Today, we interview Mr. Leroy Vaughn, one of the five candidates for the special election to fill Lewisville City Council's at-large place 3 seat vacated by Mike Nowels.
Mr. Vaughn is 60 years old and has lived in Texas for 14 years. He is currently retired from his career as a firefighter and building inspector. He holds a Masters degree in Public Affairs and a Bachelors of Art in Political Science
Mr. Vaughn lists the following as his experience in public and volunteer service:
- Leadership Lewisville (1995)
- City of Lewisville (1994-2000)
- Community Development Block Grant Committee (Vice Chair)
- Industrial Waste Hearing Board Chair (two term Chair)
- Lake Lewisville Safety Committee (Vice Chair)
- Lewisville 2010 Goals Committee
- Habitat for Humanity, Lewisville, Project volunteer (1995-2000)
- African American Museum, Dallas, Docent (1995-2000)
- Christian Community Action (CCA), Lewisville, volunteer (1995-2000)
- City of Austin, Zoning Board of Adjustment member (2001-2003)
- ACLU, Austin, Legal Panel member, (2002)
- Lewisville Senior Center Board of Advisors (2005-present)
- Christian Community Action (CCA), Lewisville, volunteer (2006-present)
- End Stage Renal Disease, Dallas (2006)
- National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Dallas (1998-2000) & (2006-Present)
Mr. Vaughn's Platform:
- Transportation Issues
- Economic Development & jobs creation
- Environmental Concerns - adequate water & air pollution
WhosPlayin: Mr. Vaughn, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. The city lists your occupation as "retired". Yet when I spoke with you by phone the other day, you mentioned that you stay pretty busy volunteering. What is the force that drives you to work so much in your community?
Leroy Vaughn: I believe that large changes are the result of individual actions by small groups. Basically when all is said and done I want to feel like I made a difference in the lives of some, and in the Lewisville Community as a whole.
WhosPlayin: You have a Masters degree in Public Affairs. If I remember correctly, you said you had your Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. I would think with such credentials that you might be running for Congress. Why Lewisville City Council?
Leroy Vaughn: I have a BA from The University of North Texas in political science, with a minor in business. In 2006 I received a Masters degree from the LBJ School at University of Texas, Austin in public affairs. As I stated previously it is my intent to have an impact on my community. The best way I know to do this is through the Lewisville City Council.
WhosPlayin: You spent almost twenty years as a firefighter, and also a few years as a building inspector. Do you think that your years of working "in the trenches" as it were, as a city employee (in Davis, CA) gives you an advantage in perspective in dealing with city staff?
Leroy Vaughn: I was a firefighter in the City of Davis, California for approximately 20 years. During that time, when the city was in a financial crisis, I was farmed out to the building inspection department for four years. After formal schooling I was assigned in the field as one of the firefighter/city building inspectors, that carried his fire gear with him, was in radio contact with the fire dispatcher and responded to emergencies from wherever my current location happen to be. Yes, I feel I have a distinct advantage of perspective in dealing with city staff. Having worked both sides of the counter "so to speak" is certainly an advantage, and this advantage has only been enhanced through my volunteer activities and their relationship to city staff.
WhosPlayin: What do you consider to be the most serious issues facing the City of Lewisville, and what is your approach in dealing with them?
Leroy Vaughn: I consider an increased revenue stream to the city to be very important. It is my opinion that the city generates a major portion of its revenue from the service industry. I would like to see greater efforts to attract higher revenue producing industries such as the medical/pharma industry, or technology.
Drug use is getting more news cover daily. It seems that more young people are able to obtain seriously dangerous drugs at bargain basement prices. As I see it the problem would best be addressed by a multi-jurisdictional approach, with data shared among agencies.
The I-35 corridor is a major issue that will not only affect Lewisville economically; it will impact transportation through the city for some time to come. Local governments working in conjunction with TxDOT, state officials, business leaders and the concerned public should meet frequently to lessen the negative aspects of developing such a corridor.
The city should continue the negotiations to annex Castle Hills into the City of Lewisville.
Public transportation is a concern to the citizens of Lewisville, especially to our growing senior population. I am currently in talks with DCTA to expand their existing Lewisville routes. I am sure as this process goes forward more of the general population will be given additional opportunities for their input.
WhosPlayin: Regarding drug use, we hear more and more about methamphetamine labs, and heroin or ecstasy use among suburban teens. Do you think that with the limited resources that our police forces have, that it might be a good idea to re-focus our efforts so that we go after the distributors of these more dangerous substances, and focus less on catching and prosecuting people for possession of small quantities of marijuana?
Leroy Vaughn: Mr. Southwell I have always felt that the current drug laws are not conducive to halting the distribution of dangerous drugs. We spend millions of dollars prosecuting and housing street level criminals for minor quantities of drugs, with little or no regard for the major importers of these drugs. And when a major supplier is caught nine times out of ten a deal will be cut where in some cases the individual receives a more lenient sentence than the person dealing "$5 bags" on the corner. In my opinion marijuana is not nearly the hazard to our community as the more dangerous drugs that are out there. Those resources could certainly be redirected to a more beneficial end.
WhosPlayin: You said you would continue to negotiate to annex Castle Hills. I can see what's in it for the city, in terms of gaining the tax revenue, and getting paid for the services that some of the residents of Castle Hills might already be using within the City of Lewisville. What do you think would be the benefit to the people of Castle Hills?
Leroy Vaughn: It is my understanding that the residents of Castle Hills currently pay some of the highest taxes in the area. They also contract with different utilities for services (some private and some currently from Lewisville). As part of Lewisville I see the benefit in the numbers. I see their tax structure coming more in line with the City of Lewisville's, and as far a services provided I strongly believe that the greater the quantity purchased the lower the price paid.
WhosPlayin: Do you feel that the average Lewisville citizen is aware of these issues? What do you think matters most to them?
Leroy Vaughn: Mr. Southwell I feel the citizens of Lewisville are greatly aware of those issues that immediately impact their daily lives. I believe the citizens of Lewisville are mainly concerned about the safety of their families and the overall quality of life in their community.
WhosPlayin: What will you be doing to get your message out to the voters? Will you have a website? Are you going to be walking the neighborhoods?
Leroy Vaughn: I will be actively campaigning. Because of my lack of name recognition I feel I must make an extraordinary effort in this area. I intend to have a web site. It is not up at this point. I will have yard signs, flyers, banners and signs in businesses where appropriate. Also I will have, I am not sure what they are called now days, earlier they were Campaign Buttons.
WhosPlayin: Lewisville, and really the entire North Texas area suffer from very poor air quality for too many days each year. Dallas Mayor, Laura Miller, and a coalition of various North Texas cities have taken pro-active measures to oppose the construction of new coal-fired power plants. Lewisville has not joined this coalition. If you had your way, is there anything that the city would do to improve air quality?
Leroy Vaughn: This serious issue is a local as well as a national problem. I do not know the city's position on air pollution or what is being done at this time. I do feel strongly enough about this issue that everything that can reasonably be done should be. I feel the city should take a proactive position with the state and federal agencies that monitor and direct air quality policy in North Central Texas. In the mean time the city should vigorously enforce the laws on the books that pertain to air quality, and support mass transit efforts.
WhosPlayin: Do you support the use of toll roads as a method of gaining revenue to build new roads?
Leroy Vaughn: Toll roads are a mixed bag for me. I understand why a municipality would be in favor of such a road. I.e. -the money that generated up front, roads are built sooner, maintenance costs are reduced, etc. However, I disagree with the policy of turning the operations of a toll road over to a foreign country. Also they are still receiving a portion of the revenues generated long after the road has been paid for. Additionally, toll roads require much more land to be built than traditional roadways. Finally, I believe it is better for those that wish to pay the toll to pay than to increase the gasoline tax on all citizens.
WhosPlayin: What is your view of the proper role of city government, and is the Lewisville City Council getting it right? In other words, where would you do more, and what do you think the city council should avoid?
Leroy Vaughn: I believe that the role of city government is to support the values of the Constitution. City government should also concern itself with the safety, health, and the general well-being of its citizenry through its enforcement of its regulations, codes and ordinances. It is my opinion that Lewisville City Council is doing a good job in meeting its responsibilities to its citizens. I would focus on the 2010 Goals Committee Report. This is the document that contains the accumulation of all the findings of the Goals Committee regarding the citizens of Lewisville's wants, needs, and desires. I believe it is very important, and necessary for the Lewisville City Council continued success, that the council refrains from emitting the appearance of preferential treatment for one group or business over another.
WhosPlayin: As a graduate of Leadership Lewisville, you must have gotten to see quite a bit of the workings of our city, both from the governmental perspective, and the non-profit community organization perspective. In your opinion, are we covering the needs, or is there room for either government or charity or both to step up and take on more responsibility?
Leroy Vaughn: I believe Leadership Lewisville presents an excellent opportunity for an individual to get a first hand look into local governments, and insight into the needs and operations of non-profits and businesses conducting business within the city. It is my opinion that there is always more that can be done; however, I am unaware of any issue that is not being addressed on some level, at this time.
WhosPlayin: If you were elected, how would you stay on top of the issues and keep in touch with the citizens to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks?
Leroy Vaughn: Mr. Southwell I am retired and if I were elected to the Lewisville City Council it would be my only job. I currently volunteer throughout the city on a daily basis and am out and about in the community mixing with its citizens routinely. As I stated earlier I am currently in discussions with DCTA on the matter of extending service on some routes in Lewisville. This is a matter brought to my attention by a few ladies of the community on my daily travels. By not having other obligations I will be available more often for face to face discussion of any issue a citizen may be concerned about. The only addition I would make at this time would be an internet site to expand the lines of communication.
WhosPlayin: Mr. Vaughn, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us, and thank you for your service to the city and the community.
Leroy Vaughn: Mr. Southwell I would also like to thank you for your contribution to the furtherance of information on local issues, and the opportunity to express my view in a public forum.
WhosPlayin has already interviewed Ron Aljoe and Patrick Booth, and has extended interview invitations to the other candidates: Lathan Watts and Jim Mundt. Lathan Watts politely declined the interview due to our treatment of Congressman Michael Burgess. Mr. Mundt declined due to the general partisan nature of this website.
It should be noted that WhosPlayin is non-partisan in the Lewisville municipals, although the other major forum for the candidates to make their views known will be hosted by the Republican Mens' Club. WhosPlayin will probably not endorse any candidates, but may conduct a straw poll.
Regardless, I would highly encourage our readers to check their voter registrations, and get out and make an informed vote on May 12th. Show your city's leaders that you care by turning out in good numbers! Polling locations will be posted very soon.