Friday, April 12, 2024

Denton District 4 candidates bring different backgrounds to race

Three candidates are seeking the open District 4 seat on Denton City Council this spring, and while they all bring different professional and service experience to the race, they share some priorities, including repealing a voter-approved ordinance to decriminalize marijuana.

The District 4 seat — which covers much of the southern section of town — is currently vacant because Robson Ranch residents successfully recalled Alison Maguire from the seat in November. Maguire’s politics do not align with the mostly conservative Robson Ranch area — a large retirement community west of Argyle — but in late 2021, the City Council approved a new council district map that moved Robson Ranch into District 4.

April 6 is the last day to register to vote, and the last day to apply for ballot by mail is April 25. Early voting will run April 26 through May 2, and Election Day is May 6. Click here for more information about voting in Denton County.

In separate interviews on Friday, the three candidates discussed why they chose to run and what their priorities would be, if elected. See more information about each candidate, in alphabetical order, below.

Joe Holland

Joe Holland, a 71-year-old former Justice of the Peace in Denton County, said he decided to run after he realized he could help address some of the issues he’d noticed.

“My wife and I were driving on South Elm Street, and we were bouncing and bumping, and I casually remarked that somebody needs to do something about these roads,” Holland said. “Then I thought, ‘Maybe that’s me.”

Holland, who has lived in Denton his whole life, said his priorities on council would be improving road conditions, supporting Denton’s police and fire departments, and maintaining or reducing the city’s tax rate. He also wants to improve the city’s business community.

“I want to be on the ground floor to help implement an economic development fund,” Holland said. “I think an economic incentive could lure some good, strong businesses into Denton, which would contribute to the tax burden and provide jobs and improve residents’ quality of life.”

Holland said he wants residents to know he’s “a law-and-order guy,” adding that the city’s “laws need to be observed and respected,” referring to the recent decision by Denton voters to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession.

“I think the marijuana ordinance must be repealed by the next City Council, sooner rather than later,” Holland said. “The Texas Senate and House is charged with making laws, and the city can’t override that.”

When asked what differentiates him from the other two candidates, Holland said he simply doesn’t know.

“Prior to my filing, I didn’t know the other two candidates,” he said. “It’s difficult to say what sets us apart. I don’t know them and I don’t know anybody that knows them.”

For more information about Holland, visit

Stephanie Neuharth

Stephanie Neuharth, a 35-year-old loan officer, said she’s running because she wants to give “back to the community that became my family.”

Neuharth is all about fiscal responsibility.

“With my experience in account management, auditory compliance and our small business, I know I can provide valuable input that aligns with District 4’s values,” Neuharth said. “Denton is growing and needs a steady voice finding solutions, not problems.”

She said her priorities, if elected, would be reducing tax burdens and cutting costs while also fully supporting Denton’s police and fire departments.

“As we expand, that’s not an area we can allow to get behind,” Neuharth said.

Neuharth said “stewardship, responsiveness and trust” is what sets her apart from her opponents.

“Stewardship is in my background, that’s what I have done for 15 years, is work as a liaison between clients and companies to make sure their best interests always at heart based on individual needs, including making sure they are always responded to,” she said.

Regarding the marijuana ordinance, Neuharth said she agrees that it needs to be repealed because it is “fiscally irresponsible to put us in position to be sued by the state.”

Neuharth said she wants to earn residents’ votes so she can “support the voices of District 4.”

“As a mother with children growing up in this community, there is no one who wants to see Denton thrive as much as me.”

For more information about Neuharth, go to or

Donald Thornton

Donald Thornton, a 56-year-old financial analyst for a pharmaceutical company, said he decided to run for council because he wants “peace and prosperity for the city.” Thornton’s priorities would be keeping property taxes affordable, promoting economic development and address homelessness in Denton.

“We need a compassionate but firm hand for the homeless, with government and faith-based programs to help them,” Thornton said. “But we also need a zero-tolerance policy. If they want help, we should provide the services we need. But if they don’t want the help, we need to have the resources to tell them to move on.”

Thornton believes downtown Denton is a “hidden gem,” and he’d like an economic development team to promote local small businesses and attract larger businesses to move to Denton, which would help offset rising residential property taxes.

“I’d like to use downtown Grapevine as a model,” Thornton said.

Thornton serves on the Denton Police Chief Advisory Board, and he believes his intricate relationship with the city and police department sets him apart from his opponents.

“I can talk to safety more than anybody else,” he said. “Also I have a passion for numbers, and numbers don’t lie. And I think my grit and toughness to get things done for our city” sets him apart.

Like his opponents, Thornton also believes that the marijuana ordinance needs to be repealed.

“City law cannot supersede state law,” he said. “It’s a waste of time and emotions to get everybody riled up. There’s no way to implement it, so it needs to be repealed.”

For more information about Thornton, go to

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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