North Texas Daily

Denton City Council District 3 Campaigns

Denton City Council District 3 Campaigns

February 07
01:00 2019

The District 3 seat on Denton City Council, which covers parts of the Argyle, Denton, Krum and Ponder precincts, is represented by incumbent Councilman Don Duff, 79, who has held the position since 2017.

Duff, who won his district in 2017 with 42.99 percent of the vote in a three-way race, has confirmed he will not seek re-election and declined to comment to the Daily about specific reasons for not pursuing re-election.

Several people have filed to run for the city council seat and here is a breakdown of their campaigns so far:

Matt Farmer. Courtesy Facebook.

Matt Farmer

Matt Farmer, 25, announced his candidacy in December and launched his campaign at an event held late last month at J&J’s Pizza on the Denton Square. In his campaign launch address, Farmer spoke on the need for strengthening tenant rights, the importance of sustainable infrastructure and affordable housing as Denton’s growth continues.

“Fifty-three percent of our community are renters, myself included,” Farmer said. “Yet on average, about 90 percent of landlord-tenant disputes are in favor of the landlord.”

The reasoning, Farmer said, is because “most people can’t afford a tenant lawyer,” and renters are not always knowledgeable to “every detail and nuance of tenant law.” To address this issue, Farmer proposed introducing a policy that would require a landlord or property manager to “review every aspects of a lease in a way that is clear and concise before the tenants sign.”

At the launch, former Texas 393rd District Court candidate Evan Stone, an intellectual property attorney in Denton and member of the Texas Tenant’s Union, spoke about why he believes Farmer is the right choice for District 3.

“If you care about politics, you care about people,” Stone said. “How they think, how they interact with one another and Matt understands this.”

Addressing Denton’s growth – which is expected to increase by an additional 60,000 residents by 2025-2030 – Farmer said the city needs to be “proactive” rather than “reactive.”

“This is why we need to invest in sustainable infrastructure and truly affordable housing,” Farmer said. “We need to embrace our new developments, while also protecting our small business and preserving our arts culture.”

Farmer, a former democratic candidate for Texas House District 64 – currently held by State Representative Lynn Stucky – said his new campaign for city council feels much better.

“A problem I ran into last time is that I tried to take on too much responsibility,” Farmer said about his HD-64 campaign. “When you have enough people around you that are not only willing to help but are good at what they do, it makes the whole thing a lot smoother.”

Farmer withdrew his candidacy in early 2018 after revealing there were “personal issues” occurring in his life, which he said left him unable to dedicate the needed time and resources his campaign required.

“I was working three jobs at the time, and that race [HD-64] requires a lot of money and effort for an extended period of time,” Farmer said. “At that point I couldn’t dedicate [the time and resources] with my schedule, having to work and spending a lot of time with family.”

UNT alumnus Chandler Dunn, 24, said he attended the launch to learn more about Farmer’s campaign and what it would mean for the city.

“My priorities are making sure there’s diversity and someone who listens to us,” Dunn said about issues such as infrastructure maintenance. “I don’t think local city council members should save the world but to come together for a common point.”

Information on Farmer’s campaign and upcoming events can be found on his Facebook page Matt Farmer For Denton.

Diana Leggett. Courtesy Facebook.

Diana Leggett

Denton paralegal Diana Leggett, 65, announced her intention to run for District 3 in December.

Leggett is also the founder of WildRescue, Inc./Rescued Rabbits and was the 2018 Democratic candidate for Denton County Commissioners Court, running in the general election in November against Republican challenger Andy Eads, who won.

Leggett, whose margin of victory was greater in urban areas of Denton County, won five of 12 precincts in District 3 – 4000, 4005, 4007, 4039, 4045 – with an average of 74.9 percent of total votes. In District 3 precincts which Leggett lost in the general election – 4001, 4002, 4003, 4003, 4038, 4042 and 4044 – she averaged only 23.29 percent of the vote.

As a candidate for city council, Leggett said her decision to run was based off why she ran for County Judge, which was to preserve Denton’s green spaces.

“They’re almost gone and there’s going to be nothing left for my grandchildren and your kids,” Leggett said about environmental sustainability. “I have a really loud voice in the animal world and I’m very much a protector in my legal world … I believe those qualities bring a huge amount of skill set to [city council].”

Leggett’s campaign platform also calls for strengthening tenant rights, improving city infrastructure and safety and increasing engagement within the community.

To increase engagement between city council members and constituents, Leggett said she – if elected – would want to include neighborhood meetings on a monthly basis.

“It’s very, very important that we have neighborhood meetings,” Leggett said about her experience growing up in a city with neighborhood meetings. “That made us feel connected and not isolated … I think it would be worth it and would be a way to hear people’s concerns and get up to speed on issues.”

Discussing tenant rights – where 53 percent of Denton residents are renters – Leggett proposed bringing housing standard ordinances up to par with the city of Dallas. To do this, Leggett said she is advocating that all rentable units should have access to both heating and air conditioning.

“There are units here in Denton that don’t have air conditioning,” Leggett said. “At the state level, it says you don’t have to have air conditioning, just that you have to have heat.”

Texas law does not require landlords to provide either air conditioning units or central air systems in rental properties or apartments.

“Dallas passed their ordinance [in 2016] that said all rentable units have to have heat and air accordingly,” Leggett said.

Housing ordinances for the city of Dallas requires property owners to maintain both heating and air with ability to maintain temperatures. For air conditioning, landlords must provide units capable of temperatures of at least 15 degrees cooler than outside. For heating, Dallas requires landlords to provide units capable of at least 15 degrees warmer than outside, but not lower than 68 degrees in each habitable room.

Regarding improving city infrastructure and public safety, one of Leggett’s biggest concerns is the safety of cyclists on Denton’s roads.

“When you drive up Malone Street, it’s very busy with your mind with other cyclists over there,” Leggett said. “There’s no sidewalks for the cyclists and when you come up Scripture to go to Mr. Chopsticks, it is a very steep turn and I see that as an accident waiting to happen.”

The City of Denton currently has a safe-passing ordinance for cyclists, whom are considered vehicles when on the road way. Under the city’s ordinance, residents are required to either change lanes or provide a safe passing distance – three feet for cars, six feet for trucks – when passing vulnerable roadway users, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.

To address safety concerns for cyclists, Leggett proposed the city could build a flyover in high traffic areas to reduce congestion and increase safety.

Leggett, who was unsure of costs, said she would consider partnering with UNT Engineering to design the project.

Information on Leggett’s campaign and upcoming events can be found on her Facebook page Diana Leggett for Denton City Council.

Jason Cole. Courtesy Facebook.

Jason Cole

Denton businessman Jason Cole, 51, announced his candidacy for District 3 after filing with the city on Friday.

Cole, who ran for District 3 in 2017, placed third with 18.84 percent of the vote in a three-way race against then-candidates Don Duff and Paul Meltzer, who now represents At Large Place 6.

During Cole’s campaign for city council two years ago, he won precincts 4001 and 4038, placed second in precincts 4005 and 4007 and third in precinct 4003, despite gaining more votes in precincts he either won or placed second.

Cole referred to his 2017 campaign experience as a “great opportunity” to better understand the issues impacting Denton residents.

As a candidate in this year’s election, Cole’s platform calls for growth and density management, preserving Denton’s present tree canopy and advocating for small businesses.

Regarding small businesses, Cole said he would like to see Denton become “more of a partner [for small business] rather than a roadblock.”

The reasoning, Cole said – citing his experience and of other small businesses in Denton – is the city’s code enforcement, which cause business owners “unnecessary financial burdens.”

“I have a friend that opened an office in one of the houses on Elm [Street],” Cole said. “But they [city of Denton] are making him have emergency lighting … there’s only two of them there and if the lights go out, I think they know how to get out.”

Cole said the city made his friend put a sprinkler system in their freezer.

The City of Denton’s Building Inspection Division, which is part of the Development Services Center, monitors compliance with city building codes, ordinances and amendments. The division is responsible for issuing permits and performing inspections for code compliance designed to “ensure the safety of the structure.”

Another example, Cole said, were code enforcement regulations the city required at Beth Marie’s Ice Cream on the Square.

To improve code enforcement regulations and reduce financial costs for businesses, Cole said he wants to reduce permit lag time so that everyone is open to business and not just the wealthy.

“I don’t want Denton to just be open to business to the millionaires, it’s got to be open to regular folk,” Cole said. “The less you’ve cost them, the more freedom they have to spread the pie around and the more diverse people you’re going to bring into your small business community.”

Discussing Denton’s tree canopy, which averages 30 percent coverage – 22,450 acres out of 74,492 – Cole said he wants to preserve the present canopy without developmental disruption.

“I’m a big proponent of leaving the trees and against people removing native trees,” Cole said. “Those need to stay and development can go around that.”

Per the 2016 City of Denton Urban Forest Resource Assessment, the tree canopy serves various functions both economic and environmentally based.

Economically, the structural value of Denton’s urban forest was $2.06 billion with an annual functional value of $7.2 million provided by an overall population of roughly 3.5 million trees. The return value of Denton’s tree canopy helps increase property values and reduce utility bills with an estimated reduction of $1.6 million in energy costs annually.

Environmentally, the canopy assists carbon sequestration, which provides an annual functional value of $3.06 million through the removal of 23,000 tons of carbon per year. Likewise, the canopy also helps with the removal of 404.86 tons of air pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

Pollutant removal through the canopy is valued at $759,000 annually.

Cole said preserving Denton’s tree canopy goes back to development and holding city council accountable.

“You’ve got to hold these people [council members] to the tree ordinance,” Cole said. “When [developers] ask for density, you don’t have to give them the density they ask for.”

Concerning Denton’s expected growth over the next five to 10 years, Cole said as a city “we’ve got to figure out how to grow without turning into Plano or Frisco.”

Cole, who serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission, said he believes the best tool at the City’s disposal is to control density.

“The people that are going to be affected the most are the people on the outer layer of the core,” Cole said about rural growth. “They’re largely fields where the horse ranches are … well you see developments starting out there and these people are really concerned.”

As growth continues over the next decade, Cole said the city should revisit Denton’s 2030 plan.

“It’s going to be hard to catch up and I don’t know if we can,” Cole said. “We’re behind already on road projects … they haven’t even started on the loop, how are you going to grow West Denton and put people out there if you don’t have that?”

Information on Cole’s campaign and upcoming events can be found at coleforcouncil.com.

Voting Information

Candidates have until 5 p.m. on Feb. 15 to file for a place on the ballot.

Elections for city council Districts 1-4 will be held May 4. Early voting will take place April 22-30.

More information about registration deadlines, district and polling locations and different ways of voting in Denton County can be found at votedenton.com.

Featured Image: A Denton City Council meeting in session. File. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect updates that occurred to the District 3 voting precincts on Jan. 1, 2018.

About Author

Ryan Higgs

Ryan Higgs

Related Articles

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

Search Bar

Social Media

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Twitter Feed

North Texas Daily @ntdaily
Follow this thread for live updates as the Mean Green take on the Sooners! https://t.co/Acblwmtk4u
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
RT @bekah899: @LizzySpangler and I are currently reporting out this story for @ntdaily. If you would like to be interviewed or comment as p…
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
OPINION: Edible Arrangements selling CBD products in North Texas is a unique step to normalizationby… https://t.co/mVmdnMBCLM
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
BREAKING: SGA Vice President Hillary Shah has resigned from her position.https://t.co/otcrXnho5B
h J R

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad