For a few years now, BikeDenton has authored City Council candidate questionnaires with a slightly hands-off approach; just let the candidates answer. This year however, we initially debated on doing the same, but with the lack of progress on badly needed and desired livability/mobility infrastructure -significantly so in the recent years since the Bicycle & Pedestrian Mobility Plan’s approval- we decided hands-off wasn’t going to cut it this year.
So we went to the candidate forums, catalogued their relevant platforms, and took into consideration their past actions and direction to provide the following:
The BikeDenton endorsed candidates for the 2014 May Election
District 2: Glen Farris (Squibb)
Glen, proprietor of the ever-popular Denton culture blog We Denton Do It, is seeking his first term for District 2. This term will only serve the remaining year of seat being vacated by Dalton Gregory in favor of Place 5 and will be up for election again next year. Farris has served on a few boards and commissions within the City but most notably formed the Downtown Denton Neighborhood Association and currently serves as its President.
There’s a noticeable lack of platform across both his official site and Facebook page, but in our estimation, Glen has continually championed the compact growth models that demand better active mobility and interconnectivity – and not just of his own district, but towards SE Denton and other more traditionally neglected portions of Denton. Specifically, he has stated that a shake-up in City development code is required to meet the desires of Denton citizens.
Glen recently saw to fruition a Neighborhood Empowerment Grant that has brought the above stylized lil ‘d’ bike racks to soon proliferate the Square and beyond. These racks came under collaboration with Denton Parks & Recreation and Starr Studios. We’d like to especially thank Glen and P&R for seeking us out for input regarding the racks’ design and functionality, and then actually heeding our comments.
What we hope to see from Glen Farris in the future is not only an enthusiasm for these individual projects, but a dedication to mobility in office.
At-Large Place 5: Dalton Gregory
Dalton, the current District 2 Council Member and retired DISD principal, has been the primary champion of active mobility efforts on the City Council for the last few years. There have certainly been others on Council who share our values, but Dalton has always been the most ardent, vocal supporter and policy-maker in these regards.
A speedy bicyclist himself, Dalton has been Denton’s primary City official attuned to BikeTexas, NAACTO, and the progressive efforts both in-state and abroad.
In the frustrating years since the Denton Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan has passed and been adopted, Gregory has continually attacked to the root of stalled implementation: an apathetic and stubborn City Engineering staff. On account of staff continually failing his requested reports and policy-directed criteria, they will need to start being held accountable. We know Dalton will be at the head of that process.
At-Large Place 6: Greg Johnson (uncontested)
You will know Greg Johnson at this point more for the development footprint of Verus Real Estate, of which he is CEO. Their recent and rapid foray into prime locations of Denton property has received mixed reviews and success, but there appears to be a willingness on his part to develop primarily where livability is easiest, and to perpetuate doing so.
He has vocally shared Dalton Gregory’s frustrations over City staff and more directly wants to see them replaced. (!) His grievances seem to lie more with the difficulty in getting right-of-way, sidewalks, and general pedestrian mobility to gel but have met hampering by the City code and staff to do so.
We say godspeed to you Greg in helping to clear such messes up.
In this case, we feel it important to note the cases of each candidate, and to highlight their varying degrees in prioritizing active mobility in Denton.
Most notably a community-access television show host, Donna has volunteered in various capacities in Denton for the last decade. While we have not heard a direct desire or discussion on active mobility, Woodfork is quick to champion a cause to expand access and availability to public transportation across and beyond Denton. Her desire for a more comprehensive and reliable transportation service is duly appreciated by us here at BikeDenton, but we would like to see a stronger commitment to mobility beyond the confines of four to six wheels.
A former District 4 Council Member and real-estate investor, Chris is re-entering the Denton political sphere for the Mayoral race. His mantra is one of balancing the City’s budget and taking a particular approach to economic development. From his website, Watts dedicates one single line to issues of bikes:
Continue to increase number of bike-lane miles.
This is fine and all, but we really wish to have seen more from Chris this election cycle in regards to our causes.
Schaake, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for UNT’s College of Arts & Sciences and current chair to the Denton Planning & Zoning board, has continually expressed a need for Denton development to highlight a walkable, urban culture. She champions Better Block initiatives and we have personally witnessed her advocacy for pedestrian- and bicycle-scalable (not vehicle-scalable) planning when it comes to block sizes and code. It’s again, not among the forefront of her campaign, but Jean exhibits a more active line of thinking that we of BikeDenton also subscribe to.
We were reminded recently that while any candidate can publicly include active mobility and complete streets, scaled livability, etc. to their official platforms, it’s how high of a priority those items are that tends to matter. For this reason, we endorse Dr. Jean Schaake for Mayor of the City of Denton.
Now, it’s very important to note that the issues of BikeDenton are one or two in a whole slew of important topics facing our fair City. So while we greatly encourage you to take our endorsements into consideration, we even more strongly encourage your own in-depth analysis of the candidates and how their ideas could impact your day-to-day lives and futures.
But do so quickly; Early Voting begins next week from April 28th – May 3rd (8 AM to 5 PM), resumes again May 5th & 6th (7 AM to 7 PM), and then election day will be upon us Saturday, May 10th (7 AM to 7 PM).
We greatly look forward to working with whomever is elected to serve and guide our beloved Denton this year, especially looking first to secure and affirm primary rather than supplemenatal budgetary funding for bicycle infrastructure.
Go get ’em, Dentonites.