North Texas Daily

Watts and Johnson get endorsements, debate at candidate forum

Watts and Johnson get endorsements, debate at candidate forum

Dalton Gregory looks on as Sarah Bagheri speaks. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Watts and Johnson get endorsements, debate at candidate forum
April 05
07:12 2016

Alejandro Medellin | Staff Writer

@skinny_fats

Water treatment, tax breaks, LinkedIn and even fruit trees were debated Monday night at a city council race forum hosted by the Denton Firefighter’s Association.

After the debate, Denton firefighters endorsed Mayor Chris Watts, who is unopposed as he seeks a second term, and place 6 councilman Greg Johnson in their respective races.

Thursday is last day to register to vote, and early voting begins April 25.

The debate for place 5

Deborah Armintor, Mike Cheves and Sam Ortiz looked to replace place 5 councilman Dalton Gregory. Will Wooten is also running for the same seat but was not present at the meeting.

Armintor answered, when asked what set her apart from her opponents, that she was a woman, for one, and also a teacher, unlike her opponent. She went on to say she had a more penny-pinching mentality when it comes to government.

“I feel like I’m more in touch with your average person, which might sound funny after I said I had a Ph.D., but professors don’t make as much as you think, unlike my opponent,” Armintor said. “You are rich aren’t you? Compared to most people anyway,” she said to Gregory.

Cheves brought up his business acumen and at one point gloated about his many LinkedIn connections, some of which were with CEO’s.

“I’m a business man,” said Cheves. “As a managing consultant I have more leadership than anyone on place 5 at this stage in the game.”

Ortiz ran on several issues like lowering incarceration rates, increasing wind and energy production because of its “free” aspects and promoting the importance of community orchards.

“I would like to see fruit trees in all the parks,” said Ortiz. “I mean, wouldn’t that be nice to go to the parks and just have a fruit in the summer.”

Dr. Deborah Armintor talks to the audience during the a city council forum. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Dr. Deborah Armintor talks to the audience during the a city council forum. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Experience and skills

Past city council accomplishments were brought up by Gregory, stating that his record was on the line.

“Other than being the richest guy running for place 5, I’m the oldest for sure and I got a record actually,” Gregory said. “I don’t have to say I promise you things and not deliver.”

Johnson, already a member of city council, spoke on his ability to handle the city budget.

“You have to have an understanding of how to manage a big budget like that and an understanding on how to use debt,” Johnson said.

Sara Bagheri, a practicing lawyer running against Johnson for place 6, emphasized the importance of government transparency and higher standard of ethics.

“I’m a gardener, and you don’t keep everything in the garden, but what you take out of that garden, you leave space for growth and for the things that you truly value,” said Bagheri. “That’s kind of my approach to building and destroying.”

Sara Bagheri is running for Greg Johnson’s place 6 on the Denton City Council | Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Sara Bagheri is running for Greg Johnson’s place 6 on the Denton City Council. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Denton’s water and tax incentives

One question that seemed to take the candidates by surprise, involved the water treatment facility controversy that was first reported by this newspaper earlier this year.

Johnson said that about 75 percent of cities in Texas also failed the water treatment test because of a very minor and deeply-buried change in the law concerning what water treatment facilities were required to test. Johnson went on to explain that the state apologized for not being clear.

“We’ve blown it out of proportion to make it seem like we’re the next Detroit but our waste water department does a fantastic job and when you turn that faucet on, you’re drinking clean water,” said Johnson.

Another hotly debated topic came in the form of tax abatements and incentives that cities can give out to companies, which allows the company to not pay taxes.

Some of the candidates were divided, saying the city council only gives it to big business and not small business owners. Armintor flat out said she is “against tax abatements period.”

Mayor Watts, in order to clarify, said that these companies that come in build roads and sewage that in turn help out the city, which is why they were reimbursed.

“I think companies would come to Denton if we were easier to deal with,” said Cheves.

Featured Image: Dalton Gregory looks on as Sarah Bagheri speaks. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer 

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