it myself.”

Duff, who said he was encouraged to run by his friend Wazny, has goals for council that include getting an ethics ordinance and to spend money wisely.

“We will go into a new phase, there will be a number of changes,” Duff said. “I can tell you I am coming in this with a great deal of background, [Wazny] will be my mentor and advisor throughout this.”

Jason Cole, whose family has been rooted in Denton for the past 100 years, is also in favor of an ethics ordinance, more transparency and communication within the government. Cole said that living in District 3 his whole life has given him the know-how to run for the seat.

“We’re about to experience a monstrous amount of growth, and I want it to be easier for small businesses to grow,” Cole said. “We have the longest permit wait-time. We have a real rigorous code enforcement.”

District 4

John Ryan and Amanda Servis are running for this seat, which is being left open by Joey Hawkins. Hawkins faced a recall election for his vote to overturn the fracking ban in Denton last May. He will not be running again in this election.

Ryan, a former council member, said many fellow community members have encouraged him to run again, and he wants to continue giving back to the community.

“On the long-term planning, water is a resource that you can’t just generate or produce more of,” Ryan said. “We need to watch the future. Projections are in the quarter million in the next 20 years. It’s starting to get off the ground at this point.”

Servis, owner of Lucky Locks Beauty Bar in Denton, has roots that run deep in Denton, too. Her grandmother is Pat Cheek, who ran for city council 40 years ago, and Bill Cheek, who owns part of the Jagoe Construction company.

“I feel that communication is key,” Servis said. “I have been a student here, a working single mom, so I feel like I am connected in every way.”

Featured Image: A speaker presents at the bi-monthly city council meeting on Tuesday, April 4. A new board will be elected May 6. Keeley G. Briggs, far right, is the only current member running for re-election. Samantha Hardisty

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Julia Falcon

Julia Falcon

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5 Comments

  1. Iris Bluebonnet
    Iris Bluebonnet April 07, 16:46

    Did Don Duff, who is running for District 3, not tell NT Daily that he is the driver behind Proposition 1—the senior tax giveaway? The first 1000 signatures on the petition to put Prop 1 on the ballot were from Robson Ranch. This giveaway does not help senior or disabled renters or seniors in senior housing. It is of dubious value to seniors whose home values are $200,000 or less. By shifting the burden of taxation onto younger families and small businesses, these seniors and disabled, as well as renters of all ages and younger Dentonites will likely see prices go up and city services go down. The city will lose, at a conservative estimate that does not take into account baby boomers who began retiring in 2011 and will keep on retiring through 2029, a loss of over 200K the first year, rising to $2.6 million—possibly more than $4 million— by 2026. Vote NO on Prop 1 and vote for Paul Meltzer for City Council District 3. Then let’s see about a tax RATE cut which would benefit everyone and be justified because of the recent spikes in property values.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Denton History
    Denton History April 08, 11:01

    One detail, if editing is possible: Amanda Servis’ grandmother, Pat Cheek, ran for Council 40 (not 4) years ago 🙂

    Reply to this comment
      • Iris Bluebonnet
        Iris Bluebonnet April 13, 14:22

        Excellent. Update: Duff and Robson Ranch are counting on voter ignorance and apathy to get what they want, I guess planning to sail in on the Robson vote alone. He has not been attending candidate forums anymore, is reported to have said he won’t answer email or phone calls from constituents if elected, and he reportedly told another candidate that he wants to save money on his 4 properties. A homeowner can only save on their home. On other properties he owns in Denton, his taxes will likely go up. Meanwhile, the savings for a $350,000 home (the average price at Robson Ranch) is ~$77.00, This is hardly an amount worth doing harm to younger voters, renters (including seniors and disabled), local businesses, and to the City as a whole. Vote AGAINST Proposition 1.

        Reply to this comment
  3. John B. Bass
    John B. Bass April 11, 15:37

    There is a question about Meltzer’s year round residency. He is from New York (New York CIty!??!?!?) and reportedly has an apartment there. Every time the local election cycle comes around, local NOT-Denton curmudgeon, Bob Clifton always claims someone does not live in the City or in their District. He’s never been correct. This time, it seems like there is good reason to ask about Meltzer. The DRC hasn’t.

    Reply to this comment

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