Who’s who of Denton’s Nov. 3 city council elections

Article Originally Published by Will Tarpley on North Texas Daily

Elections for seats on Denton’s city council and mayor will be held on Nov. 3 as part of the general election, with over a dozen candidates running for five available seats.

Originally set for May 2, Denton City Council amended its declaration of disaster to delay elections after COVID-19 resulted in statewide lockdowns and concerns over public health and safety, according to a City of Denton press release from March.

Mayoral candidates

The representative of District 2 since 2015, Keely Briggs, 45, has served on the Committee on Citizen Engagement, Community Justice Council and Economic Development Partnership Board among others. Her campaign emphasizes economic prosperity, a bigger focus on addressing issues affecting the less fortunate and public health and safety.

“I have a sincere passion for serving the people of our community and that includes you,” Briggs said in an email to the North Texas Daily. “Being a non-partisan elected official on Denton’s City Council since 2015 has been one of the most humbling and fulfilling experiences of my life. I am asking for the opportunity to keep serving you as Denton’s next Mayor, and to continue to work together as we take on the challenges and opportunities that stem from sitting atop one of the fastest growing and most dynamic regions in our nation. […] It is our duty — you and I — to leave Denton a better place than we found it and to lay a foundation for the health, prosperity, and happiness of Denton’s future generations.”

Gerard Hudspeth, 47, has been representative of District 1 since 2017 and has served on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Agenda Committee and Economic Development Partnership board among others. His platform focuses on keeping families safe, responsible growth and protecting Denton’s quality of life.

“My vision for Denton is to preserve the diverse, family-friendly community that I grew up in 47 years ago,” Hudspeth said in an email to the Daily. “The population will grow, but good city policies can keep the close-knit culture. As Mayor, I will protect that culture by supporting policies that attract first-time homebuyers, such as keeping taxes as low as possible. To accomplish that, I support strategies to attract high-quality businesses to grow the commercial tax base. That brings jobs and also shifts the tax burden away from homeowners. Jobs and low taxes will allow our children to grow up here, graduate here, and then work and raise a family.”

Michael Mitchell, 40, is a delivery driver who filed back in February. He has lived in Denton for 10 months at the time of filing and has no known prior history in politics.

Mitchel’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

District 1 (unexpired term) 

Birdia Johnson, 62, is serving on Denton’s MLK Jr. Recreation Center Advisory Board, the Juneteenth Committee as president and has been involved with the NAACP among other organizations. She is running on a platform of leadership, fortitude and experience.

“I am running for council because our city needs transparency, integrity and continued positive change,” Johnson said in an email to the Daily.

George Michal Ferrie Jr, 33, is the former owner of Wine Squared, a wine bar on the Square which permanently closed in July, is serving on the Denton Parks, Recreation and Beautification Board and volunteers with OUTreach Denton among other groups. Ferrie’s campaign looks to address homelessness, disability rights and equality ordinances.

Ferrie said he could not provide a statement to the Daily in time before publication.

District 2 (unexpired term) 

Ronnie Anderson, 53, is an administrator for the Denton County Clerk’s Office with some experience as a mortgage broker. He is focusing on infrastructure, specifically road development, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.

Anderson did not offer a statement to the Daily. 

Daniel Clanton, 49, has worked in the IT industry for 26 years and has volunteered with Keep Denton Beautiful, the PTA at Wilson Elementary School and it’s Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students). Clanton’s platform looks to address infrastructure, gas wells and supporting the police.

Clanton did not respond to the Daily’s request for comment.

Connie Baker, 75, is a former Denton Constable Pct and Deputy Constable with 25 years of experience, who has been a member of the Denton Black Chamber of Commerce, the Denton County Historical Commission and the City of Denton Traffic Safety Commission among others. Baker hopes to revitalize economies in the wake of COVID-19, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.

Baker did not respond to the Daily’s request for comment.

Kady Irene Finley, 26, is a paralegal who has worked at the Law Office of Rocky Hair since 2016 and a legal assistant to Schell Cooley Ryan Campbell LLP since 2019. She has also volunteered at the Denton County Sheriff’s Office. Finley’s campaign focuses on public safety, low taxes and supporting local businesses.

Finley did not respond to the Daily’s request for comment.

Jon Hohman, 47, is a commercial photographer who is running on a campaign of accessibility, public investment and cooperation.

“Denton rocks,” Hohman said. “Now how to keep the guitars plugged in? Too many studies reflect it and the verdict is proven over and over again: local resilience through a pedestrian-friendly local economy- steals the limelight from sprawl. New Urbanism city design provides a higher quality of life that attracts new residents and jobs and keeps college grads local and thriving. The same things that make a city more sustainable make it more livable and economically enviable. I’d like to see Denton keep a packed house- standing room only.”

At Large Place 5

Incumbent for Place 5 since 2018, Deb Armintor is running for re-election after her first term. Her platform focuses on reimagining public health and safety, economic development and local representation.

Armintor did not respond to the Daily’s request for a statement.

Rick Baria, 68, has served on Denton’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, two City of Denton citizen Tree Ordinance committees and has worked as a citizen volunteer on the Denton Development Clue. Baria’s platform includes supporting public health and safety, long-range planning and local services.

“Goals for Denton: Work on goals everyone shares before we set the World straight, better housing and more plentiful jobs,” Baria said in an email to the Daily. “Shaded bike and walk paths. Personal philosophy tells you more than a list of policies. The policy is affected by the political process, a steak comes out as a sausage. Campaigns are a lot of work, but they are temporary. Becoming is forever. Seek understanding before money, fame, or pleasure; nothing else is lasting. Listen more than you speak; it makes the day far more interesting. Happiness is not found without but within, so don’t just join a cause, find or make your own.”

At Large Place 6

Incumbent of Place 6 since 2018, Paul Meltzer, 59, is also running for re-election, having previously worked in telecommunications and product executive. His campaign focuses on affordable housing, nurturing Denton’s artistic community and championing environmental protection.

“With all the growth, I want to make sure that, in the end, we get a Denton that’s not just bigger but better,” Meltzer said in an email to the Daily. “I want to safeguard our natural and historic areas and build to that goal of green space within a ten-minute walk for everyone, connected by trails I want to make a bigger downtown possible, with great public areas. I want to encourage growing high tech start-ups to expand here, with good-paying careers for our grads. I want a more comprehensive approach to homelessness, to recycling, and to encourage the arts, Denton’s great draw. ”

Jim Mann, 51, is a Denton native who is currently the lead pastor at New Life Church, has served on the Denton Area Hospital Chaplaincy Board and is an Associate Professor of New Testament at Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity. Mann’s campaign focus on less government and more family values and strong managed growth.

“I was born and reared here […]” Mann said in an email to the Daily. “Flow Memorial hospital, Woodrow Wilson, Strickland, DHS. I grew up in ‘Idiot’s Hill’ in north Denton. Though I left town for college and grad school, many of my friends stayed at UNT and I came back to start a family. Denton is the number two Boomtown in the U.S. and in the top 50 best places to live in America. I want to see the business community grow so that we have careers to entice our students to stay.”

Liam York, a self-described “small government guy,” has posted about his goals and thoughts on Denton’s economy on his YouTube channel. His campaign focuses on less government involvement, repairing infrastructure and better transparency in city politics.

“Our water is gross, our roads are bad and the city government is entirely reactionary in their policies rather than preventative,” York said in an email to the Daily. “The biggest policy goal I have is to strip down city government to its bare bones […] Past that I think we should allow for more individual liberties. This includes decriminalizing cannabis and opening up businesses to full capacity despite the governor’s edict. We need to clean our water, allow more businesses to come set up shop here by waiving fees on paperwork and reduce the red tape on top of that. Invest in repairing our electrical grid, provide better police training by requiring one day a week, every week to be on the job situational training and exercise. Stop investing in public art and let the public make their own art. Use those funds to improve our landscaping and find new ways to address the concerns of the overflowing city landfill like anaerobic digestion. I hope to be that real change and that real voice for our city.”

Voting information

Since Texas is an open primary state, prior registration with a political party is not required. Early voting is Oct. 13 – 30 and locations for both early voting and election day voting can be found on the Vote Denton website. Maps are also available for before and during election day. Sample ballots can be found here.

Courtesy Twitter, City of Denton, Facebook, Grand Lodge I.O.O.F. of Texas, Daniel Clanton, Jon Hohman, Rick Baria, Jim Mann

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Source: North Texas Daily