North Texas Daily

Jesse Davis talks campaign platform

Jesse Davis talks campaign platform

Jesse Davis talks campaign platform
March 21
01:12 2019

Jesse Davis, an attorney with the Denton County District Attorney’s Office and chairman of the city’s Board of Ethics, entered the race for Denton City Council District 3 after filing with the city last month in a last-minute shake-up following another candidate’s withdrawal due to conflicts of interest.

As a candidate in this year’s city council elections, Davis’ campaign platform will focus on supporting viably sustainable investments, developing a stable revenue stream for a permanent economic development fund, continuing investments into city infrastructure and capital improvements and working to strengthen relationships with nonprofits within the city of Denton.

Sustainable investments

Davis said a focal point of his platform is incentives that would put more electric vehicles onto Denton’s roads. Davis said that due to Denton’s consumption of renewable energies such as solar, wind, landfills and whitetails are expected to increase over the next few years, incentives that further the city’s sustainability become “especially important.”

“The more Denton vehicles we have charging at Denton charging stations, the more electric cars we have running on renewable resources,” Davis said while discussing what such incentives might entail. “It looks like incentives for folks to buy cars [and] incentives for apartment and other commercial developers to put in charging stations.”

In 2018, the city consumed an estimated 42 percent of its energy from renewable resources, according to Denton Municipal Electric. That year, the Denton City Council voted 6-1 to adopt the Renewable Resource Plan, a resolution which revised the city’s previous Renewable Denton Plan. The revisions increased the city’s targeted renewable energy rate of 70 percent to 100 percent by 2020, according to a story in the North Texas Daily from last year.

Davis, who said he was unsure whether the economics of the matter would support city-owned electric vehicle charging stations, acknowledged that it would be worth considering.

A part of Davis’ sustainability platform also includes incentives for residential homeowners and commercial developers that undertake “green initiatives,” such as grey water reuse and xeriscaping, he said. For residential and commercial developments, possible incentives could entail the capture and reuse of grey water, installing rain capture systems and reducing a person’s utility bill based on their sewer charge.

Regarding the development of a stable revenue stream and a permanent economic development fund, Davis, citing the 2008 Housing and Financial Crisis, said the city needs to invest and diversify itself during periods of economic growth as to prepare for leaner times.

Davis said his platform will focus on investments into city infrastructure and capital improvements while diversifying business developments as to serve different economic interests within the city.

“The more we can get different kinds of businesses to locate in Denton, the safer our jobs are and the sounder our entire economy is,” Davis said. “If Peterbilt [Motors] has a bad year and they have to let some folks go, it’s less likely that we’re going to have a bad year over at Tetra Pak [Materials].”

Davis, acknowledging that Denton will most likely not be home to the next “Jerry’s World” or “Texas Rangers Stadium,” said that if he is elected, he plans to diversify business developments by attracting targeted industries such as corporate headquarters and food distribution center to Denton, but with an incentivized caveat that developments maintain certain levels of green building certification.

“Corporate headquarters mean well-paying jobs with lots of benefits,” Davis said. “They mean a pipeline for our students to seek employment right here in town and that’s an opportunity for us to put a corporate campus in the world that is green certified.”

In 2014, the city council adopted a resolution that established the “Municipal Green Building Policy” which committed the city to developing “the most efficient and healthy buildings for our citizens and workforce.” In 2018, Denton was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council as one of 75 other L.E.E.D. – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – certified cities, according to the city of Denton.

Aspects that are examined by L.E.E.D. when issuing certifications for sustainability include: location and transportation, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

To attract businesses and other eco-friendly developments to Denton, Davis’ campaign will also focus on incentives that the city can assist developments with such as removing some of the hurdles and associated costs. However, Davis acknowledged that current incentives provided through the city are insufficiently funded and not as broadly-based as compared to other cities that Denton competes with.

“The only things we have to offer right now to incentivize them to come here are low electricity rates, tax abatements and a little bit with permit and utility impact fees,” Davis said. “That’s a fairly limited toolbox when other cities that were competing against have some other incentives and grants that they can offer because they have funding set aside.”

The city of Denton provides different grant programs for existing and targeted developments, according to the city’s Economic Development Partnership. Since 1999, the city of Denton has invested roughly $16.5 million in tax-related incentives with an estimated return of $51.4 million. Since the program began, an estimated 7,207 jobs have been created or retained by incentivized projects, according to the city of Denton’s Business and Economic Development.

Economic development

Davis said the focal point of his platform to establish a permanent economic development fund is to improve upon what is already available “by adding another tool to the toolbox.”

An aspect Davis said he wants to improve economic developments, which he acknowledged have been improved upon recently, is economic transparency and how city development money is spent.

“When we talk about economic development it shouldn’t be something that only one portion of the city knows is going on,” Davis said. “It should be something that we have a conversation about and bring people on board with so [they] understand what the mission is and how we’re getting it done.”

Davis, who is affiliated with various organizations such as the Denton Evening Rotary Club and North Texas Children’s Choir, said that, if elected, he would work to strengthen relationships with nonprofits that provide social services to Denton citizens in need.

The reason, Davis said, is that the city is limited by their Charter to what they can directly affect and that there are some things that cities “are just not as good at as nonprofits.”

“[Nonprofits] have the ability to address a lot of the issues that the city cannot reach into,” Davis said. “It’s because nonprofits are better at doing most of the work, they’re more efficient and spend less money and they get the job done better.”

Sharing his thoughts on the race for city council, where he will face challengers Diana Leggett and Matt Farmer whom are vying for incumbent Don Duff’s District 3 seat, who is not running for re-election, said he chose to run because of this election being a “pivotal moment for Denton.”

Davis said it was important for him for the city council to be represented by someone who can make thought out and reasoned decisions with consideration of evidence from all sides.

“The alternative is making decisions that are based on impulse and mired in divisiveness,” Davis said. “I think I have the training, knowledge and experience to make good decisions and that’s why I’m running.”

Information on Davis’ campaign and upcoming events can be found on his website and Facebook page JesseforDenton.

Voting Information

Election Day for city council Districts 1-4 is May 4. Early voting will take place April 22-30.

More information about voting in Denton County can be found at votedenton.com.

Featured Image: Jesse Davis addresses of the Board of Ethics at the Feb. 20, 2019 meeting. Image by: Trevor Seibert.

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Ryan Higgs

Ryan Higgs

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5 Comments

  1. JHC
    JHC March 21, 13:54

    Green washing to hide his dangerously pro-stripmall sprawl agenda comes as no surprise from this opportunistic legal hustler and father of the phone “ethics” dilemma over the polling place at UNT . Phooey! This man wants to suppress your vote and sell Denton to the likes of Buccee’s.

    Reply to this comment
  2. YourVoteMatters
    YourVoteMatters March 22, 00:47

    This candidate did not step down from the ethics board when deciding to campaign for another candidate, appear in a partisan advertisement, and run for office himself. Instead he contended that UNT affiliated Council
    Members (his would be colleagues, if elected) had conflicts of interest in promoting a poll on campus that would enable a commibity of ~37,000 to more easily vote. And he calls his opponents “divisive.” This is not how an ethics board member (let alone chair) conducts themselves. Here, he presents nothing but greenwashing and says not a word about affordable housing, which is perhaps the uppermost issue in this growing city at the present time. No mention whatsoever of the people who live here. Empty suit and shill for developers is how this candidacy looks to me. Buyer beware.

    Reply to this comment
  3. YourVoteMatters
    YourVoteMatters March 22, 22:32

    *community

    Reply to this comment

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