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Meet the Candidates: Lantana

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There are three board seats up for election on May 12 in both of Lantana’s Fresh Water Supply Districts (known as Denton County Fresh Water Supply District #6 and Denton County Fresh Water Supply District #7).

It’s a crowded field in Fresh Water Supply District #6, as eight residents have filed: Bob Baird, Jim Bridges, Louie Bustillos, Fred Gaspar, Bobby Gentile, Kurt Sewell, Joe Wetegrove, and incumbent Jim VanVickle.

In less-populated District #7, incumbent Alex Teusink and newcomers Todd Beggs, Jim Lieber and Steven Kyle Martini are on the ballot.

The top three vote-getters in each district will win seats on their respective boards.

The Cross Timbers Gazette asked each candidate in a contested race to answer a short questionnaire to help you make an informed decision at the polls.  Here are their responses:

Lantana – Fresh Water Supply District #6

Bob Baird

Age:  65

Current Occupation: Owner of Home Inspection and Pest Control Company

Education:  Master, Business Administration, Boston University

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong?  Argyle United Methodist Church, Military Order of the Purple Heart

Why should you be elected? Because I have experience and common sense. While spending 20 years on active duty in the US Army, including two (2) combat tours, I worked my way through the ranks from Private, through Chief Warrant Officer, and finally retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Following the Army, I worked for American Airlines as a Pilot, Check Airman, and Manager of the 767 Fleet, where I was responsible for the safety and training of a worldwide operation. I have lived in Lantana for six (6) years and currently own a small business that includes home inspection and pest control services. I know how to stay on budget and cut expenses.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? 1. It’s citizenship! Starting as an Eagle Scout, I learned to give back to the community and nation. There is a need for leadership at the Water District and I have the time and enthusiasm to serve. Water Districts 6 & 7 need fresh oversight and new ideas. 2. I am independent and will be loyal to the residents!  I do not work for the Developer, depend on the Developer for income, accept campaign contributions from the Developer, or work for any organization associated with the Lantana Development or HOA. 3. Advocate for Water Districts 6 & 7 residents regarding the HOA. One voice may be weak, but the Water Districts can add strength to that voice. 4. Finances. It’s time for a real and complete financial review. The overhead costs need a thorough analysis to identify cost savings. There is waste. 5. Logic. The Districts pay thousands of dollars each month for rent, even though they own land in Lantana where their own facility can be built. This could provide future savings.  6. Other services. Law enforcement and service of our roads (especially during the winter weather), to name a few, could be planned. Remember the ice storm of 2011 when Lantana Trail was impassable for over a week?  There was no plan! 7. Taxes. Unlike other taxing entities, the Water Districts have no authorized tax exemptions (a minor reduction to the appraised tax value) for our seniors and disabled veterans. I think it is time to acknowledge seniors and disabled veterans for their service to our country with this minor exemption. It can most likely be absorbed through budget cuts and decreasing wasteful spending.  “I ask for your vote to serve YOU on the Water District 6 Board. Thank you.” -Bob-

Website:  Email me at bobavn@aol.com

Jim Bridges

Age:  32

Current Occupation: State Farm Agent in Bartonville

Education:  BA Texas Wesleyan University

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Board Member of Argyle Chamber of Commerce, Member of Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce, Member of Argyle United Methodist Church, Alumni Advisor for Zeta Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Order

Why should you be elected? As a current board member of the Argyle Chamber of Commerce and a small business owner who works directly with the homeowners of Lantana, I bring a unique perspective and insight to our community.  I know how to efficiently and effectively run a business as well as listen and build consensus with others, and will apply those skills to the FWSD board if elected.  Conversations about people’s homes, cars, retirement and protection of assets are the building blocks of my life’s work.  Being a member of the local government for the community I live in is only a natural extension of the career path I have chosen.  I want to be a proactive member of our community and help protect this wonderful place my family and I call home.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them?  The main challenge facing Lantana is protecting what we have while continuing to grow.  Our community continues to grow and our leadership needs to be proactive. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to insure that Lantana remains a safe and welcoming neighborhood. We need to keep our streets and community safe, our home values high, and our tax rates as low as reasonable possible.  I see a balancing act in regards to these items and feel having the right people in place to keep priorities in line are crucial during the next several years. I will work with my fellow board members to stay focused and only make decisions that align with these priorities.

Website: www.jimbridgesinsurance.com

Luis “Louie” Bustillos

Age: Did not answer

Current Occupation: National Manager for one of the largest environmental testing companies in the US.

Education: Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Science from the University of Maryland.

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong?  Attend Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

Why should you be elected? Able to listen, digest the information presented, and then solve the problem effectively.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? Increasing the infrastructure in our community to enhance our quality of life.  Top priority is increasing the road capacity leading into our community.

Frederick L Gaspar

Age: 66

Current Occupation: Consultant

Education: MBA Finance and MIS; BS EE

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Catholic, member of St. Phillips the Apostle, Lewisville.

Why should you be elected? I am a relatively new resident here, having moved from Indianapolis a couple of years back.  I have been President of my neighborhood association in Indy and managed to nurture it back to health from a fairly poor financial condition. I was able to build consensus among residents and convince them to embark on a more fiscally prudent path. Once on a solid financial position, we were able to prioritize and implement capital improvements to enhance the value of properties in the area. We were also able to build a more cohesive social community, committed to the safety and well being of all residents. I am a retired Computer Industry executive, with an MBA from Indiana University and undergraduate Electrical Engineering degree.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? The challenges that face this community appear to be that of managing growth.  While income continues to grow it is important to keep a balance between expenditure and income, always insuring that there is adequate reserve to meet unexpected events.  Last year’s drought is one such event – it is important to communicate to residents the need to conserve.  Our environment is our precious legacy that we pass on to the next generation. Building an awareness of the need to protect our natural resources should be an on going effort.  I look forward to the opportunity to helping my new community build a strong and caring society

Bobby Gentile

Age:  42

Current Occupation:  Operations Management, Vice President of Manufacturing and Logistics

Education:  B.S. Chemistry/Education, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Member of the American Legion.

Why should you be elected? I have both the experience and desire to have a positive impact on the DCFWS District #6 Board of Directors. I am a veteran of the Gulf War and have a track record of success and achieving goals utilizing strong leadership and a common sense approach to resolving issues.  My experience includes 15+ years of management in operations with direct responsibility for large budgets.   I have demonstrated the ability to deliver results in difficult times and can set a strategic vision for the future.  If elected I would prioritize safety, fiscal responsibility, maintaining appropriate levels of service, and planning for future challenges.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? There are challenges that lie ahead for our district.  Safety, fiscal control, and water supply are a few of those challenges.  As Lantana grows we must evaluate the requirements to meet the changing needs in these and all areas.  Safety and water supply are both areas that must be closely monitored.  We will create plans for the future to include performance tracking and contingency plans.  Those plans can then be implemented or adjusted based on actual events.  Effective planning and understanding when to adjust the plan are the keys to success in these areas.  Fiscal control requires creating a budget and not exceeding the spending.  This sometimes requires difficult decisions, but spending must be closely controlled to avoid property tax increases.  This fiscal control focus will keep Lantana a desirable and affordable place to live.


Kurt Sewell

Age:  42

Current Occupation:  Regional Golf Course Superintendent for Lantana Golf Club

Education: BBA from Texas A&M in 1992 (Accounting), BS from Texas A&M in 1996 (Agronomy)

To What Religious and Civic Organizations do you belong? Valley Creek Church, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, North Texas Golf Course Superintendents Association, United Sates Golf Association, Texas Turfgrass Association

Why should you be elected? I am running for the position of Director on the Fresh Water Board #6, because I would like to give back to the community I have been a part of for the past 11 and a half years.  I moved to Lantana in September 2001 and was the tenth homeowner in the community.  I serve as the Golf Course Superintendent for the Lantana Golf Club and have done so since we began construction of the course in September 2000.  As the superintendent of the course, I have worked closely with both the Developer and the Fresh Water Districts on various issues and have a good understanding how they operate together and independently of each other.

What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them? I think the primary challenge/priority for the district is to continue to protect our most valuable asset, the infrastructure.  We need to continue our strong practices of forecasting, budgeting, and repairing the infrastructure on an annual basis to insure that Lantana continues to be a very attractive place to call home.  I believe my understanding on how the district operates combined with my financial background will allow me to assist the board and district employees in this manner.  We need to continue looking for ways to improve our community from a safety and quality point of view and balance that against our fiduciary responsibility to each of the residents.

Jim VanVickle

Age: 42

Current Occupation: Construction Manager

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from University of North Texas

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Denton

Why should you be re-elected? As your board member for the last four years, I have encouraged resident participation in district business by voting to make the meetings more accessible and for the creation of a district website. I have enhanced safety by voting for expanded school zones, the construction of a concrete barrier on the Stacey Lane Bridge, and the widened sidewalk on the Branch Crossing Bridge. I participated in the traffic petition drive to allow for enforcement of our existing traffic laws. I also developed and oversaw Lantana’s Annual Earth Day event. As a fiscal conservative, I voted to refinance our bonds to save residents money and reviewed vendor bids to assure costs are in line. If re-elected I will continue to support projects that benefit residents while keeping costs to a minimum.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? One of the main challenges we face as development continues and the infrastructure ages is maintaining the original look and feel of Lantana while not increasing costs to residents.  During my time on the board I have organized community cleanups and provided free trees for residents through donations. This year’s Earth Day event we will again provide trees for residents and will also begin to replace some of the numerous trees on district property that were damaged due to severe weather the last two years. These trees will be purchased with numerous donations I have collected so that there is no cost to residents.

Joseph M (Joe) Wetegrove

Age: 58

Current Occupation: Retired/CEO Financial Industries Company

Education: BBA – University of Texas, Austin 1979; MBA – University Of Texas, Austin 1981

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? United States Navy Reserve Veteran

Why should you be elected? As a five year resident of Lantana, I am a concerned citizen who would like to serve my community in a leadership role. I would work to ensure positive changes for families in Lantana. As a retired businessman, husband of 39 years, father and Grandfather I see the importance and value of a safe and secure environment within our growing community.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? I believe that our community faces the same challenges as many communities. I will strive to keep the streets safe by working with local law enforcement. As the community continues to grow so does the need to increase revenue, I will ensure that our taxes are kept low by working with other community leaders to find other methods of generating revenue. I am determined to keep property values appreciating with my background in the financial industry I believe I have the knowledge achieve this.

Lantana – Fresh Water Supply District #7

Todd Beggs

Age: 42

Current Occupation: Vice President, Financial Services

Education: College Degree

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Supporter of St. Ann in Coppell, Volunteer for Fidelity Cares a charitable organization that supports community events like public school repainting and improvement.

Why should you be elected? I’ve lived in Lantana for five years with my family and have seen the growth in the community and the immediate area. I want to help preserve what makes Lantana great; our community facilities, family friendly activities and the Hill Country character of our grounds (i.e. trees) and homes. I have 20 years of experience in private business and think I can lend that knowledge and perspective to the Fresh Water Supply District Board.  My three children attend Lantana’s schools and we participate in Lantana-based events (music on the green, monster mile, Lantana 5K) and we use the community pools and exercise facilities so I have a strong interest in helping to support our community.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? Traffic on FM 407 is a challenge for all Lantana residents, I would work to understand what the plans are for the road between Lantana Trail and FM 2499 and ensure our residents are represented and aware of the plans and timing of any improvements. Given the size of our community and the severe weather that can frequent our region, I think we should explore outdoor warning sirens (also known as tornado sirens) to give residents an additional source of warning for inclement weather. Development within Lantana continues .. where a significant change is planned (ie tree removal, street changes, etc..) I would work to ensure residents of the area immediately impacted receive proactive communication to avoid unintended surprises.I would also try to positively influence securing an anchor grocery store at the Lantana Crossing site which will improve convenience for residents and reduce traffic and time spent on FM 407.

Jim Lieber

Age:  66

Current Occupation:  Quasi-retired business owner (16 years co-owner with my wife of ProForce Technical Staffing, Inc.)

Education:  AB Monmouth University 1968

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong?  Did not answer

Why should you be elected? DCFWD#7 has a problem getting a quorum of directors in attendance at the monthly meetings.  As of noon on the last day of filing there were no candidates running to fill the three open positions, so I volunteered to fill one of them.  Later that day, three other people filed, but since I took the time to fill out the paperwork, I’m leaving my name in.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? Electing five directors who will actually show up for the monthly meetings seems to be the biggest challenge for this district.  That may be because we are a new development and there aren’t many challenges facing us …. yet.  Showing up and learning as much as possible about the district(s) and the residents will provide the knowledge and skills necessary to face future challenges.  I am very interested in learning the inner workings of the Water District as it relates to the HOA, and the finances of the district.

Steven Martini

Age: 39

Current Occupation: South Central U.S. General Manager, Audi of America

Education: MBA Pepperdine University, B.S. Business University of Utah

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I currently teach a children’s gospel class (primary) and have previously volunteered in the Boy Scouts of America.

Why should you be elected? For nearly four years my family and I have loved living in Lantana.  I want to give back to the community by offering my time and experience to ensure that Lantana is a great place to live for years to come.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? I believe the two greatest challenges are growth and taxation.  I’m pro growth.  However, we need to ensure that Lantana can maintain a high quality of services through this fast paced growth without increasing the tax burden.  Lantana is one of the highest taxed communities in the DFW Metroplex.  We need to find solutions that provide for the services we enjoy while lowering the tax burden.

Candidate Alex Teusink did not respond to our questionnaire.

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