As the sun bathes the city in summer light and 90-degree temps, you saunter over to the nearest polling place. The date is May 6th, and it's time to vote for your next city council representative. Read on for an in depth look into the folks that will be asking for your vote in May.
Maybe friends made you get up early, or maybe you’re super jazzed to rock the vote, and you just missed when early voting began on April 24th. Whatever the case is, you’re here now, and you’re about to have your voice heard in the most consequential city council races since…well, the last one. There’s just one problem: As you look down at the ballot, you realize that you don’t know anything about any of these candidates.
Wait..seriously? You really don’t know anything about these people? No, that’s not Willie Hudspeth, that’s his son. Get it together, dude.
Suddenly, you wake up from this nightmare. It was just a dream, and you’ve actually been reading this helpful candidate guide the whole time. Go figure!
As of this morning, the race for city council has started. All of the boring stuff (filing paperwork) has finally ended, and now the campaigns can begin!
As we mentioned earlier this year, getting involved in local politics is just one way to make an impact on your community. Voting is cool; informed voting is cooler. That’s why we reached out to all eight candidates campaigning for council. Before you cast your ballot in May’s city council election, you should read everything you can about the men and women vying for these seats. However, since you’ll probably want to also meet this fine folks, we’re hosting a candidate forum at Dan’s Silverleaf on April 17th!
Study up (then drink up at the forum) and get to know who your next rep might be!
“The theme is increase,” Hudspeth said in our exclusive interview about his candidacy. “Increase fiscal responsibility, increase transparency and increase community involvement.” With a resume that roams from law to data management and stints with the Planning and Zoning Committee, the Tomás River PTA and—the toughest gig of all—single parenthood, Gerard Hudspeth believes he has the work ethic and the organizational skills to handle the challenges facing the city he’s lived in his whole life. Furthermore, fighting for Denton is nothing new for him—he travelled to Austin to meet with George P. Bush about the fracking lawsuit. One of his central foci will be “getting the budget as lean and mean as possible,” but he also looks forward to being a friendly face and voice for his fellow Denton denizens. His favorite thing about Denton is that the sense of community and family that you can feel everywhere you go.
As a city councilwoman, Dr. White would focus her efforts on increasing voter turnout while addressing road construction, environmental issues and the needs of the homeless. She’s lived in Denton as a service industry worker, a student and now a teacher, and believes her many experiences as a citizen and volunteer give her the diverse perspective the city needs right now.
Speaking to us from the Big Bender Music Festival in Marathon Texas, Dr. White—an English professor at North Central Texas College—waxed poetic about her 19 years in Denton. My favorite part about Denton is, obviously, the people,” she said. “We are a fortunate blend of artists, scholars, dreamers, lovers, thinkers, hopers, and doers in a community known for its endless compassion. The relationships among Dentonite are life-long and genuine.”
Ms. Hawes is a political newcomer and a last-minute, surprise entry into the District 1 race—which just got even more interesting. She works as a caretaker, and did not name a treasurer when she filed her candidacy paperwork on Friday. Ms. Hawes could not be reached in time for the publication of this story.
District 2 Candidate
Ms. Briggs is running unopposed in District 2, where she has served for two years as a city councilwoman since winning a race against now-District 4 candidate John Ryan. She believes that her time on the council has made her a stronger leader for her fellow citizens, and she is eager to continue working “to see that we responsibly invest taxpayer dollars in ways that improve service to citizens and improve our community’s overall quality of life.” Additionally, her favorite thing about Denton is the passionate people, and as a city councilwoman, she would be prepared to answer the call—literally: “You have to answer every call. You have to read every letter. You have to open every email. You have to communicate consistently and openly with people and community stake holders whether you agree with them or not.”
District 3 Candidates
Having just filed his paperwork this week, Mr. Cole is the newcomer to the crowded and exciting District 3 race. The longtime Denton resident’s family has been here for 100 years, and Cole has no plans to leave. He believes serving on city council is the best way to give back to his community—a community he believes desperately needs a champion. “Every campaign, someone talks about being a champion for small business, but nothing ever comes of it,” he said. Being a voice for those marginalized businesses will be a big part of his campaign and potential candidacy, as will the boys in blue. “I believe we need an elite police force to deal with drug-related crime we’re seeing in our area,” he said, “and if it costs a little extra money to bring us security, then I think that’s money well spent.” But at the end of the day, Cole is all about unity: “The ‘Hell No’s on both sides need to come together,” he said. With experience negotiating contracts in the biotech and pharma industries, he believes he can cross the aisle and calm the storms he sees brewing in the city he loves. “Some of us are yuppies, some of us are hippies and some of us are rednecks,” he said. “I love our diversity, and I love that we’re all Dentonites. Serving [on the council] would be an act of love.”
Instead of hoping for someone else to do it, Paul Meltzer says he will try to bring vision and accountability to the council himself. He is excited to bring his three decades of business experience to the table to ensure that the city is choosy with its developments, and that Denton gets better, not just bigger. Plus, Paul is passionate about alleviating homelessness in our city, installing common sense road repair, and rethinking the gas plant investment so that debt, emissions and sustainability are all fully accounted for. As a longtime, enthusiastic patron of the arts, Mr. Meltzer—the VP of the upcoming Thin Line Fest—also hopes to turn some of the city’s unused municipal buildings into galleries and studios that will further strengthen Denton’s strong arts scene. For Paul, it’s all about serving “the good-spirited, creative, up-for-a-good-time people” that are his favorite part of the city.
He may be best known as the Resident Realtor of Robson Ranch, but Don Duff has been all over. From his time designing military tech in Italy, Hong Kong and Singapore to his time as a computer cartridge manufacturer in Silicon Valley, the Army and real estate veteran has over five decades of experience in a variety of fields. Now, he hopes to transfer these skills to local government, since deciding to run after Kathleen Wazny’s announcement that she would not seek re-election. Duff could not be reached in time for the publication of this story.
District 4 Candidates
Local businessman and former council rep John Ryan first came to Denton to study at what was then North Texas State University. He graduated in 1987 with a degree in Mathematics, and has since started several companies and served on the boards of several area nonprofits. Ryan is vying to return to the council after his previous stint ended with a defeat in 2015, and if elected, he looks forward to focusing on an issue that he thinks has been swept under the rug. “Water conservation kind of gets lost under the hot topics, but it’s something we need to be seriously looking at,” he said. Apart from that, he hopes to focus on road repair, and continue to serve to the city that has given so much to him and others. “Denton is a vibrant, eclectic town that has something for everyone,” he said. “I’ve been blessed by the town, and want to give back.
Time to Servis Your City. Servis for the Community. The campaign slogans practically write themselves, but however you say it, Servis—the owner or Lucky Locks Beauty Bar—is hoping to be a change agent in the community. We, as citizens, don't feel that there is enough transparency on city council,” she said. “I want to provide a way for the needs, wants and concerns of the citizens of district 4 to be heard.” She is passionate about domestic violence education, and, along with Denton County Friends of the Family, is spearheading a citywide justice campaign that will launch at 940’s on April 11th. “I hope to use my position on City Council to maximize advocacy and awareness amongst our community,” Servis says, and “use my platform to inspire others to get more involved and to be a voice for those that don't have one.” Ultimately, it’s all about Servis-ing what she calls the “melting pot” that is Denton, and her favorite part of the city is that it embraces its history while also striving for change.
Now that you know more about these aspiring leaders, come to Dan’s for a cheers and a chat with them on April 17th. It’s the best and most fun way to get informed—and avoiding that nightmare scenario of blanking in the voting booth.