Why are you running for this position? What are the three main attributes that make you the most qualified for this position?
Over the last several years Shenandoah has become known as "Simply Shenandoah," but Shenandoah has never been known as"Simply." We've been known as the "Safest little city in Texas," "The Richest little city in Texas," and to try and change that to be "Simple" -it just doesn't fit. Over the last several years we've moved into more city government and have "Simply" moved away from resident representation. We've moved into more government control and city ordinances, and "Simply" away from civic virtue and community values. We've moved into creating more planning committees and "Simply" moved away from oversight and accountability. We've moved into more "transparent" government spending and "Simply" away from a commonsense approach to fiscal responsibility. This why I've chosen to run for “A Better Shenandoah.” -Better Fiscal Responsibility, -Better City Management, and -Better Oversight and Accountability.
As the city’s population, business development and municipal services have increased markedly, the need for better fiscal services have become more pronounced. Our residents need better representation through a commonsense approach to fiscal responsibility by its elected leaders. Here’s just one example: Many residents have expressed concerns about the city spending over $350,000 on neighborhood entrance signs. Yet the current council is considering a 10% increase in residential water rates, and adding an additional $2.4 million in debt to fund a new water plant. It just doesn't’t make “cents”. We need to lower costs to our residents not increase them. I have specific plans on how to accomplish this for our community. Its time to move away from "Simply" being transparent in our government spending and become A Better fiscally sound Shenandoah.
I believe leadership is everything! You show me a successful business, church, club, city or high school sports team and you'll find a leader behind the scenes. A better Shenandoah needs strong, visionary, problem solving, values based leadership that's not part of the good ole boys club. Unfortunately, current city council is mired in the past and the way things have always been done. Shenandoah has some serious issues in our current administration. We lost 26% of our city employees last year, yet current council voted 3-2 to give our city administrator a $12,000 bonus for a job well done. In addition, council voted last year to give complete authority to the city administrator, and in the process relinquished their ability to communicate with city employees regarding city business. Checks and balances is the best form of governing, but if you can't speak to the city staff how do you know what is truly going on in the city. We need to "Simply" restructure our city administration to restore " A Better" city management.
Shenandoah needs leadership with clear eyes, a full heart and a no non-sense approach to review the governing process. I’m not afraid of a 3-2 votes because it focuses discussion and answers questions. The current city council leaves to many unanswered questions in chambers. Before we spend taxpayer dollars, we need to reduce our debt, eliminate frivolous spending, waste, and unnecessary capital improvements. Our city budget will obviously increase to accommodate its growth. However, moving forward Councilmen need to work with the M.D.D. on development and improvement projects (such as the $2.4 million water plant) to eliminate this type of funding from the general budget. This will free up funds for the benefit of our residents and businesses like investing in our police department and paying down debt or lowering taxes. We need good leadership that can develop a culture of oversight and accountability, and a code of ethics to guide our city.
I've been a Shenandoah neighbor for 4 years and have been a business owner for 30 years. I have successfully managed multi-million dollar business operations, budgets, and personnel in multiple office locations in seven different states. I am a strong passionate leader that understands people, processes, and what it takes to produce results. I'm experienced in start up operations, regulatory compliance, selecting, hiring, and training qualified personnel, developing collateral support and innovative resources. I understand the importance of budgets, accountability, and have the experience in turning failing organizations around into thriving, profitable ones. I am committed to bring this same business acumen, leadership, and common sense management style to the community to help solve the city’s challenges.
What are the 3 most pressing issues in Shenandoah and what is your preferred solution to each?
The three most pressing issues our city faces are oversight and accountability, crime, and growth and economic development.
I believe the greatest issue currently is oversight and accountability. The current council and city administrator are rubber stamping city budgetary items, capital improvements, and economic development expansion in 3-2 vote approvals. Spending is out of control, and there is no accountability or representation of the residents of Shenandoah. Here's an example: we are using the city's general fund tax dollars for economic development when the city has a M.D.D. Any economic development funding should be eliminated out of the city's general budget, such as the proposed $2.4 million water plant. Shenandoah's M.D.D. currently has a $5,000,000 surplus, and has funded these types of projects in the past. This is not an expense that the residents should incur, especially since the additional water plant will support the commercial mixed use development on the east side of I-45. Utilizing M.D.D. funds would prevent the city from going into further debt and increasing the residential water rates by 10%. We need to eliminate frivolous spending, waste, and unnecessary capital improvement projects from our budget, and reinvest those funds into reducing our debt, lowering our taxes and increasing our police department for the safety of our community. In addition to overspending, there is no oversight in our city administration. We lost 26% of the city's employee in 1 year. That is a horrific number of trained city employees to loose, yet current council admits there's not a staffing problem. "Simply" this is commonsense oversight. First, I would propose a change in Article 2 of the Shenandoah City Ordinance, giving back the power to city council to be involved with city employees. I would require all department heads to attend and give report on their department before council monthly. Secondly, I believe the governing process should be reviewed by citizen's with clear eyes and a full heart. Therefore, I would propose term limits for city council to no more than 3 consecutive terms served. And finally, I would propose that city council adopt a code of ethics by which we govern our city.
Crime has consistently been increasing over the last several years. Shenandoah use to be known as the "Safest little city in Texas," and God forbid if you tried to speed through our city. Now our patrolman are being used to enforce city ordinances against homeowners like HOA security guards, rather than utilizing effective policing techniques to prevent crime. One of the greatest assets of the city is our police department. We have some of the best trained crime preventing officers in the county and state working at SPD. Unfortunately this is the one department that has not grown proportionately in terms of growth with our the city. Deterring crime evolves around 3 primary fundamentals. 1) A greater police presence - we need more officers on patrol. 2) Effective policing techniques and equipment. 3) Teamwork -residents/businesses to proactively work with law enforcement on suspicious circumstances and activity. I propose we restructure our city's organization chart to reflect the police depart reporting directly to city council. This allows council proper oversight and allows officers to freely protect our city without being under control of one individual. I would then propose a reinvestment in proper funding of our police department to add one officer on each shift, and identify with SPD the equipment needed to effectively help them reduce crime. And finally, I would propose to work with our civic club, and our business association to introduce a new Team up with SPD campaign to proactively prevent crime.
Now more than ever we need planning and zoning, city council and the M.D.D. need to come together to ensure that there is a good mix of residential and non-residential properties with adequate public facilities available, such as water, wastewater, police protection, and park facilities to assure the remaining land in Shenandoah is properly developed per the city’s comprehensive development plan. Currently, these entities work somewhat independently of one another on projects. It’s time for good leadership to unite residents, city administration, and government to be - “A Better Shenandoah.” In order to ensure proper growth and economic development of our city I would propose a workshop to be attended by P & Z commissioners, M.D.D. board members, and councilmen for the purposes of planning and agreeing on the city's comprehensive development plan. Once we agree on a comprehensive development plan all three entities would be committed to approving only projects that benefit the residents of Shenandoah per that plan.
How can the operation of your city government be made more efficient and cost effective?
First, we need new leadership to review the governing process and implement oversight and accountability to determine the state of our city. Next, we need to eliminate frivilous spending, waste, and unnecessary capital improvements, from our city budget. We also need to identify projects that can funded through the M.D.D. that currently are being funded by the city budget. We then need to have city council, P & Z, and the M.D.D. plan together for the proper growth and development of the remaining land for the city. And finally, we need to restructure the city's organization chart to reflect the police department reporting directly to city council, and require department heads to provide monthly reports before city council.
What's your interpretation of the "Separation of Church and State"?
I believe that "Separation of Church and State" was intended to protect our religious freedoms from government interference. It was designed to create a wall between the government and the sovereign rights of an individual to serve God in the way they choose to. Unfortunately, in today's political environment the first amendment is now being used to remove crosses, the ten commandments, and prayer from public buildings and gatherings under the same phrase rather than protect their existence. I think our forefathers would be terribly grieved by the restrictions placed on religion today.
What is your primary resource to help you make difficult decisions as it relates to public policy?
As a Christian, I rely on my faith through prayer, the council of others, and the sovereign rights granted to all men under the Constitution of the United States of America to help make difficult decisions as it relates to public policy.