After no candidate reached 50 percent of the vote in a three-way race this May, Robson Ranch resident Don Duff is facing Paul Meltzer in a runoff election on June 10 for the Denton City Council Place 3 seat vacated by Kathleen Wazny. Early voting is underway now.
We asked each candidate to tell us about themselves and their platforms:
The main issues facing your town/district and how you would resolve them: Lack of consistency in planning. Denton is growing with a “shot gun” approach. We need a solid comprehensive plan for growth. The city’s Planning Dept is under new leadership. Also, the Planning Dept is working on a new Development Code for the city, because the current one is 30 years old. Infrastructure. Road repairs are behind schedule. I plan to assist the new City Manager to get the city back on track. Money is available from two previous bonds. Rising property taxes. To attract new businesses and people, property taxes must be kept in check. Having a City auditor should point out wasteful spending. My first option is always reduce spending not raise taxes. Public incentives to recruit quality businesses? Only when businesses meet specific criteria. How many jobs? Average salary? Will they act as a magnet for other quality businesses? What is the definition of “a quality business? How much is the incentive and how long will the city give up its collection of property taxes and sales taxes? Buckee’s and the convention center are done deals. On what areas should Denton be focusing for economic development? I35 Corridor west of City, Airport and Downtown. The west side will need a new fire station soon. Permitting and code enforcement must be streamlined. What is the shortfall of the tax freeze for over 65 and the disabled? First, a short fall of between $200,000 – $400,000 will result from this tax freeze, depending on the rise of appraised values of homesteaded homes in Denton for the over 65 and disabled residents. Denton’s overall budget is $114,000,000. That is at most a short fall of 0.2% to 0.4% of the budget. I do not understand how this small amount could cause all the gloom and doom predicted by some. During my time on the City Council, if I cannot find more than $400,000 spending to eliminate, I will consider myself to be a failure. In addition, Robson Ranch had 154 new homes completed in 2016, adding close to $400,000 in new Denton City property taxes in 2017. In the following 25 years over $400,000 plus will be added per year in new city property taxes. What will be added to the Denton budget from these new homes? HOA owns and maintains streets in Robson Ranch; DMU does not supply power to Robson. We very seldom require the services of a policeman. Denton Citizen Homeless Task Force I applaud the work of the task force; however, the Denton City Council will have the final say regarding all funding for programs, including programs for the homeless. The budget is complicated and demands are many. This cannot be a “government only” solution. It has to be a joint effort of non-profits (like Serve Denton, the Monsignor King Shelter, and the Salvation Army) along with volunteers from the community and support from the City Council. Denton Planning & Zoning and affordable housing: The Denton Planning & Zoning Commission is a totally independent and separate body from the Denton City Council. They are part of a “checks and balances” system where each body hears, evaluates and votes independently. P&Z will act independently to decide issues regarding affordable housing. City Council will act independently to decide issues regarding affordable housing. The decision will be driven by the cost of land, the cost to build, and Federal or State programs subsidizing costs for developers. The budget impact also has to be considered, as some affordable housing projects do not pay property tax to the city. Balance of energy and air quality: Denton Municipal Utilities (DMU) is currently negotiating a 20 year purchase of wind and solar power. DMU’s goal is to be 70% wind and solar. The 12 natural gas generators being purchased emit only CO2. The real advantage of the natural gas generators is they can be fired up in less than 5 minutes. Plus the fact we are sitting on top of an enormous amount of cheap natural gas. Denton’s bad air quality comes from our location. The main source of bad air comes from vehicles and Dallas has a lot of vehicles and the wind blows in our direction. DMU is also working to sell the coal fired plant of which the City of Denton is part owner. Even though this is one of the cleanest coal fired plants (uses coal from Montana) it costs more than gas generators to produce electricity. Ethics Ordnance: A charter committee has the task of producing an ethics ordnance to present to the City Council. Hopefully the City Council will either pass the ethics ordnance or put in on the ballot. If this does not happen, there will be a petition to do so. I do know how to manage a petition. Denton is entering a new period. We have a new city manager who, after just one month has made major changes to his organization. Denton had 4 assistance city mangers making $160k+ a year. One is retiring and another has been demoted. More department heads will now report directly to the City Manager. Since 2011, Denton has not had a City Auditor. We now have one. Wasted money should be easier to find. The City Atty has also retired. Hopefully a professional search will result in hiring a new City Atty. My stance on Police and Firefighters is to make sure they have what they need to do their job. Several new fire stations are in the process of being built. The new fire station one mile from the entrance to Robson Ranch is being built. Cleveland-Gibbs road will be completed all the way to Robson Ranch Road. This fire station is a joint venture between Denton, Argyle and North Lake and will be manned by Argyle. An additional fire station located by the Denton Regional Hospital should be started within the next two years. The industrial area and airport will need a fire station soon. SRO’s (Single Resident Occupancy) must have adequate parking and not destroy existing neighborhood home values. SRO’s are 5 story apt buildings with 4 BR with bath and shared common areas, primarily for college students. Two are now in the process. One has been turned down by Planning & Zoning. Because P & Z turned it done, when it came before the City Council, it required a super majority (5 votes) to pass. The zoning change was rejected with only a 4 to 3 vote for. I have looked at this site and there is no way I would vote to approve this SRO. The second one, I will have an open mind at this point. The old football stadium might be a great location for University-Private partnership to build SRO’s. There is a problem with the permitting and code enforcement in Denton. Businesses are going elsewhere rather than deal with the problems. Robson Sales office completed 154 homes in 2016. Their estimate is they could have built 220 new homes without delays by Denton. Many other issues will come before the City council. Like Kathleen, I have a history of getting things done.
Why voters should elect you: I am a conservative native Texan. My opponent is a liberal progressive even though he tried to sound like a conservative.
Current occupation: Real Estate Broker – Electronic Engineer-Started 3 successful business
Education: BSEE Electrical Engineer from University of Texas Arlington
Current civic involvement: Support our Troops at Robson Ranch, support Women’s Shelter in Denton.
Past civic service: not much, I have been working making a living
Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings or civil suits? If so, please explain: NO
Any additional comments: Denton county Appraisal District (DCAD) has raised appraised values. It’s important that everyone protests their appraisal. Go as early as you can as DCAD will get very busy later in the month. Now what else can we do? With the appraisal increase on properties across the City of Denton, there will be a substantial increase in revenue coming to the City from property taxes. Residential and Commercial new construction will also increase the revenue coming to the City from property taxes. With the increase in revenue, an option for City Council will be to lower the tax rate. As a member of City Council, I’ll support a reduction of the tax rate. The city’s budget will be under review this summer. The new City Council will be crunching numbers to balance the needs of the City with responsible fiscal decisions. As a member of City Council, I’ll work to build a solid fiscal foundation for the City, asking the tough questions and helping to trim the fat. There are high expectations that the new City Manager will bring forward “Zero Based Budgeting” which means that each department will have to justify any increase in their budget from the previous year. Many cities operate under this scenario, and I support this baseline for the City of Denton. The Budget and the Tax Rate. Both will be my focus on City Council. Keeping support for our Police and Fire Departments, and acknowledging their needs in a growing community like Denton, I firmly believe we can come forward with a solid budget and a reduced tax rate.
Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook Page: www.RobsonRanchRoad.com/id894.html
The main issues facing your town/district and how you would resolve them: We must guide growth to leverage Denton’s strengths without losing its unique character. I will protect neighborhoods, undo the bias against local independent small businesses in the economic development policy, and benchmark practices to get permitting done in hours, not weeks. Management restructuring will keep property taxes in check.
Why voters should elect you: I bring a thirty-year track record of large organization leadership as a corporate exec with companies including General Mills, Campbell Soup, and Time-Warner Cable, the last 12 years at the VP or SVP level. I have a demonstrated record of commitment to service to the community as a volunteer with United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army and others. And I will draw on my relationships throughout the city to build consensus behind the needs of Robson Ranch and District Three in general.
Current occupation: Retired new product exec.
Education: BA, Wesleyan University. MBA, Dartmouth College.
Current civic involvement: Volunteer financial coach with United Way, Salvation Army volunteer, Board VP for Thin Line Fest, member of Rotary Club of Denton. Instructor, UNT Emeritus College (OLLI).
Past civic service: Created historic interpretive signs along Denton Rail Trail as volunteer with the Historic Landmark Commission.
Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings or civil suits? If so, please explain: No.
Any additional comments: In a time of growth when Denton nevertheless needs to tighten its budget, city council would benefit from large organization leadership skills on council to help work with the new City manager and auditor. We need to consolidate administrative overheads, and build departmental budgets up from zero based on activities.
Early voting is going on now at the following locations:
Early Voting Locations Dates and Times:
Tuesday-Saturday, May 30 – June 3, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday-Tuesday, June 5 – 6, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Denton County Elections Administration
701 Kimberly Dr., Denton
Frisco Fire Station #4
4485 Cotton Gin, Frisco
Frisco Fire Station #7
330 W Stonebrook Pkwy., Frisco
Griffin Middle School
3703 Eldorado Pkwy., Frisco
Lewisville Municipal Annex
1197 W. Main Street, Lewisville
6200 Windhaven Pkwy., Plano
Click here for more voting information.