Fire Fighters and Police
I’m proud that during my 6 1/2 years as mayor city voters have approved $78 million to benefit the Denton Police Department (DPD) and Denton Fire Department. In addition, the City Council approved an additional $8 million to ensure the fire department can improve response time quickly.
The City of Denton fire fighters and EMS firefighters receive critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources necessary for protecting the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.
On my watch, the community has gained a Fire Burn Tower, a new fire training facility, and four new or reconstructed fire stations, with additional fire stations on the drawing board. An additional fire station was built in a public-public partnership with Denton County Emergency Services District No. 1 to provide faster response time to the southwest area of our city.
In addition for greater efficiency, we’ve taken delivery of a new light and air truck emergency response vehicle with the ability to refill O2 tanks onsite.
Police and other law enforcement are under seige today across the country, yet, without them, society would be in chaos. I fully support law enforcement, including funding for personnel, training, equipment and facilities, as demonstrated by my record.
Last year, the Denton City Council approved construction of the city’s first police substation, a 15-lane indoor gun range to replace an outdoor range, and one major renovation/reconstruction and one smaller renovation of our downtown police station.
To better serve citizens, the Denton Police Department is transitioning current vacancies into a Mental Health Unit that will pair Denton police officers with trained, licensed social workers to respond to calls determined by a trained mental health worker to potentially involve mental-health crises.
Our DPD also recently launched a “Take Me Home,” a free service in which residents may register loved ones who may have difficulty communicating or identifying themselves to first responders, including those with autism, Down Syndrome, Alzheimer’s, dementia or other developmental or intellectual disability.
During protests in June, an estimated 5,000 protesters filled the historic Denton Square one afternoon/night, with spin-off marches to other parts of the City, yet we had only one incident, vandalism with spray paint, thanks to the peaceful nature of the protest and our fully trained and well-prepared police force.
I support the current laws of the state of Texas regarding responsible gun ownership. I was the victim of an armed robbery as a teenager, so I understand the overwhelming fear and sense of powerlessness that comes when someone sticks a gun in your side. The fact is, people who want to steal, rob, maim and kill find access to firearms, whether legal or illegal. It is imperative that Texans have the right to bear arms for the protection of their families and their community. Overregulation of firearms will diminish the ability of law-abiding citizens to feel safe and protect themselves, those they love and their community.
Private Property Rights
Private property rights is the bedrock of our republic. The ability to own land and do with it what you want is the foundation of autonomy and generational wealth. It is crucial that we continue to protect private property rights against governmental overreach.
One example is the agricultural and exemption and roll-back tax that is applied when land loses its agricultural exemption. Currently, the look-back period is 3 years and the interest rate is 5%, which means if an owner decides to remove the exemption, he is charged with 3 years of taxes at the current rate without the agricultural exemption. I strongly disagree with this regulation unless the property is sold and the exemption is removed.
Agricultural exemptions are good public policy promoting cultivation of crops, livestock management, and wildlife management, etc. Maintaining the rollback rate when the property continues to be held by the owner, even without the exemption, penalizes the owner and disincentives agricultural activities.
Public School Funding
The state of Texas is solely responsible for public school financing. Public school financing is a combination of local taxpayer dollars and state funding. Over the last 8 years, the share of state funding for public education has decreased from 55%-60% to 38-40%, thus transferring about $6 billion of public education costs into the pocketbooks of local taxpayers.
The hole is deep. The last legislative session attempted to increase state funding for public schools, presumably to decrease local property taxes. If you are in a high-appraisal growth area, you may see some relief. However, property owners in areas where assessed values are flat and not rising will see virtually no relief.
We must continue to seek solutions that provide parity between local funding and state funding of public education.
Protection of the unborn
I believe in protecting the life of the unborn. Texas laws supporting the life of the unborn continue to test the limits of Roe v Wade, as evidenced by the U.S. Supreme Court case In 2016.
I also believe we should continue to support the lives of those born. Texas must improve the support of those in custodial care. Currently, a child exiting the foster care system at the age of 18 is able to have assistance paying college-related expenses. However, often that is not enough. I support responsible legislation to give these children the best opportunity to thrive. Texas should be as protective of children after birth as we are of children prior to birth.
As mayor, I have worked closely with local governments and non-profits to increase the scope and quality of services offered to veterans. To that end, Denton was able to secure Veterans Administration Supportive Housing Vouchers administered through our local non-profit housing agency to provide housing and case management services to veterans. As an owner of rental property, I have leased at affordable rates to homeless veterans referred by local non-profits. Great satisfaction comes in seeing a veteran who was on the street find a home, get a job, and become self-sufficient again.
Texas should explore additional programs to provide greater assistance to veterans, including public-private partnerships that will aid veterans.
All public policies and regulations begin with a visionary idea. It could be one word or one sentence. The path between the vision and implementation is where the rubber meets the road.
This vetting process first takes commitment to the process and willingness to listen to all interests. Determination of the various interests that flow from the vision and identification of unintended consequences of rules and regulations comes next. Finally, comes negotiation of a policy that maximizes the benefit to the entire community. Ultimately, the public policy must work in application.
As an elected official at the grassroots level for more than 12 years, I have worked day-in and day-out to create effective public policy. My education, private business experience and public service have equipped me to apply my skills in listening and negotiation to the issues facing Senate District 30 and to find solutions that benefit all citizens of the district.