The Lewisville Texan Journal presents our endorsements in the 2012 Lewisville mayoral and city council election. Early voting starts Monday, April 30th, and continues through May 8th. Election day is Saturday, May 12th. Polling locations and ballot information can be found here.
Lewisville Mayor: Dean UeckertWe recommend a vote to re-elect Dean Ueckert. Ueckert has demonstrated solid leadership in the past three years, and been a tireless advocate for Lewisville. Even though Lewisville's charter says that the Mayor presides at meetings of the City Council, but does not vote except in the case of a tie, it would be foolish to think that the Mayor was a powerless figurehead.
On the contrary, Ueckert has led the Council well - not just by running an efficient meeting and making the occasional tie-breaking vote - but through his input on the agendas, his initiative, and his role in discussions. One example of his leadership was in getting the Council to approve once-a-week recycling pickup. If you attend a City Council workshop, retreat, or budget session, it is quickly apparent how much Ueckert contributes to the discussion via his thoughtful questions of city staff, and his vast knowledge of city history that comes from his many years of experience on the Council, and the city's boards and committees. Ueckert's recommendations carry a lot of weight with the Council.
And although a mayor cannot bind the Council, his participation in discussions with companies considering a move to Lewisville can be instrumental. Ueckert has put in a lot of time on this, and real jobs have been created here. Real economic development has occurred, and great things have happened in Lewisville in the past few years, some of which had their roots in actions Ueckert took while on Council.
Ueckert's opponent this year, just as in 2009 is Winston Edmondson, a likeable guy who is both intelligent and creative, but we think inexperienced and not well grounded or proven. Rather than put in the time and effort to volunteer for the city, serve on boards, or run for City Council, Edmondson shot straight for the top. Before his first run for Mayor, Edmondson had not even voted, and was not registered to vote, in a City Council election. In 2009, after his defeat for mayor, Edmondson did submit an application to serve on boards (Old Town Design, P&Z, and CDBG), but it was too late for the May appointment process.
Nevertheless, one need not be seated on a board or commission to show interest and dedication. I don't recall seeing Edmondson at City Council workshops or retreats, which would have been a great way to stay up to date, and gain a deeper understanding of City issues. To his credit, Edmondson has served with me on a couple of LISD committees since then, and I think he has made valuable contributions there.
Edmondson did make a huge mistake though, in throwing Lewisville schools under the bus. Edmondson claimed on Facebook that he had bought a house in Flower Mound so that he could send his children there. His reason related to his children speaking English - as opposed to the large Spanish-speaking population at Hedrick, where his kids were zoned. Later, Edmondson admitted that wasn't exactly true, and that he and his wife were separated, and the kids were with her. Edmondson has called Spanish-speakers "second class citizens" and proposed that the ill-conceived and purely symbolic English-Only ordinance defeated a few years ago be brought back for another vote.
Ueckert, even though he considers himself a conservative and votes Republican, is committed to keeping ideological battles from distracting city government from doing its real job. Ueckert is a leader who can call on his own experience, but also takes the time to listen to citizens concerns. Most of all, his guiding principle seems to be whether or not something is good for the city, not whether it meets some ideological purity test.
Again, as we did in 2009, we recommend Dean Ueckert enthusiastically, and hope that you will vote for his re-election.
Lewisville City Council, Place 2: Neil FergusonWe recommend a vote to re-elect Councilman Neil Ferguson. Over the years, Ferguson has proven himself in his various capacities as a volunteer or board member, both with local non-profits, and with the City of Lewisville.
Semi-retired, Ferguson takes the time to not only fully read the backup material provided with the Council agendas, but to go out and do his own research on the topics of concern to our City. It is not uncommon for those who know Ferguson to get emails at 2 or 3 a.m. with links to some article or resource that he found.
Ferguson is one of the few who realize the importance of the city's water supply, so he has devoted a big part of his relatively short time on Council to looking at ways to improve conservation, which will extend the adequacy of the City's current supply. Ferguson understands that peak usage costs the city more, and takes more capital to deliver, so he has proposed looking at adjusting the rate structure so that those who make up this more expensive peak usage pay the true cost instead of being subsidized by the frugal.
Ferguson is also one of those who fully understands that the actions of government affect the pocketbook in more ways than just taxes. When a gas drilling company wanted to drill wells in the highly residential areas near Central Park and Memorial Park, he opposed the location, which would sapped the property values of the nearby homeowners and permanently removed prime residential real estate from being used for that purpose. But that's not to say that he is ideologically opposed to oil and gas activity. Retired from the petroleum industry himself, Ferguson served on the City's oil and gas stakeholder committee (with me) where he fought for sensible regulation that would allow for gas development in locations with less impact.
In his first City Council retreat as a Councilman, Ferguson was instrumental in leading the effort to complete capital improvements approved by the voters in 2003. Realizing that the timing was right due to record low interest rates, low construction cost, and a rebound in property values, Ferguson got the Council to agree to do $10 million in street improvements, and a public safety training facility.
Ferguson's opponent again as in December of last year, is Steve Hill. Hill seems to be a nice enough guy who means well, but not only fails to understand city government and finance, but fails to recognize what he doesn't know. Time and again, in his three runs for Council, and the meetings he attended before he ran, Hill has brought partisan, ideological talking points instead of fact-based solutions.
Hill barely voted before his first run for Council, having only been recently awakened politically by the Tea Party movement. Now he touts his bona fides as a Republican precinct chair as if that counts for any experience in municipal affairs. The problem is not that Hill is conservative; it's that he fails to differentiate between the issues that divide us at the state and federal levels of government, and the issues that can unite and enrich us at the local level. The divisive rhetoric and no-compromise, winner-take-all mentalities that have brought ruin to the effectiveness of our state and federal governments have not yet managed to pervade at the local level, and we are better for it.
Despite the fact that Lewisville ranks near the bottom in property taxes and debt, Hill has transferred arguments about debt and spending into Lewisville city government without justification based on facts. Hill has said we are "drowning in debt" despite solid evidence that our debt is used responsibly and quickly amortized, and that our debt is lower than most of the surrounding cities. Even after having his numbers for the amount of debt proven inaccurate, he continues to stand behind his faulty accounting.
Ferguson realizes that in order for Lewisville's infrastructure and public works to keep up with our growth, we must do what every other city in America does, and sell bonds to pay for the justified projects that will improve our property values and quality of life. By responsibly using bonds, we don't allow our city to deteriorate while saving up, and we ensure that the residents who move in later and benefit from the assets are also paying for them.
Most of all, Ferguson approaches city government from a non-partisan, fact-based, pragmatic perspective. He realizes that issues can be complicated, and that when factors change, today's "yes" can be tomorrow's "no".
Voters late last year resoundingly said that they trusted Neil Ferguson to serve us on City Council. We agree, and hope that you will vote to allow him to serve a full term and lead our city onward.