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Let’s get ready to rumble

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Well, here we are in the middle of another Flower Mound Council race and the fur is bound to be flying again soon. Since only two of the three seats are being challenged it means we’ll only be exposed to about 2/3 of the usual smears, lies, innuendo and other assorted folderol that occurs each year.

I’m glad to see that we have two new names added to the political landscape with the entry of Joy Bowen and Tamiko Ryan running for Place 1 and Place 5 respectively. I hope they brought their helmets and flak jackets to the arena because campaigns in this town are not for the faint of heart.

As of this writing I haven’t met either of them, but did speak briefly with Ms. Bowen by phone a few weeks ago. Her opponent, Mike Walker, has been around the block a few times when it comes to gaining experience on various boards and commissions. Mike is one of those guys who always appeared to me as too nice to be in politics. However, anyone who has reached the level of Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserves is not what I’d call a shrinking violet.

Ms. Ryan’s opponent, Councilmember Jean Levenick, is no pushover either. Ms. Levenick was on the Council for two years, from 2008 to 2010, but decided not to run for a second term. Last year, she was appointed to her current seat when Tom Hayden left it to run for Mayor.

So, let’s get ready to rumble as these valiant residents lock horns on who has the better vision for the future of our town. The only salient issue I’ve heard up to now is the one about rezoning of school boundaries and whether it can be traced to changes in the SMARTGrowth plan. Frankly, I don’t see the connection, unless LISD has decided that the projected residential growth must be considered in their current plans to rezone children from one school to another. Yet, isn’t that something the school district does whenever they become aware of new housing developments planned for the area? I suppose the only way to ensure that rezoning never occurs is to prohibit any further residential development in this town. It’s hard to come out against any plan entitled “SMARTGrowth” because it makes the opponent appear to be for stupid growth.

Nevertheless, if the plan is overly rigid, keeping us in a holding pattern while the rest of the world moves forward, perhaps, some tweaking is necessary. The operative word is “some.” As I’ve written before, the SG plan has been the glue that kept us from becoming one of those densely-populated burgs in which apartment buildings are strung up along half the roadways and gas-drilling rigs are dotting the landscape on the other half. The program was designed to mitigate the ill effects of rapid and intense urbanization and ensure that growth is served with adequate public infrastructure, services, and facilities.

I think we’re in good shape with candidates who profess their willingness to support a balanced plan of commercial and residential growth that helps ease the burden on taxpayers while not cutting back too severely on services we’ve become accustomed to.

During the next two months of meetings, public forums and news profiles, voters will have the opportunity to assess the qualifications and predilections of the candidates. It would be more illuminating if we could stick to the issues and leave the invective to the anonymous hate-mongers on the blogosphere, but, I suppose that would be asking for too much.

Therefore, the best we can hope for is recognition that the people running for office are the same people we would meet in our daily travels about town. They’re not our enemies; they’re our fellow residents and neighbors. Keep in mind; they have families who will have no choice but to go through the stress with them.

We’ve all heard about children being teased or harassed at school because of abusive rhetoric toward a parent involved in the political process. Criticizing one’s policy positions is fair game because voters should know what the candidates stand for. However, personal attacks, whether from a candidate, or a supporter of a candidate, should be considered contemptible conduct and voters should take notice. Moreover, when reprehensible behavior is displayed, candidates should publicly disavow those who engage in it, notwithstanding who the behavior was intended to hurt or help.

People who run for office are asking the public to trust them with a leadership role for the next two years. Leadership begins with a display of integrity during the campaign. Accepting support from bomb-throwers is not an example of good character.

Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor.

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