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Sunday, November, 27

Candidate for Denton City Council Place 5 – Brandon Chase McGee

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Brandon Chase McGee – 18-Wheeler Truck Driver

How long have you lived in Denton?

I lived in Denton for a year. I was here and then I left and then I came back.

In quick, rapid-fire answers, what are the three things you love the most about Denton?

I first came to Denton in 2006 when I started college. The first thing that really got me about Denton was the food. Like even back in college, I remember didn’t Denton has a ton of really great small little restaurants. I love the food here in Denton.

I also really love the fact that Denton has a great community feel. I mean take for example tonight the benefit that’s being organized at several bars in town to help our brothers and sisters over in Ukraine. The family and community aspect of Denton is not something I have experienced anywhere else across the Metroplex and even in the other places that I’ve lived – that’s really amazing.

Why are you running for a position on Denton’s City Council?

Municipal government is the level of government that most affects our lives. And as decisions are being made from most leadership positions, there’s not someone like me that’s represented — regular working-class people like me. Oftentimes, the decisions are being made by people not from regular working-class backgrounds, but they most affect us.

So I’ve been in leadership spaces all of my life, I have been concerned with the way that our community is going. So I said, you know what, someone needs to step up and do it. And if anything, I hope my campaign can give regular working people the competence to know that it is worth it if you take the time away from your families, from your children, from your jobs, from whatever extracurricular activities you have, because you can make a difference. And local government is the game that we should all get in.

Denton has been experiencing a lot of growth over the past few years. How can it continue to expand while still keeping its local Downtown Square charm and small-town feel?

It’s an understatement to say a lot of growth. And now that we are on the precipice of expanding even more around the Northeast Loop and west of 35 — I’ve seen estimates that we’re going to add up to 50,000 more people in the next 15 to 20 years, and I think that’s amazing.

To your question, how can we keep that small-town charm and feel? It’s gonna be incumbent upon future Councils to make sure that we are working with developers to shape the communities as they are being built. Whether that be simple things like the way the streetlights look in a neighborhood, or roundabouts versus stoplights, or position of road signage. Simple things like that — the construction of how the roads are being done. Simple things like that can really help toward building the charm and the character of a city.

I know that unique neighborhoods are important and like-minded communities staying together are also important, so I know working with developers is going to be important for the next Council to do to make sure that we’re helping to encourage developers to put things in communities that are like-minded with neighboring communities. Denton is never going to be a city like Dallas or Fort Worth – we’re never going to see big tall skyscrapers, we’re not going to see tall apartment complexes or anything like that. I’m happy that as we move forward into the future, we are going to continue to protect that small-town feel.

What are your views on expanding public transit in Denton?

We’re going to have to expand public transit. As this community grows, it is important that we make sure that people can move around in a variety of ways in the city.

I’m a truck driver for living. The unions are important to me and many of our public transit employees are union employees, and I think that is great. I want to see that this city protect public transit and even expand it in a way where we are adding not just more employees, but electrified fleets and unique things like rideshare programs. I’m really excited about where we can go in the future.

And we also have to think that as the economy is changing, people might want to move around in a different way. Some folks might not even choose or decide that they want to have cars at all. We want to make sure that this city is still open for them and accessible to everyone, no matter how they choose to get around or their circumstances.

There are a lot of road construction projects going on in Denton, with more scheduled to begin soon. What are your thoughts on these road construction projects and the frustrations they may cause Dentonites?

As I said, I’m a truck driver. Before I got on my current route, I actually ran a route in Denton. So if you ever saw a blue tractor with a white trailer that says Triple-A Cooper on the side, that guy who was trying to navigate these tiny, awful … streets, that’s me.

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So just like all Dentonites, I have a ton of frustration around the road projects, the timing when they’re getting completed. I’ve heard that throughout this campaign, and that is something that is important to me. I want to make sure the road construction projects get finished on time. So for me, what that means is particularly holding contractors accountable when they don’t finish on time. If a contractor says I’m going to be done … on March 2nd. If that road project is not completely done on March 2nd, we need to be ready to sue to recruit some funds on March 3rd.

I really want to have a great relationship with staff so we can make sure that we are working with our contracting partners to make sure that projects get done on time, because it’s causing the city and the residents great, great frustration and pain.

It also speaks to our economic viability. I want to make sure that when visitors come to the City of Denton that they see a city that has amazing streets. And I want to make sure that we are also doing simple stuff, like having great streets so our vehicles can be protected. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, but I have certainly hit a pothole in the City of Denton and I thought my car was gonna fall apart. So I want to make sure that that’s not happening anymore going forward.

What do you think about the skyrocketing housing prices in Denton and if elected, what do you intend to do to help keep people from being priced out of their homes?

That’s the million-dollar question I’ve been getting this entire campaign. I work in the supply chain industry. It’s not getting any better. There’s tremendous pressure on materials, on contractors, on employees, what have you. Inflation obviously is also a big factor.

… Affordable workforce housing is important to me because I need to live in a world of affordable workforce housing like everybody else. To my friends who are in leadership positions, various leadership positions around the state, and even in other states, I’m seeing some unique opportunities for mixed communities that perhaps have houses, shared townhomes, and apartment complexes. We don’t have anything like that in the City of Denton – that will be something I’m very interested in exploring and having conversations with my colleagues and with staff about if elected.

But in addition to that, the most important thing I think I would like to do is make sure that residents of this community are paid amazing wages so that they can afford the quality of life that they want for themselves and for their families. So what that means is attracting the very best companies to come to Denton that are going to make sure that they pay above-average workforce wages, so folks can take care of themselves and their families. But also making sure that we are investing in businesses right here so that they can expand because I know that local business owners all over the city love their employees and they have vowed to take care of their employees. And I believe that when they’re able to expand, they’re gonna pass those profits along to their employees in terms of wages and benefits.

So it’s not an either-or – it’s got to be a both-end approach. We’ve got to make sure that we are able to keep wages high for folks working here in the city, but also do some unique and creative things to try to bring down the cost of housing in the city.

What are some of the charities and nonprofits you support in Denton?

I don’t think there’s any better than children’s advocacy. The Children’s Advocacy Center does amazing work. The synergy that social workers and healthcare professionals and law enforcement have working together to protect our kids is just amazing.

Right now, I’m currently a Leadership Denton Fellow, and getting to learn about all the amazing things that they’re doing over at Serve Denton was really great to me.

Another one that’s been important to me that I was actually blessed to be able to support a couple of weeks ago at a charity benefit was Friends of the Family. They’re doing some amazing work protecting folks in our community.

I’m just so blessed that we have so many nonprofits. These are just two that stick out in my mind right now that are really important to me. If folks don’t know them, they really need to go give them a Google (search) and support if they again.

Please tell us about an obstacle you faced during your life you feel helped prepare you for a position on Denton City Council.

I’ve been very blessed. I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. I have a single mother who sacrificed everything and did everything for myself and my brother who’s 10 years older than me. I’m not gonna say that I’ve had a lot of obstacles in life. I’m so thankful that the way that she raised me to believe that rather than an obstacle, it’s an opportunity. Coming from my background, seeing a mother work hard and sacrifice, and teaching me to work hard and sacrifice for myself, but also invest in my community, because it’s not just about what I can do – it’s more about what I can do for my community.

That’s the question that my mother raised me with. She said, rather than ask what you can do, it’s what you can do for your community. I would say that background has really prepared me for this position on Council.

If I have one superpower, my superpower is being able to get along with everybody and work with everybody for the best comprehensive and cohesive plan moving forward. That is something that I have used in all aspects of my life. So if I did have an obstacle in life, that obstacle was overcome by my ability to want to work with everybody to find a cohesive consensus, which is always in the middle of different differing opinions.

What are your hopes for the future of Denton — where do you see Denton going?

I see Denton continuing to be the amazing place that we all love. Reason why — many of us have moved here or some of us have stayed here. I see this city becoming the most accessible city, the most walkable and bikeable city in the county. Given that we have two major thoroughfare highways in 35E and 35W, as construction is beginning on the eastern part of the city and 380 to ease some of the traffic concerns there, Denton is the place to be, it really is.

I’m so blessed that I live in this community. I know many of us are. I see us continuing to make this the premier city in the county. I think that we can do that if we make sure that we elect the right people who have a diversity of backgrounds and experience professionally and personally.

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