Candidate Questionnaire
City Council Candidates 2015
District 1:
Robert Doyle Cain
Kevin Roden (incumbent)

District 2:
Keely Briggs
John Ryan

District 3:
Amber Briggle
Kathleen Wazny

District 4:
Joey Hawkins (incumbent)
1. In your opinion, what are the three most pressing issues facing Denton today?

  • Robert Doyle Cain:

    1. Fiscal accountability and transparency by city government.

    2. A carefully thought-through, targeted economic development plan not dependent on incentives fronted by taxpayers.

    3. Reduction of rising crime in the downtown area and restoration of our National Register district as a safe place for all, both residents and tourists.
  • Kevin Roden:

    1) Economic Development – judging simply from the indicators of sales and property tax growth, our local economy appears strong. Still, we have college grads who cannot find employment and 45% of our school children are on free or reduced lunch. We can and must do better.

    2) Gas Wells – beyond the current legal situation, the proliferation of gas wells in the fastest growing sector of our city continues to threaten our surface development and future growth possibilities.

    3) Identity – as fast growth is imminent, many citizens I talk to worry about how Denton can maintain its unique identity amidst certain change. How we guide our growth and continue to pursue policies becoming of “Denton” will be key to being the destination city we have become.
  • Keely Briggs:

    Our citizens deserve a much stronger drilling ordinance than what is being discussed currently.

    Getting our transportation infrastructure improved for both pedestrians and vehicles.

    Targeted economic development to bring basic services such as neighborhood markets, banks, and basic retail into currently underserved neighborhoods.
  • John Ryan:

    Replacing an aging infrastructure,

    the perception of the City of Denton is “anti-business”,

    and troublesome code for in-fill development.  
  • Amber Briggle:

    Rapid growth can threaten our unique and independent culture and quality of life.

    The Texas Legislature is challenging our home rule authority and ability to make decisions that are best for our community.

    Not enough large businesses here to offset our high tax rates and demand for infrastructure and services.
  • Kathleen Wazny:

    1. Planning Department Overhaul
    ALL development, large and small, goes through Planning. "One Size Fits All" does not work!

    2. Upgrade Infrastructure

    3. Interfacing Denton's "Old and New"
    Preserve our historic downtown, while creating a successful interface with new business and development.
  • Joey Hawkins:

    Improving Road Conditions,

    a continued focus on making Denton more business friendly,

    government making consistent decisions with a shared vision for the future
2. Given Denton's position in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, what do you view as the top three areas of economic development on which we should be focused?

  • Robert Doyle Cain:

    1. Denton as a hub for supply-chain businesses serving regional industries.

    2. Corporations and other businesses that would benefit from unique programs and resources available at UNT and TWU.

    3. Businesses that pay salaries high enough to help raise our per-capita income.
  • Kevin Roden:

    1) Tech Industry: create a downtown Innovation District, identify real estate options suitable for startups with potential to scale significantly, wire the district with the fastest fiber and wireless in Texas.

    2) Graduate employment analysis: get more strategic and aggressive about identifying the fields UNT/TWU students are pursuing and align our economic development strategies and target industries accordingly.

    3) Expand our Downtown Vision to include the first ring neighborhoods, encompassing the two universities. With strategic infill, redevelopment, and preservation strategies, we have the potential to create both a high end housing stock and increase high end commercial space in our core and without resorting to sprawl.
  • Keely Briggs:

    Improving our transportation infrastructure.

    Programmatically supporting entrepreneurs and startup businesses – especially in the technology sector.

    Focusing on reducing poverty at the local level.
  • John Ryan:

    Denton is the largest city between DFW and OKC on I-35, continuing to promote Denton as a medical destination.

    This also makes Denton ideal for distribution centers and regional manufacturing.

    In an effort to raise median income and better recession-proof Denton technological services needs to be our next bid push.
  • Amber Briggle:

    Our growing startup scene needs more support. With 2 major universities and thousands of bright graduates, the brain drain needs to stop.

    We need to capitalize on our strategic location, educated workforce, and inexpensive real estate to bring more large businesses here.

    The CVB needs to have their own facility.
  • Kathleen Wazny:

    1. Denton's Airport
    Light industrial and distribution.

    2. Tech
    Recruit tech companies from other Texas cities, like Austin. Home prices in Austin are soaring, commutes are long. Let's sell them on Denton.

    3. Medical
    As our population ages, the demand for medical care is soaring.
  • Joey Hawkins:

    Tech Industry-yielding higher paying jobs,

    Complimentary Manufacturing to existing manufacturers-securing future economy,

    A focus on expansion of our Airport-personal property tax revenue
3. Recently, the University of North Texas announced that, if necessary, they would use their eminent domain power to acquire commercial property near campus east of I-35. How do you see the impact of UNT's expansion and potential use of eminent domain into Denton's commercial areas?

  • Robert Doyle Cain:

    University expansion always reduces the city tax base, regardless of location or mode of acquisition (eminent domain, direct purchase). Loss of the only grocery near the campus will negatively affect both students and nearby neighborhoods. The city has no influence over decisions made by UNT regents, none of whom live in Denton.
  • Kevin Roden:

    The use of eminent domain concerns me as it limits the possible future uses to university buildings. However, the area in question has not been updated in decades and was already not performing (or looking) up to its highest and best use. We should work with the university on a redevelopment of this area that benefits both the university and the community.
  • Keely Briggs:

    UNT may be operating within their rights but they are not being good partners. We need to improve the executive level coordination between the city and UNT and better understand UNT’s intentions. Otherwise the campus fringes are going to become economic dead zones where people will fear to invest.
  • John Ryan:

    I believe eminent domain should be reserved for infrastructure projects. UNT’s master plan is no secret, no surprise they are interested in these properties. Many owners lost part of their property to I35 “eminent domain”. I hope UNT is able to negotiate for purchase as opposed to using eminent domain.
  • Amber Briggle:

    While UNT is a major employer and brings much to Denton, removing any taxable property from our tax rolls when we already struggle to pay our bills can end up hurting the city. We must work with UNT to ensure their responsible growth AND a sound fiscal future for Denton.
  • Kathleen Wazny:

    Not a positive. This encroaches on business property that provides jobs and tax revenue. We lose both when UNT takes it over. Local residents are unhappy they're losing a grocery store.
  • Joey Hawkins:

    Although UNT and the City of Denton have had a healthy working relationship, this does concern me. The more State-owned property that rolls off our tax roll, the more it puts a squeeze on our tax base. A shared vision of Denton by the University and the City benefits both.
4. How would you encourage the City of Denton to take advantage of - and utilize - the local professional practitioner resources available through the Denton Chamber of Commerce, Denton Association of Realtors, Denton Community Development Alliance, etc. to help evaluate and develop regulations, policies, practices, and procedures?
  • Robert Doyle Cain:

    The city receives ongoing benefit from expertise of local business organization members through their service on boards, commissions, and committees. In transparent government, the public should be advised at the beginning when regulations, policies, etc., are being developed, and input by professional organizations should be welcomed, as should all citizen input.
  • Kevin Roden:

    The City of Denton should continually foster strategic working relationships with people and institutions in our community to help bring fresh, creative, and strategic ideas to our city. As I have suggested on several occasions, many of these groups would do well to initiate specific policy solutions to issues that concern them in order to jump start important conversations. For instance, we often hear that “it is difficult to do business in Denton.” I would certainly appreciate – and champion – a white paper or study from one of these groups outlining specific best practices in development and small business relations from around the state of Texas.
  • Keely Briggs:

    My primary focus is on increasing citizen engagement. I feel that local professional practitioners enjoy more immediate access to government in many cases than our citizens do. That said, I would value, encourage, and fairly consider all input with regard to developing regulations, policies, and procedures.
  • John Ryan:

    I believe the recent changes to the Planning Department were a great step in this direction. Having members of the business community on the council is very important in order to give staff direction to involve these great local professional practitioner resources in coming up with the best solutions.
  • Amber Briggle:

    The city spends too much time and money on outside consultants. We are already home to 2 universities and a strong professional community willing to offer their knowledge and expertise. Rather than hiring people who don't live here to evaluate our needs and offer advice, we need to look inward.
  • Kathleen Wazny:

    INCLUDE our local business community in the decision making process. Bring them in at the BEGINNING, and not at the END of the process and discussion. This begins with city staff, boards and commissions, and continues through to City Council.
  • Joey Hawkins:

    Too many times, decisions are made in boardrooms by people thinking they have thought through all outcomes and have completely missed the point. I’ve been guilty of this with my businesses.  When you have an open door policy welcoming opinions of experienced professionals the outcome has potential to be great.
5. How do you feel about the City of Denton's continued contracts with the Denton Chamber to administer the Convention & Visitor Bureau and external marketing for economic development?
  • Robert Doyle Cain:

    These contracts bear close, detailed examination to determine whether maximum accountability and taxpayer benefit can be achieved best by their continuance or by city administration of these areas.
  • Kevin Roden:

    The Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau does an outstanding job celebrating our uniqueness and bringing Denton national attention each year. They have been continually innovating their approach. I have had the privilege of serving on the CVB Board for four years and have partnered with them on several occasions for initiatives and events and they are second to none in this field. When it comes to economic development and marketing our city, partnerships are both important and strategic.
  • Keely Briggs:

    My opinion of the Denton Chamber soured last September when it entered the political debate and openly campaigned against a fracking ban. In my opinion, because of your affiliation with the city through this contract, you violated the spirit of good partnership with this community.
  • John Ryan:

    I believe this public-private partnership has been extremely beneficial for Denton. This question relates back directly to the previous question in utilizing the local professional practitioner resources available through the Denton Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is in the business of marketing and economic development. 
  • Amber Briggle:

    Anything we can do to put and keep Denton on the map is a good idea! We compete with the rest of the metroplex (and the country) for business. We have all the ingredients for success - we just need to let people know so they start and stay HERE!
  • Kathleen Wazny:

    I would add a full time Advertising Agency that specializes in economic development and tourism.

    Maintain the partnership, evaluating results and making modifications as needed.
  • Joey Hawkins:

    I am very happy with continued contracts the City has with the Chamber to administer the CVB and external marketing.  The results of marketing strategies put forth by the CVB have put Denton in a national spotlight. The City would not be where it is without these efforts.