Election Day is May 7th, and on the ballot are candidates running for mayor. Also on the ballot are two proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution.
Early voting runs through May 3, and Election Day is May 7. Primary runoffs are May 24.
Community members can access specific voting information including times, dates and locations through their respective county websites.
What is the most important issue in your city and how would you solve it?
To increase economic development through expanded public relations and social media and to further expand the responsibilities of Chamber of Commerce.
One of the most important issues, out of the many, is the need to negotiate a better contract with the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD). Residents are paying a premium for water that we, as a whole community, do not use. Per the existing take-or-pay contract, Rowlett must continually purchase 3.2 billion gallons of water, the highest use amount from 2011, when we currently only utilize just over 2 billion gallons of water annually. This has a significantly negative impact on water rates.
Additionally, the water district has indicated that they are considering increasing the “customer city” premium from 5 cents per 1,000 gallons to 30 cents per 1,000 gallons. That would bring our current premium cost from over $100,000 to nearly $1 million annually. It will take a coordinated and strategic effort from the new mayor and council to negotiate a fair and equitable deal with the water district, and to be prepared to protest the proposed contract with the State Public Utilities Commission.
One of the most current issues is the overreach of power, intimidation and harsh work environment with a presiding judge and our Rowlett Police Force. Although Pamila Liston has now resigned she leaves behind a wake of grievances and unanswered questions. I will get with all personnel that filed grievances and finally hear their side of the story since not one has ever been interviewed. I will also want to ask Pam Liston the same thing to get a better understanding of why this has been going on so long with no conclusion.
I will request an outside investigation regardless if I am elected or not.
How do you think the city should be addressing public safety?
By first addressing the hiring of the new police chief and discussing the financial compensation of our current first responders.
After first being elected to the City Council in mid-2017, I soon realized how depleted our police and fire departments were of needed personnel, equipment and market-competitive salaries. It was shocking to me how our previous elected officials could allow our police department to have minimum staffing of only six officers per shift patrolling and responding to calls in a community of 67,000 residents. Our fire department was utilizing old, beat-up equipment, and they hadn’t seen a personnel increase since 10 or more years prior to 2017, even though population increased almost two-fold since that time. After realizing this, public safety investment became a top-priority of mine. It is a duty of and expectation that your local government has the necessary personnel and equipment to manage and respond to emergencies when they occur.
In the five years of serving on the City Council, a total of 27 new firefighters and 16 new police officers have been hired. Due to the increase in personnel, an additional ambulance was placed into service and additional positions have been added to each police shift. Additionally, significant investment has been made into purchasing new equipment and tools for police and fire. We are in a much better spot today than we were five years ago, but there is still a lot more catch up that needs to take place in the police department. One program I would like to see implemented is a “Major Crimes Unit”. A Major Crimes Unit would start off consisting of around eight officers focused on investigating and responding to major crimes, including; gang activity, robberies, shootings, homicides and other major felonious activities. The Major Crimes Unit will help our police department be more proactive by getting violent criminals out of our community and allow our patrol officers to stay focused on community policing.
We need more funding to give all first responders a raise and allow for more officers on patrol. Our PD is our citizens' protection and guardians.
What are your ideas in addressing traffic in the city and the region?
One option would be to address and correct the use of our public road thorough fares to reduce large truck access and as always and increase spending.
As the region continues to grow at a rapid pace, the more challenging it becomes for traffic control and roadway infrastructure. I am not personally against multi-family, however, I am for sustainable growth. The fact is, Rowlett has and continues to struggle operationally due to the rapidly increasing population, mostly as a result of the rapid increase of multi-family developments. In 2012, the Rowlett City Council approved the implementation of the “Form-Based Code” and “Realize Rowlett 2020” Comprehensive Plan. Simultaneously, Special-Use Permit requirements for multi-family developments were eliminated. These actions combined paved the way for the rapid development of multi-family developments across the city. In fact, the growth of multi-family outperformed expectations realized in the 2012 comprehensive plan, which projected that by 2030, Rowlett would have around 75,000 residents.
It is 2022, and according to latest estimates by NCTCOG, we have 73,000+ residents today. The rapid increase in population has overwhelmed existing infrastructure and City resources from police, fire, public works, parks & recreation, etc… This is why I spear-headed the effort to re-instate the requirement of Special-Use Permits (SUP) for all additional multi-family development applications. SUP’s will force multi-family developers to seek approval or denial of their proposed project from the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council.
How else can we address traffic in the city? Continue to invest significant dollars to infrastructure improvements, such as the widening of existing roads, adding traffic signals in certain areas, and plan better (operationally) for the future.
Our infrastructure is holding on by a thread. We are growing way too fast and just accepted a large industrial development in Rowlett. With no policing of truckers paths we are looking at higher traffic volumes coming soon. I would like to see laws passed that prohibit eighteen wheelers driving through Rowlett.
Where do you feel the city should focus development efforts?
Commercial and Entertainment
I believe the City should focus it’s development efforts on attracting more business and jobs to help offset the residential tax burden that Rowlett currently relies on to fund services. Partnering with brokerage firms and landowners of commercial land to target certain businesses should be a key priority of the Economic Development Department.
I feel we need to take a step back and stick to the Comprehensive Plan. The current council seems to be developer friendly and is allowing deviation from city codes. I would like to see our council not jump at the first offer moving forward.
Is the city spending money in the right places? Is there anything you would change?
In my opinion the city is balancing our efficiently – we need to increase commerce in order raise the necessary funds in which to address the areas that we need the most work on.
One area where I believe the City Council should re-evaluate is re-allocating all or a portion of the liquor sales tax away from economic development to either public safety operations, increase roadway maintenance funds, or fully fund the Animal Shelter so that we aren’t having to ask residents for donations of food and other items, not that their generosity isn’t greatly appreciated.
I feel DART and Waterview Golf Club are over compensated. I would like to see most of these funds used on infrastructure or funding more officers or officer raises.
What's your history of community involvement in the city/area?
I am the Founder and President of Life Message and the Veterans Resource and Outreach Center for the past 24 years and I have served on multiple Boards and Commissions such as the Economic Development Advisory Board, the Rowlett Chamber of Commerce, the Garland ISD Education Foundation and the Board of Adjustments. I also serve on the Community Organizations Active in Disasters Board and the Heroes Bridge Memorial Park Foundation.
I was raised in Rowlett and first became interested in local government when I was six years old. It was at this age when I noticed signs around town saying there would be a town hall meeting with the council. I decided to attend the meeting and ask the council why the field next to my home wasn’t a developed park yet, even though the sign in the field said it would be.
I didn’t understand what the term recession meant at the time, but that was the answer I was given. After leaving this town hall meeting, I knew that I wanted to be more involved.
At 14 years old, I began to monitor the police and fire scanner to stay informed on what was going on around town. I figured that I would create social media accounts to share important information with the public regarding major emergency events. These accounts rose to nearly 40,000 followers and worked to keep the citizens informed.
At 15 years old, I was approached by the Rowlett Parks & Recreation Advisory board chairman to see if I would join the board as a jr alternate member. I served on the parks board for several years until I decided to run for and begin serving as your Councilmember.
Having the opportunity to serve you on the City Council has allowed me to accomplish policy and service initiatives that benefit Rowlett and its future.
As a member of the City Council, I have been appointed to the following committees and boards:
Chair of the Ethics Sub-Committee
Member of the Finance & Audit Committee
Member of the Code & Environmental Review Committee
Member of the Court Governance Committee
Member of the Garland ISD Cities Coalition
Member of the North Texas Commission Cities Coalition
Member of the Rowlett Business Stimulus (ROBUST) Committee
Council Liaison to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board
Council Liaison to the Youth Advisory Council
Council Liaison to the Texas Municipal League
Past Council Liaison and Member of the 2018 Strategic Planning Committee
Co-Founding Member of the Rowlett Community Organizations Active in Disaster (RCOAD) organization
Member of the Rowlett Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT)
Member of the Rowlett Fire Corps
Leadership Rowlett Alumni
Citizens City Academy Class 2 Alumni
Citizens Police Academy Alumni
I am considered an activist by some. Using my platform, I push City Council information out to my followers that cannot make it to city council meetings – expose and educate if you will. When I see issues, I tend to jump right in to try to make a positive difference. Some say I need more involvement, and some say we need outsiders that love our country and city to step up, and that is what I am doing.
Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I have over 30 years of working with and serving our community, I have over 20 years of business leadership and 24 years running a charity committed to our veterans and first responders. I represent the core values of Honesty, Integrity and Hard Work and believe in the Vision of our City.
I believe that I am the best candidate for Mayor because I have the leadership skills and the right experience to move Rowlett forward to being more transparent and proactive.
It’s time for bold, new leadership, and I am looking forward to being able to bring about the positive changes our city needs and deserves.
I am not a politician, and I do not have relationships to tarnish by making tough decisions. I want to make sure our council is representing our citizens at all times and not just when it’s convenient. I have seen a lack of real transparency and would like to earn back the trust of our citizens. Like me or not, there will be a shift in a different direction. If I make new relationship, it will be because of earned respect. Citizens will always be first.
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