The public candidate forums during the election season are a great way to learn about the candidates true views on key issues. During these events, there are no people to represent us or scripts to read. The first forum for those running for Flower Mound Town Council was held recently by the Denton County Republican Club. As expected, the inevitable question about our views on gas drilling was asked of each candidate. My opponent, Joy Bowen, provided an answer that surprised not only me, but many others.
Ms. Bowen stated that gas drilling “shouldn’t be treated any differently than any other development” and that gas drilling should be “encouraged because it’s a great source of income for the Town.”
Ms. Bowen’s statements show a level of disregard for the damage the gas drilling debates have done to our community and an almost total lack of understanding of our ordinances. The past divisive debates and petition over gas drilling nearly ripped Flower Mound apart and stalled growth.
Let me state unequivocally, any council candidate that would like to encourage gas drilling is in reality asking for a return to a time when neighbors were pitted against neighbors. No responsible community leader would advocate for a return to such turmoil.
Being a new participant in Flower Mound civic affairs, it is possible that Ms. Bowen just doesn’t understand the weight of her statements. Ms. Bowen should start with the basics. The existing and potential drilling pad sites are not treated as any other development in Flower Mound. Gas drilling is addressed in a separate and more detailed ordinance that places greater emphasis on environmental protection, adjacent property impacts, public safety and use of mineral rights. In addition, our Master Plan and SMARTGrowth Analysis do not regulate gas drilling.
Next, stating that gas drilling is a great source of income for Flower Mound seems to imply that Ms. Bowen believes the Town should lease its mineral rights. The Town’s mineral rights lie under parks, trails, roads, Town Hall, the Community Activity Center, etc. The residents of Flower Mound spoke loudly about these issues in 2010. Any candidate running for Council that advocates the leasing of the Town’s mineral rights would be disregarding these very important debates, public sentiments and a decisive election.
On a personal note, it is ironic that Ms. Bowen would make such statements while her supporters have questioned my position on gas drilling (my website: www.walkerforfm.com has an FAQ on these issues).
Let me say for the record, I fully support the ordinances Flower Mound has worked so hard to establish. I would never encourage the Town to lease its minerals, increase drilling based on a great source of income, and treat drilling the same as any other development . As I have previously stated, to do so would be equivalent to advocating for returning Flower Mound to a horribly divisive time.
It is possible that Ms. Bowen did not completely understand Flower Mound’s gas drilling ordinance or the tough lessons we have learned. Her lack of understanding may have caused her to misstate her own position on gas drilling.
There really is no way of knowing if she understood what she was saying or not, but what the residents of Flower Mound do know about Ms. Bowen should give them pause.
Even before my opponent entered the council race, she demonstrated a lack of understanding of local government (e.g. LISD v. Flower Mound )responsibilities, structure and statutory authority, SMARTGrowth and the Master Plan.
Through public statements and voting guides, Ms. Bowen has openly advocated for disregarding the advice of the Town Attorney, and continues to insist the Town can dictate actions to LISD during their rezoning process, when it simply cannot. She also has clearly misrepresented the parks and trail system at our new Lakeside DFW project , and the significant value Lakeside DFW will bring to Flower Mound. But even more troubling is that now Ms. Bowen has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of how gas drilling is regulated in Flower Mound, and seems to be advocating increased drilling activity since it is a great source of Town income.
The residents of Flower Mound should not have to take their time to try to understand whether or not Ms. Bowen has a grasp of the key issues and facts, or if she is just misrepresenting them. The citizens of Flower Mound need a candidate that has Town experience, gets the facts straight and can continue moving our community forward.
Based on my background, I represent the clear choice for Flower Mound Town Council Place 1. Cast your vote for my steady, thoughtful leadership for Place 1 this May. Please vote for Mike Walker.
Michael J. Walker
Candidate for Town Council – Town of Flower Mound, Place 1
Flower Mound, TX