Roads, Respect, and Grass Roots!
Recently someone asked me why I was seeking this seat on the City Council in Dallas on May 6, 2017, in the seventh largest city in the nation. I answered without a blink:
“Because I started paying attention. And then I got frustrated.” – Candy Evans
I was in New York City right after Thanksgiving, 2016, and the two largest mouthpieces in the world — the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal — were basically trashing Dallas. Everyone was talking about our police and fire pension problems, using the “b” word (bankruptcy!), putting us in the same league as Detroit.
Things have not been going so well in our city and in my District 11. In fact, over the last four years, they have gotten worse.
Incumbent Lee M. Kleinman supported what I believe is a fiscal giveaway of Fair Park, a near billion-dollar plan that would squander the potential we have for real estate development and private sector job growth in southeast Dallas.
There was his proposal to kill the Dallas Film Commission, citing a “waste” of a measly $200,000 a year grant that results in about $475,000 in tax revenue and terrifically measurable branding for the city. Remember a little show called Dallas? He jumped right in and paid Costco $3 million in economic incentives when they were planning to build a warehouse store in Dallas anyhow, money or not.
My opponent works hard for the ‘burbs: The Cotton Belt
He has been working hard for the suburbs. He supports the Cotton Belt Corridor commuter rail alignment as a priority over a much-needed subway line reliever route in downtown Dallas. The Cotton Belt project will be a lot more beneficial to our northern neighbors, not us.
Crime has been on the rise in Dallas and in my district, and I don’t see it getting any better with record low police morale and a billion-dollar shortfall for their Police and Fire Pension fund. As of May, 2017, we are down to 3,252 officers, well below the target of 3,500. And then there’s public safety: with Dallas’ growing population, our first responders are getting 5% more EMS calls each year BUT not the budget or personnel to handle them. Recruitment and retention of public safety officers is pretty grim.
We get less for our money: property taxes are going up, city services are going down.
Don’t let him fool you into thinking he lowered property taxes. While the entire Dallas City Council did pass a minute decrease in taxes — like two cents — our values are way up, meaning we are paying more property taxes. And we obsess over grand scale projects — bridges, Fair Park, when all we really need is to fix the damn streets.
All of this was supposed to get better come May. The rotting streets, parks, and other infrastructure (like drainage, to prevent flooding), failing traffic signals that don’t work when it rains, crumbling buildings, were all going to finally get fixed.
Lee Kleinman voted to postpone the bond election, kicking the can down the road. Even worse, he acted without an iota of input from the folks in our district, District 11, his constituents.
On one of the most important issues to Dallas voters, street repair, what does Lee Kleinman do? He cancels not one but TWO scheduled meetings on the bond.
Does he even know what the people he represents want? Does he care?
I am running for his seat because I want to inspire a culture at Dallas City Hall that puts us, the taxpayers, first. Rather than turn our back on our police, we need a positive working relationship: listen, compromise, don’t bully. We need oversight and accountability in city government at every level, to use every tax dollar efficiently for the best return on taxpayer investment. We need to be available and accessible to the people we represent, communicating with district residents regularly through modern channels, not a list of haters (see screenshot below).
Join me in bringing a respectful, transparent vision to our great city, a city that can truly have it all. Let’s dig into the issues and find solutions, together.
Here is where I stand, as of May, 2017:
Resolve the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Crisis
The “clawback proposal” my opponent advocates is illegal and would likely create years of costly litigation. We can adopt the Flynn plan and fill the funding gap without raising taxes. City mismanagement has left us with 2.5 police officers per 1000 population, heading downward. The optimum is 3/1000. We are facing a SERIOUS shortfall of police protection and EMS services. Officers are flocking to Fort Worth and Plano, where they get higher starting salaries.
No new taxes or lowering of taxes for homeowners, which may be coming from Austin with SB2.
SB2 is a bill drafted by Houston Senator Paul Betencourt who feels the pain of homeowners in Texas burdened by property taxes. His bill aims to change the threshold for how much property tax revenues cities and counties can collect without voter approval. The current threshold is 10%: if your home’s value goes up by more than 10%, you can do something about it. SB2 wants to pull that 10% back to 5%. Cities and elected officials, even real estate agents, say SB 2 will hamstring their ability to provide necessary services and afford enough responders. But I, for one,am tired of paying more for these phantom increased values:
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said he authored the upper chamber’s version of the bill because Texans are clamoring for an end to fast-rising property tax bills.”
One reason for increased property tax bills is increasing property values. That allows a Texans’ tax bill to go up even when local government entities maintain or lower their tax rates. That is confusing as hell when you hear from local leaders that tax rates are flat or going down.
My opponent has said that he has lowered ur taxes on many occasions, a flat out lie.
Property taxes in Texas are among the highest in the nation! And he has voted for some of the most wasteful items on the Dallas City Council agenda, including a white water rapids in the Trinity River that is costing the city millions to undo.
More Bang For Your Buck
I also want to see better results from our tax dollars through city services. My opponent’s support of a minute property tax decrease was offset by the increase in our property values: we are paying more, getting less. Word is he wants to end bulk trash pickup, too. No way.
Streets and Infrastructure
Our failure to have a May bond package has doomed 100 miles of city streets to total reconstruction rather than repair, and will cost us more to fix.
Additionally, No Trinity Tollroad. Make it a park. Focus on improving infrastructure and quality of life issues over glitzy boondoggles that cost us more to maintain.
Protect Property Values
I believe we can protect our property values by enhancing security in our neighborhoods and commercial centers
Promoting SMART development in District 11 while protecting the safety, peace and tranquility of our neighborhoods. We have an economic jewel in our midst, Midtown.
Work with other City Council members to create more uniform economic development in Dallas south of the Trinity so we do not continually shoulder the tax burden of this city. My opponent paid Costco $3 million when they would have come to our District anyway.
He voted to give a Chicago ad agency a big break to move to Dallas and office in Uptown, at the new Olive & McKinney.
Doors follow safety. Join me in making District 11 one of the safest in town!