North Texas Daily

Denton City Council District 1 Campaigns

Denton City Council District 1 Campaigns

Denton City Council District 1 Campaigns
February 01
10:00 2019

The Denton City Council District 1 seat is up for election this year, and the two candidates seeking the position are incumbent Gerard Hudspeth and Denton business owner George Ferrie.

Gerard Hudspeth

The District 1 seat covers central and southeast Denton and has been represented by Hudspeth since 2017.

Earlier this month Hudspeth, 46, announced he will seek a second term and a campaign launch will take place from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 at Harvest House.

Hudspeth, who said his platform will be a continuation from his time on city council and the previous election, will focus on growth management, affordable housing and increased transparency.

“I worked to put forward language that would require councilpersons to disclose travel arrangements before traveling,” Hudspeth said about the city of Denton’s ethics ordinance. “Everyone would see that Gerard is traveling to Austin in advance so they could ask questions before and not in hindsight.”

Hudspeth said the measure to disclose travel arrangements is “invaluable” in terms of transparency and acknowledged it failed to gain support among other city council members.

Hudspeth said he also hopes to address council members’ ability to issue “motions to reconsider.” Under such motions, council members who voted in favor of policy may reconsider their votes and are not required to disclose why their votes changed.

“You have an open meeting, open dialogue, open conversation and an open vote,” Hudspeth said. “Then someone goes home and privately changes their mind … and no one knows because it’s not open.”

Discussing affordable housing in Denton, where property and rental prices have risen in recent years, Hudspeth said he is interested in putting forth a “green plan initiative.” Hudspeth said it would provide “low maintenance turnkey type homes that are low energy.”

Hudspeth is looking to work with New Modern Home, a North Texas based company, to provide affordable, low maintenance housing.

The homes are nearly maintenance-free and produce enough energy to have “$0 electric bill, $0 gas bill and $0 gasoline bills while keeping the best resale value.”

Hudspeth, who toured one of the houses with his staff, said a McKinney utility bill in August was roughly $22.50.

Hudspeth said those numbers would look more like $15, as per the Denton general manager.

Hudspeth said the company is committed to building in Denton and currently looking for available land to develop.

George Ferrie

Ferrie, 31, announced his intention to run for District 1 last December and kicked off his campaign during an event earlier this month held at Denton County Brewing Company.

Ferrie is on the board of various Denton organizations, such as Denton Main Street Association, Parks and Recreation and OUTreach Denton. Ferrie said he is running to make sure “everyone is represented.”

“We need a more diverse and inclusive table to sit at when it comes to city council,” Ferrie said. “I think I’m bringing a lot of that to the table, and I connect with a unique, large group of people in Denton.”

Ferrie’s platform for Denton City Council calls for expanding LGBTQ protections through nondiscriminatory policy, strengthening tenant rights, sustainable infrastructure and public safety.

“As a state, Texas currently has a nondiscrimination policy, but it doesn’t include sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” Ferrie said. “As a city we have the power to push the envelope and decide for ourselves what the needs of our community are.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest civil rights organization for LGBTQ equality, rates cities and states based on their laws, policies and services that support members of the LGBT community. Denton is rated 52 out of 100.

Currently, no policy protections for either employment, public housing or accommodations for members of the LGBTQ community in Denton is present. Across North Texas, Dallas and Fort Worth are the only cities to receive a perfect score.

Speaking on the issue of tenant rights in Denton County – where 53 percent of residents are renters – Ferrie, a renter himself, said expanding knowledge about community programs would be beneficial.

“There are so many services available that not many know about,” Ferrie said. “For example, you can get a free inspection of your home or apartment from the city and they will also fix [some] repairs for free.”

Residents in Denton may contact Community Improvement Services and request inspections for violations at interior rental properties, such as broken appliances, mold, faulty heating and air conditioning and malfunctioning plumbing and electrics.

Likewise, the city also provides assistance for low- and moderate-income homeowners who cannot afford to complete repairs through Home Repair Assistance.

The program, which repairs or modifies homes to protect the health and safety of the structure and household, includes damaged or exposed electrical wiring, leaking roofs, building wheelchair ramps and widening doorways to rooms for more accessible living.

During the 2017 election for city council, District 1 saw the lowest voter turnout compared to other districts. To increase voter turnout this election cycle, Ferrie said his campaign will hold events to register voters and inform them about his plans.

“I’m going to be holding voter registration parties and meet and greets,” Ferrie said.  “Everybody on my campaign [is a deputy registrar], so every single one of us can register voters anywhere.”

Featured Image: City Council in session. File. 

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Ryan Higgs

Ryan Higgs

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