Ballot Box

There are two seats up for election on the Celina City Council. In Place 4, incumbent Carmen Roberts, Wendie Wigginton and Ben Hangartner are squaring off. In Place 5, incumbent Mindy Koehne faces Lanford Rodgers. Below are questions asked by the Celina Record and their responses:

Ben Hangartner

Place 4

General contractor

Number of years in the city: 14 years

What do you think is the most pressing issue in the city, and how would you address it?

Ben Hangartner

Ben Hangartner

The most pressing issue in the city right now is planned growth through our infrastructure and emergency services. Our city is poised for exponential growth and not planning properly will be detrimental to our overall success as a city. This all starts with good financial health. The financial health of Celina is currently in great shape. Celina just completed a 40 million dollar project upgrading our water facilities with bigger lines and a new water tower as well as a multimillion dollar update to our sewer plant. We just completed renovations to city owned buildings in downtown as well as opening Fire Station No. 2 and are in the process of designing a new police station. I am running for a position to continue development of Celina future and will work hard to keep the relationships we currently have to ensure a safe and commutable city.

What’s your history of involvement in the community?

My wife and I moved to Celina with our 3-month-old son in May of 2006. We instantly became involved in the planting and growth of Prestonwood North Campus in Prosper. Over the next 11 years my wife and I served Prestonwood by leading bible studies, Sunday school classes, student ministry leadership and was ordained as a Deacon. It was through serving our church that I discovered my love to serve people and our community. In 2010, I was appointed by Mayor Jim Lewis to sit on the Planning & Zoning Commission. Soon after I was asked to serve on our five-year Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee as the Planning & Zoning liaison to assist city staff in high level planning for our commercial, residential and industrial pockets throughout the city. In 2015, I was asked again to participate in reevaluating our Comprehensive Plan to better suit our growing city. In 2018, I was appointed as Chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission and am currently serving in that role. We joined First Baptist Church Celina in 2017 and in 2018 was asked to serve on the Building and Grounds Committee to plan for the churches expected growth. In February 2020, I was appointed by Celina ISD to an Advisory Committee to lead discussion, planning and implementation for a new Construction & Architecture Pathway for their Career & Technical Education program. We have three children in our public schools and volunteer at school sporting events and give to the Celina Education Foundation. We also have our businesses here. Our general construction office is downtown Celina, my wife runs a fitness bootcamp in town, Camp Gladiator, and we are also partners in one of Celina’s newest restaurants the Toasted Walnut Table & Market. Whether it’s serving the church, our city or our schools our family is intricately involved in our community. #livehere #workhere #servehere

How do you feel about the way the city is handling all the growth and development in recent years?

I feel the city is handling growth and development very well right now. We have a very qualified and knowledgeable staff that has experienced growth in other cities. They have taken what they have learned in past roles and been able to navigate through our challenges as a growing city. They have been able to stay ahead of the growth with improved infrastructure while being the fastest growing cities in Collin County.

Water rates continue to be an ongoing discussion. Do you think more should be done as far as mitigation or education, or is the city on the right track?

I think that the city has been taking a very proactive approach on educating the public on how water rates are structured. The city has organized a team of department heads to visit numerous citizens houses to educate them how our water rates are calculated and how much water they are actually using and, in many cases, overwatering. Water comes with a cost, and the main water supplier being Upper Trinity has increased, through inflation, 3 to 5 percent each year. The water and sewer fees the city collect must be strictly used for water and sewer related expenditures. With the amount of people we have moving in each year I think continuing to educate will play a very important part in getting the word out to the citizens.

Is the city spending money in the right places?

I feel like the city has been spending money in the right places. Fast growing cities like Celina will spend the bulk of the money on infrastructure and public safety. If you look at the budget, you will see this is being done. Infrastructure is a huge part of a growing city and with my background in construction I will be able to make sure those dollars are being spent wisely.

What would you change, if anything?

I can honestly say that I would not change anything right now. I am very pleased with city staff and council and the commitment they are making to the residents to keep Celina’s small town charm while embracing the expected growth. Listening to the citizens through public forums and surveys, live streaming events and weekly podcast. The city’s willingness to listen and implement thoughts and ideas while managing a growing city is difficult, but I think we are handling it very well.

Carmen Roberts

Celina City Council Place 4

Occupation: Real estate

Number of years in Celina: 21 years

What do you think is the most pressing issue in the city, and how would you address it?

Carmen Roberts

Carmen Roberts

The most pressing issue is preserving a strong deliberate plan for economic development, while preserving the history and heritage of Celina. It’s as simple as communicating to developers to keep elements of Celina history as a cornerstone in their subdivisions. I have had the unique opportunity to work with each of these developers coming to our City over the last three terms as Councilwoman, and have conveyed the standards that we expect. My desire is to continue with the vision of Celina through the leadership I’ve provided over the last nine years.

 

What’s your history of involvement in the community?

My history in involvement with our City goes back to 2010, when I was appointed to the Main Street Board. Those two years serving on the Main Street Board forged my love and appreciation for our Downtown Square, and the heritage we enjoy living in Celina. In 2011, I was elected to my first term as a City Councilwoman. I have been privileged to be reelected twice more to City Council. In 2012, I was appointed by the Council to serve on the Celina Economic Development Corporation, which I currently serve on today. These years of serving the citizens of Celina have reinforced the guiding goals and principles that I hold to represent you.

* Maintain the Heritage of Celina*

* Create Quality Standards for Building Construction*

* Lower Taxes through Economic Development*

*Make Sound Business Decisions with Integrity*

* Bring a Unique Women’s Perspective to City Government*

How do you feel about the way the city is handling all the growth and development in recent years?

The challenges of growth have been the focus of the Council and my time serving on the Council. It all starts with planning, and during my tenure the City Council has passed two Comprehensive Plans to lay out the vision and guide for Celina, with a lot of input from our citizens.  This past year we have approved our Downtown Master Plan and Parks and Open Space Master Plan. Each of these plans are helping us continue in maintaining the quality of life that our citizens expect from their City government.  I think our Council has struck the proper balance between private property rights and the public domain. I am proud of the job our City staff performs from a customer service perspective. The process is smooth and I hear compliments of our Staff at the many developer meetings that I attend. Therefore I am pleased at the results that the City has achieved in residential development and the commercial development that is coming that supports our growth.

Water rates continue to be an ongoing discussion. Do you think more should be done as far as mitigation or education, or is the city on the right track?

Water rates continue to be a challenge for all of us. This is a subject that is discussed at every Budget retreat which I have attended these last 9 years. Citizens need to know that the Water & Sewer fund is used for the cost of water delivered by the Upper Trinity Regional Water District, and the cost of treating affluent wastewater and the infrastructure it takes to deliver these services. It does not go to the General fund to pay for other projects or salaries. We have performed several rate studies during my tenure to make sure we are balancing our water/Sewer fund. We have enjoyed water security during my time in Celina. Just a few short years ago during the extended drought in Collin County, Celina did not have a day of water restrictions while our neighbors to the south lost most of their landscaping. Please consider that the infrastructure at UTRWD is at most 25 years old and our water rates are still paying for that debt service. Other systems in the County have infrastructure that is 60 years old and debt free but are now requiring upgrades that are starting to result in higher rates for those communities. Our City is always open to helping all our citizens with issues surrounding water. We have helped many homeowners that have reached out for assistance in analyzing their water usages and assisted where they can save on monthly bills.

Is the city spending money in the right places? 

The greatest responsibility being a City Councilwoman is the annual budget for the City. It is usually a 2 ½ month process which is open to the public for comment. I encourage citizens to join us in this effort. We hear the needs of our different departments to deliver customer service to our citizens. We then have the responsibility to determine those priorities, and the City Manager with his staff give us a document that goes through several readings and public meetings for citizen input. After this process I am asked as your representative to vote on the budget to run the city. I think the results in our City speak for themselves.

What would you change, if anything?

I want to share one last thought on financial matters. One of my stated goals has been is lower taxes through economic development. In Collin County because of our economic success, it has caused our appraisal values to increase 70-80% over the last 7 years. Though we have not raised tax rates in Celina, every home and business owner has seen significant increases in their property taxes. During this my last term, I am going to champion tax relief for our citizens of Celina. Our seniors need an additional exemption for 65 and older or disabled. I would like to see adding $10,000 to the current $30,000 exemption. It will not be easy, but we need to begin lowering our actual tax rate.  As the taxpayer champion, I will recommend an effective tax rate, which means that the taxpayer will pay no more in taxes than the previous year.  I will do all in my power to get my colleagues on the Council to join me in this effort.

It has been my privilege to serve you these last 9 years and I hope you will support me one last time to finish what we started.

Wendie Wigginton

Celina City Council, Place 4

Profession: Corporate attorney in aerospace

Number of years in the city: 6

What do you think is the most pressing issue in the city, and how would you address it?

Wendie Wigginton

Wendie Wigginton

As one of the fastest growing cities in North Texas, growth and ensuring that there is sufficient infrastructure to support it is the most pressing issue facing Celina. We must grow the city better as it grows bigger while maintaining the legacy small town feel that is Celina.  First, we would need to evaluate all utility (ie. Water/Sewer, Internet), resource, and development agreements to ensure we have negotiated the right infrastructure to stabilize in the long term.  I would evaluate our long term plans to make sure we have the right businesses and mix-use development profile to bring additional tax revenues into the city that won’t unduly burden our resources and make the lives of our citizens better.  New businesses create an additional job base, keep money in the community, supports local charities and events and creates a sense of home within the community. 

What’s your history of involvement in the community?

Since moving to Celina in 2014 I have been involved in a number of activities associated with our community. I am a registered volunteer at Grace Bridge, the VP of philanthropy for Young Men’s Service League which pairs mothers and their sons in serving the community, supported delivery of Meals on Wheels to our local community seniors, participated in school district events and committees, and worked with and have served on the Celina Elementary PTA board. 

How do you feel about the way the city is handling all the growth and development in recent years?

The goal in growth and development should always be to improve the life for current and future residents by investing in parks, roads, community centers and schools so that it continues to attract future residents and businesses alike. The city has been doing a great job to build the downtown area which is a critical element to bringing residents together and creating an environment that attracts tourists and other businesses to invest in the city. I would like to see the city find ways to incentivize more small businesses to bring them into fill out the downtown square to keep more residents shopping local resulting in increased tax revenue in the budget.  In addition, more focus needs to be paid on approving developments that not only incorporate the traditional small town feel that is Celina but also creates a cohesiveness between them. And the goal should be to manage the growth in a way that doesn’t overburden existing resources and infrastructure that promotes better living while putting families first.

Water rates continue to be an ongoing discussion. Do you think more should be done as far as mitigation or education, or is the city on the right track?

I think that the city needs to conduct an independent third-party audit. The last audit done in 2019 noted that the Sewer rate increases were based on the “direction of the FY 2018 rate study” the result of which is Celina is experiencing higher than normal sewer and water rates than surrounding cities.  In that same budget the outstanding bonds associated with Water/Sewer costs totaled some $80 million. Member of the community in many different forums continue to ask for more transparency in how the calculations are made and what is driving the increase. Some believe that the increases in areas such as sewer are associated with future requirement costs being passed to current residents. By completing an independent audit the current source of those rates should be clearly defined and then communicated in a town hall forum type format so as to allow both sides to understand and ask questions.

Is the city spending money in the right places? 

The city has spent time and money aimed at bringing residents together through Life Connected and events like Friday Night Markets and Movie Nights. These types of expenditures aimed at bringing the city together and creating a sense of “home” is the right approach.  I would like to see the city spend some additional monies on infrastructure specifically in development and maintenance of park areas, increase in recreational activities, and incentives aimed at bringing additional small businesses into the area.

What would you change, if anything?

I would make engagement in the process more accessible to residents and incorporate new and diverse voices into government committees that drive new ideas. I would look for ways to make it easier for citizens to submit ideas to the council for projects or issues that are important to them. I would find ways to get more information out to residents about issues that impact safety in the community. By making more information available to residents and letting them get involved it creates a better understanding of how they can be involved to effect change and that goes a long way to building trust.

Mindy Koehne

City Council Place No. 5

Profession:  Attorney

Number of years in the city:  25

What do you think is the most pressing issue in the city, and how would you address it?

Mindy Koehne

Mindy Koehne

The most pressing issue for Celina is controlling growth and ensuring that Celina keeps its small town feel and values.  Due to Celina’s proximity to Frisco, the toll road and Preston Road, growth is inevitable, but it can be done in a way that is purposeful and strategic and promotes the values that we hold dear – faith, family and tradition.  These are the common values that make me love this town and are the reason that I chose to raise my family in my hometown.  As a third generation Celina Bobcat, I wanted my kids to experience all that Celina has to offer.  My hope is that when it is time for my children to pick a forever home for their families, they will have loved Celina as much as I do, and I will have fifth generation Bobcats all around me! 

What’s your history of involvement in the community?

After moving back to Celina in 2013, I knew I wanted to be involved in the city, so I started volunteering my time. I joined the Celina Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors in 2014. In 2016, I started serving the residents of Celina on City Council, Place 5. I am active in the PTA, the First United Methodist Church in Celina as well as the CARE organization.

How do you feel about the way the city is handling all the growth and development in recent years?

In recent years, I believe that the city has handled the growth well, but that is not to say that there isn’t room for improvement. To gain insight into the citizens’ views on growth and development, amongst other topics, we initiated a Community Survey in 2018. Using these results, City Council, with input from a diverse group of Celina residents, created a strategic plan for the city. The growth of the city has to be purposeful and strategic, and this plan gives us a core foundation to prepare for this growth.

Water rates continue to be an ongoing discussion. Do you think more should be done as far as mitigation or education, or is the city on the right track?

I certainly believe that more can be done regarding mitigation and education. I have heard from numerous residents that their water bills have been incredibly high. Last year, we held a town hall style meeting to discuss the water issues, and at this meeting residents were able to request a city staff review of their systems. In many cases, the staff found that sprinklers were scheduled incorrectly, and in other cases, there were leaks in the system. This education provided immediate relief to these residents, and I believe that more should be done to ensure these preventable circumstances are mitigated. 

Is the city spending money in the right places? 

I believe that the city is spending money is the right places and that the spending is in alignment with the results of our community survey which is the foundation for the city’s Strategic Plan.  In a growing city, money should be first spent on ensuring the basic necessities of its citizens.  Investing in our Police and Fire and Emergency Management Services is our number one priority.  With that said, I am so very excited about our expansion at Old Celina Park.  It will double the size of the current park, offer more parking and provide lights to both the existing and new facilities.  The Celina Trails Master Plan has been recently completed, and we want to ensure that parks and trails are built as the community grows so the neighborhoods throughout the city can be connected.  Ample green spaces for families and youth is a top priority for the City.  Through our partnerships with Collin County and TXDOT, new highways are on the horizon as well, with the Choate Parkway expansion, Frontier expansion and Outer loop construction. 

What would you change, if anything?

As a child, I thought Celina would be small forever. After returning in 2013, I quickly learned that it was not the small town that I left all those years ago. What I also learned was that many of the changes, such as new activities, new friends and new businesses, are what make this the town I love today. Welcoming the newcomers and new families is really the Celina way and together we can make sure that our values are instilled in the town as it grows. For me, that’s faith, family and tradition. I will work to make sure that Celina is a place where hometown roots continue to run deep. 

Lanford Rodgers

Place 5

Profession: Insurance

Number of years in city: 3

What do you think is the most pressing issue in the city, and how would you address it?

Lanford Rodgers

Lanford Rodgers

In talking to Celina residents, the most pressing issue is the lack of transparency with city officials. I would bring to vote, a three term limit, to restrict the length of time a person can serve and to promote new ideas and restrict corruption. I would create a board composed of citizens, with the sole purpose of reviewing and bringing to vote to remove an official which has been deemed to have a conflict of interest. I would allow for removal of a person serving on multiple boards. I would limit board terms and or rotate depending on the participation. I will forbid a city council member or the mayor from being on any local boards while in office. Finally, look at the Economic Development Corporation and revamp it, and bring more viable business to Celina, in an effort to reduce and or control taxes.

What’s your history of involvement in the community?

I was on the Board of Adjustments and I stay involved with my neighborhood association.

How do you feel about the way the city is handling all the growth and development in recent years?

I don’t like the way the city is handling the growth or sharing the information with current and potential residents. I think the city just wants to build homes and not go out and attract business to offset taxes and the residents have to go to neighboring communities for most things. Water rates continue to be an ongoing discussion.

Do you think more should be done as far as mitigation or education, or is the city on the right track?

I think every home should have a water meter which is easily accessible and visible inside the home, this will allow a home owner to monitor a problem easier. Contractually, I don’t know how much more the city can do at this time.

Is the city spending money in the right places?

I and other residents that I have spoken to, don’t know, which is the problem.

What would you change, if anything?

Term limits, restrict overlapping of boards and current city officials from serving on boards. Have a citizen board to bring to a vote conflict of interest issue(s). Have a discussion with the powers to be in Austin about the high water rates and how captive by the water districts. Revamp the EDC and maybe some more positions and get people that are result driven, to make Celina a place people and businesses want to move to and stay. Look at the PID’s and what can be done if anything to pay down the bond and get rid of PID’s, which are favorable to the developers and builders, not the residents that have to carry the burden for years to come.

  

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