Richardson City Council Elections – Survey of candidates and voting info

Election Information

DALLAS COUNTY & COLLIN COUNTY Early Voting Times & Locations (within City of Richardson)

Monday, April 22 – Friday, April 26
Saturday, April 27
Sunday, April 28
Monday, April 29 – Tuesday, April 30
8 a.m.-5 p.m.
8 a.m.-5 p.m.
1 p.m.-6 p.m.
7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Dallas County Early Voting Locations | Collin County Early Voting Locations

COLLIN COUNTY Early Voting Times (outside City of Richardson)

Monday, April 22 – Wednesday, April 24
Thursday, April 25
Friday, April 26 – Saturday, April 27
Monday, April 29 – Tuesday, April 30
8 a.m.-5 p.m.
8 a.m.-7 p.m.
8 a.m.-5 p.m.
7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Election Day – MAY 4, 2019 7:00AM – 7:00PM

COLLIN COUNTY voters may vote at any of these locations on Election Day.

DALLAS COUNTY voters must vote at their specific voting location for Election Day (look up).


Richardson Candidate Questionnaire on Environmental Issues

This questionnaire was created by Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund (TCE Fund) and our Richardson supporters in order to provide the public with direct responses from Richardson city council candidates on important environmental topics. Some candidates did not respond to the questionnaire.

1. Richardson’s recycling rates are low and contamination is a problem. As the “Technology Corridor city,” we should be better than this. Would you, as a city council member, be willing to advocate for a comprehensive solid waste plan, similar to plans in Dallas and Fort Worth, which would greatly reduce landfill waste from residential, commercial, and multi-family properties?

Bob Dubey (P1) – No response.

Jason Clarke (P1) – No response.

Mark Solomon (P2) –  The rate of re-cycling in Richardson has continued to improve over the years. As a member of Council, I am very supportive of our efforts in this area and we are constantly reviewing our plans to improve both participation and contamination issues. We have a comprehensive solid waste plan and continue to work to reduce the tonnage to the landfill.



Dan Barrios (P3) – It is shocking to know that only roughly 20% of Richardson residents currently take advantage of recycling. First, we need to educate our residents on the benefits of recycling and expand the access for everyone so it’s easier. If elected, I would go directly to multi-family homes and find ways to partner with them to encourage recycling. Finally, I would work with our neighborhoods to find the “trash hotspots” that the city needs to address and encourage community members to work together to help maintain the beauty of our great city.

Franklin Byrd (P3) – I understand that the City of Richardson already has a comprehensive solid waste plan. If elected, I would support efforts to continue looking at ways to increase recycling participation and decrease tonnage going to landfills.



Janet Depuy (P3) – I’m not yet familiar with Dallas/Ft. Worth’s comprehensive solid waste plan. I would, however, like for Richardson to increase its recycle participation. It’s so easy to do and Richardson provides free recycle bags for every household! In another questionnaire I suggested that perhaps Richardson could do a targeted campaign to get more participation here. They do have the shredding and electronics recycle programs – coming soon in fact. And that event has a huge participation!


Kyle Kepner (P4) – We obviously need more education when it comes to the public knowledge of recycling. I would like to see the programs expanded to multifamily and corporate locations. I have no problem copying other successful programs to raise the participation rate.



Johnny Lanzillo (P4) –  I want to expand our education on the city’s recycling program. Not only to better educate on contamination, but to increase participation. I’d also like to see the program expanded to city and neighborhood parks, and apartment complexes. The best goal would be zero waste. I don’t think Richardson is close to that yet though.


Raymond DeGuzman, Sr. (P4) – No response.

Ken Hutchenrider (P5) –  As a family that recycles I am unsure why rates are so low.  I believe the first step that needs to occur is a listening tour of residents to better understand why residents in Richardson do not recycle.  Once we learn the reasons, then a plan can be created which will be very effective for Richardson and our environment.  I do not want to cookie cutter a solid waste plan from another City as I believe Richardson is unique and we need to listen first and then develop plans after.  Components of other City’s plans may be useful as examples but I would want to see a plan created by Richardson for Richardson.

Mauri Long (P5) – I agree that with all the technology based in Richardson, our city should be at the forefront of combining economic development, environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility. Richardson can implement wheeled carts for trash pickup and recycling. The city can also create recycling drop-off sites that would target multi-family residences. I support the 2040 initiative for zero waste initiative because I want to see the city that I love create an environment for our kids that we are raising here.


Steve Mitchell (P6) – No response.

Paul Voelker (P7) – No response.

2. In an effort to improve the quality of life, pedestrian mobility, air emissions and reduce wear and tear on streets in Richardson, would you be willing to pursue the addition of protected bike lanes to appropriate roadways and create a short, medium and long term plan to achieve this?

Bob Dubey (P1) – No response.

Jason Clarke (P1) – No response.

Mark Solomon (P2) –  We are a bike friendly city and I am always open to ways to improve mobility within the City.

Dan Barrios (P3) – I feel very strongly about this topic and am a huge proponent of making Richardson as bike friendly as possible. My campaign has recently been in contact with Bike Friendly Richardson and I look forward to meeting with them to learn more about their ideas. As a councilman, I would not only push for more bike lanes, but let’s be smarter about how and where we put them. For example, we need to consider safety — simply put, potholes and sidewalks need to be a higher priority. Further, I would introduce the “RIDE” Richardson concept. RIDE would examine connecting our neighborhoods and parks to economic centers via designated biking and walking paths. One example would be connecting Huffines Park, Berkner Park and the surrounding neighborhoods to Richardson Square. This is good for our environment and our economy.

Franklin Byrd (P3) – I would be willing to pursue the addition of protected bike lanes where appropriate. I live directly off a major cut through street in Richardson where bike lanes have been added and I’ve seen the positive benefits from protected bike lanes. Additionally, I’m a long-distance runner and regularly share the roadways with bikes and motor vehicles which can be very dangerous. Protected bike lanes provide safely to bikers and runners.

Janet Depuy (P3) – We do have some protected bike lanes through Richardson, but probably not enough. I do know that we’re trying to make more development/redevelopment areas more pedestrian and bike friendly (Main Street area for instance). And best of all — at least Richardson does have 4 DART stations, more than any other suburb and soon to come Cotton Belt Rail Line. I would like to know more about how many cyclists are using the bike lanes, where they would want more, what areas are we missing, etc.? It’s probably a subject worth looking into. Honestly, I’d like to get more people to use DART, especially if they work in downtown Dallas.

Kyle Kepner (P4) – I think when we do these new developments protected bike lanes should be considered.

Johnny Lanzillo (P4) –  Yes, I think protected bike lanes have a ton of advantages. I want the city to continue to look at pedestrian and bike friendly developments. The innovation district is a good start.  I think making sure we have affordable housing in Richardson is another important factor in limiting vehicle emissions and wear and tear on the roads so that employees aren’t commuting from other areas of the metroplex.

Raymond DeGuzman, Sr. (P4) – No response.

Ken Hutchenrider (P5) –  I am very willing to pursue additional bike lanes where it makes sense and does not create further transportation issues in our Community.  I do believe this will need to be a multi year plan developed after a good review of current lane availability and listening to our community as to their needs and concerns.

Mauri Long (P5) –  Research on bike lanes show that many people would like to bike more, but don’t because of their concern for safety. Protected lanes create the environment that will help change that behavior. With designated bike lanes, Richardson would be promoting safe cycling and define road space for bikes and cars, and creates a more orderly flow of traffic. I believe continuing to build on the lanes that our city has installed, would be a positive direction for Richardson.

Steve Mitchell (P6) – No response.

Paul Voelker (P7) – No response.

3. Air quality in Richardson is often listed by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as unhealthy, especially in the hotter months. Increasing pollution in the region is worsening air quality and driving climate change. Dallas is pursuing the development of a climate action plan which includes a greenhouse gas inventory and air quality monitoring to address local air concerns. If elected, would you support additional air quality monitoring, a greenhouse gas inventory, and climate action plan for Richardson?

Bob Dubey (P1) – No response.

Jason Clarke (P1) – No response.

Mark Solomon (P2) – As I understand monitoring of Air Quality is a regional activity and NOT city specific. it is monitored for the entire 9 county area of North Texas. As a member of Council, I support our currents efforts in this arena.

Dan Barrios (P3) – Yes, because I want my son to have clean air today and tomorrow. I would not only look at air quality monitoring, but also ways we can improve it anyways. For example, if a homeowner invests in their home to be greener, let’s reward them with tax incentives. Secondly, I would push for more actions from the city — like adjusting our landscaping to be renewable and more cost effective in the long run.

Franklin Byrd (P3) – If elected, I would complete the required due diligence analysis to be properly educated on environmental issues such as these so that I could make intelligent decisions. Our environment is very precious to the generations to come and I would like to help to protect it.

Janet Depuy (P3) – Regarding your air quality question: We have three highly traveled and crowded highways surrounding Richardson: Hwy 75, I 635, and George Bush. Our population during the day is probably over 125,000 people. In addition we’re part of a huge metropolitan area. I don’t know yet what Richardson has done in the past or currently does to contribute to air quality monitoring in partnership with the rest of the region. I would need to know if what is already being done to monitor air quality is enough, or if it would be absolutely necessary for Richardson to do it’s own monitoring. I’m sure these tests come with costs and, if so, further investigation on need and cost would need to be done.

Kyle Kepner (P4) – I would not want to align with the City of Dallas because we don’t have any big offenders. In the long term we need to look at building up instead of out. Density helps with emissions and when building up you can implement more greenspace.

Johnny Lanzillo (P4) –  I would certainly support any plans of action brought before council that improve our air and our environment. I want this to be a city my son can raise a family in one day. If we don’t work to improve the air quality, he may not have that opportunity.

Raymond DeGuzman, Sr. (P4) – No response.

Ken Hutchenrider (P5) –   Overall I am unclear as to the effect the City of Richardson and its citizens are to the environmental issues in our area.  I would want to better understand this by listening to our residents and determine what we need to do to effect the issue based on our contribution to it.  City resources are not unlimited and I would want to ensure that additional measures placed on the City would be proportional to our contribution to the issue.  I am not opposed to doing our fair share but would not want to have this be a major budget cost if our effect is smaller than other cities.  I believe other infrastructure issues would need to be the priority.

Mauri Long (P5) –  I support new actions in Richardson that would include removing more old vehicles from the road, more electric vehicles in the city’s fleet, more solar panels on buildings to reduce burning fossil fuels for electricity and help for people with asthma.

Steve Mitchell (P6) – No response.

Paul Voelker (P7) – No response.

Arlington City Council Elections – Survey of candidates and voting info

Election Information

Early Voting Times

April 22 – 26 Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
April 27 Saturday 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
April 28 Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
April 29 ‐ 30 Monday ‐ Tuesday  7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Early Voting Locations in City of Arlington:

Bob Duncan Center 2800 South Center Street Arlington 76014
Elzie Odom Athletic Center 1601 NE Green Oaks Boulevard Arlington 76006
Center for Community Service Junior League of Arlington 4002 West Pioneer Parkway Arlington 76013
South Service Center 1100 SW Green Oaks Boulevard Arlington 76017
Tarrant County Sub-Courthouse in Arlington 700 E Abram Street Arlington 76010
Tarrant County College Southeast Campus EMB – Portable Building C  2100 Southeast Parkway Arlington 76018
Note: You can vote at any polling location in the county during Early Voting. Find additional Early Voting locations outside City of Arlington

Election Day – MAY 4, 2019 7:00AM – 7:00PM

Lookup your specific voting location for Election Day

Arlington Candidate Questionnaire on Environmental Issues

This questionnaire was created by Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund (TCE Fund), Liveable Arlington, and Arlington Conservation Council (ACC) in order to provide the public with direct responses from Arlington city council candidates on important environmental topics. Some candidates did not respond to the questionnaire.

1. In 2018 there was serious resident opposition to setback waivers that allow drilling at distances less than 600 feet from Arlington homes and other protected uses. There was an accident at Fannin Farms in September 2018 where drilling was permitted as close as 320 feet from homes. Many peer-reviewed studies document public health and safety risks from living close to drilling. How would you address the issue of setback distance waivers for drilling?

Jeff Williams (Mayor seat) – I am not in favor of waivers for setback distance. I will be working for the elimination of waivers for setback distance. I have been leading an effort to increase restrictions on gas wells within the limits of the law.



Ruby Faye Woolridge (Mayor seat) – When I saw that the opposition was struck down and that drilling will resume near residences at a dangerous distance, I was shocked. The city of Arlington can do better for its residents’ safety. When elected mayor I will make sure Arlington aims higher and work with the people to limit drilling to 1200 feet away from residences. This number is deemed a real safe distance away to ensure that residents are healthy and safe. State laws will attempt to restrict our ability to do this, but as mayor I would petition congress to relieve those restrictions.

Ashton Stauffer (Mayor seat) – It’s my understanding that whenever we first started drilling, The proceeds would go into the Arlington tomorrow foundation. This money was legally robbed do you provide corporate welfare two large corporations and owners of sports franchises. Because my campaign is about putting Arlington citizens first, I will pledge to you, that we will find a livable compromise on this very important issue. A compromise that ensures that first and foremost our citizens are kept safe, and able to live happily here in their homes in Arlington.

Chris Dobson (Mayor seat) – No response

Marvin Sutton (D3) – I support increased setback distances. I believe we should toughen the standards to decrease the harmful exposure of pollutants to our communities. Studies have confirmed the increase in health risk levels.  Dallas currently has a setback distance of 1,500 which I view as a reasonable distance. I am willing to work with the gas and oil industry and environmental experts to ensure that we reduce the safety risks to our citizens and environment. I will aggressively advocate a safe and clean environment. My town hall meetings will include gas well site reports from sites within the district. I’ll consult with Livable Arlington locally and other groups to ensure our gas well operations do not compromise safety or expose our environment to harmful pollutants.  I oppose issuing setback waiver and will work to aggressively expose the harm it does to our community.

Roxanne Thalman (D3) – No response

Cyndi Golden (D4) – I believe waivers should be rare and only given under unusual circumstances. The citizens accepted 600 ft as the setback and it should be honored.




Teresa Rushing (D4) – No response

Andrew Piel (D4) – No response

Ignacio Nunez (D5) –Through the same democratic process that we have in place now.  I have stated in another groups survey that in a perfect world I would always vote to not drill inside a City where we live.  This is Texas with a long history of Oil Friendly State legislation. Our public universities are partially funded via oil money.  To believe that local ordinances will prevent drilling, in this state is unfortunately, as you well know, not going to happen. As a physician I am well aware of the potential dangers.  But when 70% of an affected neighborhood votes to decrease the setback then, as written today, it can be done. I am also aware of a pending town hall meeting where there will be a discussion to decrease the set back to 300 and maybe even no setback with neighborhood approval.  I need more information. Peer reviewed studies can be biased. Be careful if bringing data to a meeting that you can show statistics that are valid and not open to interpretation.

Celia Morgan (D5) – I do not agree with shrinking distance limits on gas well operations. I don’t believe that there is a need to drill inside city limits. Arlington is growing rapidly- and we are running out of room for roads, homes, businesses already, not to mention compromising our natural parks and contributing to decimating erosion and environmental issues. We can be a leading energy center without gas wells. Instead I would like to see the City do more to use innovative green energy solutions- we could put a good amount of solar paneling on that new retractable roof Stadium!

Kennedy Jones (D5) – No response

Andy Prior (D5) – No response

Barbara Odom-Wesley (D8) – I cannot agree with waiving the setback requirement.  Setback limits for gas wells should be set based on scholarly research.  The health and safety impact should be defined. With this data, the limits should be established, enforced an applied to each case.
The city must be able to guarantee public safety and protection of the environment.  The advantage of drilling is to access valuable minerals. We all benefit from these resources.  The big disadvantage is potential pollution of water and soil as well as the negative impact on air quality.  The health of residents living near wells can also be affected which is why the setbacks are so critical.

Don Warner (D8) – I am not in favor of approving setbacks to less than 600 feet under the current ordinance without adequate justification, a site visit, and added restrictions. Scientific studies are not clear on what setbacks fully mitigate human health and safety concerns caused by oil and gas wells. And of course setbacks are determined as to type of well. All oil and gas wells that I am aware of in Arlington are non H2s wells. Therefore, if we were establishing a limit in Arlingington, Texas, I would start with a minimum of 2500 feet. However, as we all know a precedence has been set in Arlington and wells have been drilled to the 300 feet setback based on the current ordinance. House Bill 40 has tied municipalities hands , especially at this point in the process. There are 18 established drill zones where precedence has been established to something less than 600 feet where some restrictions may be added. There are 36 more sites where drill zones have not been established where some increased levels of mitigation should be pursued such as SUP super majority, electric rigs, monitoring, reduced setbacks, traffic restrictions in residential neighborhoods, etc.
HB40 par.(c) The authority of a municipality…………. to regulate an oil or gas operation expressly preempted, except that a municipality may enact, amend or enforce an ordinance or other measure that: (2) is commercially reasonable; among other restrictions.

Joshua Taylor (D8) – Everyone should be held to the same standard in regards to preserving our public safety and minimizing risks of our residents in the city. Earning favor of the council should not be a route to obtaining waivers that could potentially put someone at risk. The accident in September 2018 should be a clear indication. Cutting corners may seem risk free, but when being entrusted to be for the constituents or residents of the city, safety should always be first priority. Work needs to be done, but work should never come before safety, especially in the eyes of an elected official charged to serve the people of its community.

Robert Harris (D8) – No response

2. “Texas is particularly vulnerable to a changing climate. It has had more costly weather-related disasters than any other state, and those events will happen more often as air and ocean temperatures climb, scientists say.”1 How would you help Arlington develop policy to mitigate and adapt to climate change and to lower its carbon footprint?

Jeff Williams (Mayor seat) – Through current meetings and ongoing activities, I find immense value in utilizing renewable energy in Arlington to help mitigate and adapt to climate change. I have already been at work in several areas and will continue to be a champion in this area. Currently, we have been installing LED lamps in all of our thoroughfare streetlights. As you know, LED lights are up to 80% more efficient than traditional lighting, plus because they use less energy this reduces demand from power plants and decreases gas emissions.
Another area where our carbon footprint can be reduced is by decreasing the amount of cars on our streets. I have been a champion for cycling and walking in our city and throughout our State. In fact, I have won numerous awards for trail design that started years before becoming Mayor. I have been able to build synergies throughout the DFW metroplex to increase trails and develop our trail master plan to provide connectivity throughout our city and to surrounding cities. This access will allow more to be able to bike and walk to destinations rather than drive. I have also enjoyed promoting cycling by participating in cycling meetings and promoting the recent opening of Trek of Arlington.
Under my leadership as Mayor, there has been more advancements in public transportation than in any other time in our history. One example is our city is offering an alternative to driving by using a technology-based rideshare program. Ridership numbers are at an all-time high. Because of Arlington’s proactive stance on reducing vehicle congestion, we have become a leader in transportation innovation and a test site for many new technologies. I will continue to aggressively pursue technology to reduce the vehicles on the road thus translating to a reduction in pollution and emissions released.

Ruby Faye Woolridge (Mayor seat) –  We can work to implement the policies that were established by the EPA . I would Join in on the Climate Mayors Compact, stand in solidarity with the climate mayors because it will provide meaningful action in our cities and communities. The Climate Mayors commitment to innovation to electrify municipal fleets of vehicles will improve air quality and help cities like Arlington to transition from fossil fuel vehicles.

Ashton Stauffer (Mayor seat) – my dad always said if you don’t like the weather here in Texas just wait an hour and it will change. The state of Texas has what is called a rainy day fund. Right now it has about $13 billion in it. This is money that is set aside primarily for natural disasters. We need to work with our state legislature on implementing commonsense solutions to help prevent these disasters. We can use some of the money from the rainy day fund to cover those costs. We need to start by making it a priority to keep our water and air pure and clean.

Chris Dobson (Mayor seat) – No response

Marvin Sutton (D3) – Climate change (global warming) is real and has a profound adverse effect on our planet and livelihood. My hope is to reverse the trends of our greenhouse gas emissions.  We’ll embrace policies that lower our carbon footprints and encourages the following, a. Use of clean, renewable energy. b. Carpooling. c. Use and acquisition of energy efficient vehicles, equipment and appliances. d. Increase our tree population by 25 percent.

Roxanne Thalman (D3) – No Response

Cyndi Golden (D4) – Education of citizens and decision makers is crucial to begin change in this direction. Some choices are easy ie. optimizing energy efficiency in buildings, using LED bulbs, harnessing solar energy. Others may not even be costly such as using native plants in landscaping and parks to decrease water usage, buying locally to decrease the distance of transport from the source ( and that’s also good for the local economy). Utilizing suppliers who reduce carbon emissions also could be a priority.  15% of carbon emissions come from transportation. So limiting the number of cars and encouraging walking, biking, and ride share also helps to lower the carbon footprint.

Teresa Rushing (D4) – No response

Andrew Piel (D4) – No response

Ignacio Nunez (D5)I believe in climate change and that we are most likely the cause.  I am open to any idea that decreases our use of fossil fuels, gets us out of our cars more often.  It needs to be an affordable idea that does not jeopardize basic services: Fire, Police, Water and Sewer, Roads and Transportation, Parks, Libraries.
I will not pretend have expertise in this area.  As a council person I will listen to all ideas and an open to change.  

Celia Morgan (D5) – I recently came to learn that the City has not updated it’s new development guidelines since 2003, when I graduated high school. It’s been far too long since we’ve worked to ensure new developers are building with a rapidly changing climate in mind. In addition, all new developments should meet a certain percentage of renewable energy systems where applicable. We need to make investments in our Public Works budget to aid with the projects that have been ongoing with the city for over ten years and move to get our current watershed study completed before it’s anticipated due date if possible. We also need to work with climate experts to ascertain what preventative measures can be adopted and put into practice across the city.

Kennedy Jones (D5) – No response

Andy Prior (D5) – No response

Barbara Odom-Wesley (D8) – My help would be in the form of research and study of the issues associated with climate change.  I think it is important to invite a diversity of expertise and opinions to the policy-development discussion.  I would seek assistance from UTA as well as the EPA. Much has been written on this subject including the article you cited.  Using all of this information along with citizen input, the city can be guided to making policy that would protect our environment and reduce the carbon footprint.  

Don Warner (D8) – Regardless of where you stand on this issue it’s important to develop a plan that would phase in pritorized improvements to our environment. There are numerous cities that could be benched marked for their efforts on this subject. Improving our environment is everyone’s business and should be addressed. Arlington should look seriously at improving transportation options, traffic patterns, waste / recycling solutions, renewable energy, green space/trees, industrial processes/buildings, stormwater retainage, and air conditioning options. All of these can be impacted in thoughtful economical processes if we will make the commitment and develop the planning for implementation. Transportation options, waste disposal / recycling, and new construction requirements would be my first priority.

Joshua Taylor (D8) – I believe that what we can do in Arlington to contribute to the fight against Texas’s future climate change is to first address the need for public transportation in our city. Properly exploring a self sufficient transportation system in our city (via busing, biking, and or scooters, available to the public, ultimately leads to less carbon dioxide released into the air. Studies show that an average car emits 6 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
Having a more environmentally conscious candidate on our city council, one that can effectively promote the importance of recycling and public awareness of our environment, while maintaining a healthy livable ecosystem for us all to enjoy. I would look to do research on our use of Smart Meters in the city, and development of more energy efficient buildings.

Robert Harris (D8) – No response.

3. The vast majority of trash that is disposed at the city landfill comes from businesses within and outside Arlington. City staff are preparing to write a long term solid waste management plan that will examine projects and program priorities for dealing with landfill waste, recycling, and composting. Would you support a solid waste plan that includes goals to greatly reduce waste in Arlington? Would you support policy objectives including requirements for businesses and apartments to provide recycling, and separate collection for yard trimmings and brush waste from residents?

Jeff Williams (Mayor seat) – Yes, I would support a solid waste plan that includes goals to greatly reduce waste in Arlington. I would support policy objectives including requirements for businesses and apartments to provide recycling. We already have recycling being done at the landfill for brush and concrete. I will work with your organizations on reducing waste and growing recycling, along with other ideas you may have.

Ruby Faye Woolridge (Mayor seat) – I will support plans to ensure that the city of Arlington is a clean and beautiful city and that we don’t contribute to pollution by the way we dispose of waste. I am a strong supporter of recycling and I would work to develop and support plans to require businesses and apartment complexes to recycle.

Ashton Stauffer (Mayor seat) – other municipalities are using incineration to tackle The challenge of waste management. I think it would be prudent to explore that possibility here in Arlington.

Chris Dobson (Mayor seat) – No response

Marvin Sutton (D3) – I support working with our staff to create a Zero Waste Plan for our city by 2035. I would also support deployment of large recycle bins at parks and recreation center, and require business and apartments to use recycle containers provided by the city.  Residents would be encouraged to use compost containers provided by the city. Town hall meetings would address city waste reduction and recycling/reusing/composting communities’ goal.

Roxanne Thalman (D3) – No response

Cyndi Golden (D4) – I would support a solid waste plan to reduce waste including requirements for businesses and apartments to provide recycling, and separation of yard trimmings and brush waste.

Teresa Rushing (D4) – No response

Andrew Piel (D4) – No response

Ignacio Nunez (D5) – Since my knowledge is limited in this area I would need to hear thoughts and ideas regarding this topic.  I am aware the many recycling plants are hurting economically because China is no longer buying what they recycle.  And great idea for the brush and yard trimmings collection but how do we pay for the additional manpower needed. I would be open to adding that item to the City’s budget discussion for implementation in the future

Celia Morgan (D5) – Yes to all of these. We need to prioritize the needs of our residents and visitors first- or risk significant impairment to our livelihood and well being in Arlington. With recycling options available for as long as they have, there is no reason not to prioritize it and reduce waste and environmental impact. This is a shared responsibility for all of us to maintain our city- businesses should be equally, if not more, accountable for their impact on our community.

Kennedy Jones (D5) – No response

Andy Prior (D5) – No response

Barbara Odom-Wesley (D8) – Yes, I would support a solid waste plan that establishes goals to greatly reduce waste in Arlington.  I agree the policy objectives should include requirements for businesses and apartments to provide recycling, and separate collection for yard trimmings and brush waste.  

In addition to studying the research on these topics, I would encourage review of best practices in other cities with similar demographics.  

Don Warner (D8) – Yes and yes. I am not intimately familiar with Arlingtons landfill agreements, waste treatment policy or goals. I would be interested in the benchmarking of cities that have world class programs and seeking to move towards those in developing Arlingtons new Waste Management Plan with the assistance of TCE in that process.

Joshua Taylor (D8) – Yes I am in full support of an efficient plan that will reduce waste in Arlington. Promoting uniformity across apartments and businesses in our city and educating on the importance of removing wastes properly, begins with transparency in embracing the need for change. I believe that providing separate collection for trimming and brush wastes is long overdue and collectively as a community, in embracing new change, I believe that a plan for action is in order that allows and promotes productivity in our community, as a community. The hurdles to achieve uniformity are outweighed by the difference it could and will make to the city of Arlington and our individual overall health. I am eager to hear the current city staff’s waste management plan to be proposed.

Robert Harris (D8) – No response

4. Arlington has limited bicycle infrastructure and public transportation options for residents and commuters. What would you do to expand access to transportation in Arlington?

Jeff Williams (Mayor seat) – The effort to increase bicycle infrastructure and public transportation options has already begun. I briefly touched on both of these components in question two, but I would love to expand on the transportation component a little more. During my tenure in office, the City of Arlington has made drastic changes to be on the cutting edge in transportation and finding safer and cheaper options for our citizens. I have led our City to engage in the first autonomous public shuttle in the United States, and in doing so, has the transportation industry bringing innovation and technology to our City! Arlington was the first city in Texas to have autonomous vehicles operating on our roadways. All of the major automobile manufacturers and many new startups are advancing the autonomous technology. Arlington was also the first city in America to start a technology-based rideshare program and it has been hugely successful! The convenience, low cost and timeliness of the service far surpasses the performance and ridership of buses. Many cities across the nation and Tarrant County are following Arlington’s lead and implementing our rideshare program! The rideshare program and autonomous vehicles are only a part of our plan. We will be testing a new prototype of electric shuttles on elevated platforms that can be used as the spine system that are much more cost effective than light rail. The President of DART has stated that they will not be constructing any more rail, except what they have already committed to! They also want to move to some of the new technology solutions. We have implemented 11 innovative transportation technology projects in Arlington, which is the most by any City in Texas. We will be continuing to look for other innovation to improve our transportation.

Ruby Faye Woolridge (Mayor seat) – I would work with the North Texas Council of governments and UTA’s College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs. to develop a bicycle and regional transportation system in Arlington. We can reduce carbon emissions by introducing regional transportation to keep emissions low.

Ashton Stauffer (Mayor seat) – This is one of the issues I discussed with Mayor Williams in private meetings in the past. He seems to have, at least in part, received some direction from me in this area. The new via program is Close to what I suggested but not exactly. Because my aim is to put Arlington citizens first, I recognize the need for some in our community to need transportation. That’s why I have proposed that we create a fund, to those who have either disabilities or fallen on hard times, do you receive vouchers for Uber. This would be directly to and from certain destinations.

Chris Dobson (Mayor seat) – No response

Marvin Sutton (D3) – Arlington is labeled as the most populous American city with no comprehensive public transportation system. While Arlington Via provides limited transportation coverage that addresses some of the transportation needs in certain areas of Arlington, the question of how do we get our growing commuters to work has yet to be resolved. District 3 is one of the fastest growing districts in Arlington and over 90 percent of the district commutes outside of Arlington on a daily basis creating gridlock on our highways and interstate.  Building a couple of transit stations strategically along highway 360 would be beneficial in mitigating congestion during peak traffic flow periods.

Roxanne Thalman (D3) – No response

Cyndi Golden (D4) – Our lack of public transportation has become a broader issue than just the movement of people. We must continue to seek alternative forms of transit because the citizens have voted down mass transportation on 3 occasions. I have an idea about approaching our biggest employers to implement ride sharing within their companies. It could be carpooling systems set up among employees, or a service provided by the company itself. The business could offer close parking, free breakfast or whatever to incentivize the employees to utilize the service. The benefit to the employer is that it promotes community values, and a sense of connection among employees.  It would have to be a system setup pairing folks who live in the same area to make it convenient. This could be easily identified by analytics and offer route and ride choices to those involved. Many of the top employers in Arlington would lend themselves well to this type of plan. As an example AISD, GM, THR all have a significant number of employees working the same shifts. In those companies it would be relatively easy to choose rideshare.
I also want to see VIA expand, and continue the search for other options that Arlington citizens will endorse.

Teresa Rushing (D4) – No response

Andrew Piel (D4) – No response

Ignacio Nunez (D5) – This City has turned down elections to implement “bus” public transportation 3-4 times since I have lived here by very large margins.  It is politically a nonstarter in this city. Via “ride sharing” has now expanded to cover from Lamar to I20 and Bowen to 360. It costs the taxpayers 1million a year and is profitable. It should be expanded.  Computer controlled traffic lights are being installed to improve the flow of traffic. I agree with more bike lanes. There is not one public owned transportation system in the US that is profitable. Light rail sounds great but right of way from our entertainment district to TRE is nonexistent and brings up the issue of Eminent Domain through very expensive real estate.  How about monorails above our present roads powered by new technology “tubes” with low air pressure?

Celia Morgan (D5) – Protected bike lanes around heavy bike use areas are a must- and while there are a few around the city, they are far between and not necessarily in coordination with areas of high bicycle traffic. In addition, I understand the city has been looking into scooters for the UTA campus. While these environmentally friendly transportation alternatives are wonderful- they’re also incredibly dangerous in a city that relies on automobile transportation as the number one mode of transportation. We need to have a comprehensive plan for transportation, that involves all our options: commuter rail, bikes, scooters, and driver/operator safety.

Kennedy Jones (D5) – No response

Andy Prior (D5) – No response

Barbara Odom-Wesley (D8) – I believe all citizens of Arlington would benefit from more public transportation options.  Public transportation increases access to work, healthcare, schools and universities as well as entertainment and other amenities.
Additionally, public transportation would help ease traffic congestion and reduce harmful emissions.  Currently, Arlington offers options that service small segments of the population. Even though the city has tried several pilot projects, transportation still remains a top concern for citizens and Arlington is viewed as a transportation desert.  A solution is needed that serves all segments of the city and is accessible by every citizen. Even though three proposals have been defeated by the voters (1980, 1995, 2002), I think it is time to put the issue before the electorate again with a well thought out plan that works for Arlington.  Arlington has grown to almost 400,000 in population with a major university and a thriving county college. The need is critical and attitudes have changed. As more people relocate here, we find surprise and even hesitation due to the lack of transportation. Businesses pause in considering locating here due to the lack of transportation for their employees.  Some current employers provide vouchers for Uber or VIA and other transportation options.

Don Warner (D8) – This subject needs a more in depth discussion, that I am willing to provide at anytime in the future. Mass transportation does not pay for itself, therefore, it must be considered in areas of need for improved access to essential services, where sufficient ridership is available. I believe that my plan allows Arlington to meet that need. I would like to see the city look into several options I have developed to better assist our underserved community. I have reviewed the completed transportation advisory committee study but don’t see the focus on the underserved community. I don’t believe there is a need at this time in Arlington for an Arlington Transit System; like DART or Trinity Metro, with all the facilities, personnel and infrastructure. I have mapped out an initial concept using existing regional resources without all the cost of infrastructure, to provide a reasonable initial solution to transportation for the community. I call it the Central City Transportation System (CCTS). This concept would open access to education, wellness and jobs, by connecting the city center to hospitals, Tarrant College SW, UTA, and the entertainment district. I would strongly suggest that this concept be explored as a pilot program as part a of comprehensive transportation information study, leading to a transportation revitalization plan for all modes of transportation, including bicycles, traffic flow etc.
The results of the plan could be prioritized, funded and phased in over time to meet the cities growth patterns.

Joshua Taylor (D8) – I have been very curious as to why our community has gone this long without effective public transportation. There is a clearly a need and demand for public transportation. If elected, I would look to understand the systems put into place by our neighboring cities and comparable cities, and gain information in order to collaborate with the council and constituents in proposing a self sufficient solution for public transportation accessible by the entire city of Arlington, not only in major parts of the city.
Being a priority in a vision of a greater Arlington, I am dedicated to finding a workable system for all to enjoy a healthy convenient lifestyle that supports individual and collective growth in our homes and community. I want to give every individual an equal opportunity to be succeed in the city of Arlington.

Robert Harris (D8) – No response

5. How can the city find and use resources to keep our parks in better shape? What are your priorities for Arlington parks and green spaces?

Jeff Williams (Mayor seat) – I am proposing a recurring increase in Park Operations and maintenance funding in this year’s budget. I am also supporting the addition of a field technician. We do need to increase our park maintenance funding.
However, I am supportive of our Parks Department who were selected as the top Parks Department in the nation. They do an incredible job!
We are working to increase tourism and jobs to bring more money into our city to improve City services such as Parks. And it is working! We are no.1 in job creation and tourism in the Metroplex! The increased revenue will help tremendously! I am a huge park supporter and was President of River Legacy Foundation for 6 years and I will continue to be a champion for Parks. I look forward to working with you on any ideas you may have.

Ruby Faye Woolridge (Mayor seat) – As a member of the parks board I see a big issue is that the city is cutting Parks Department funding by 4% every year forcing the department to do more with less. As Arlington aims higher, we will increase the funding for and properly staff the Parks department to maintain and creates new parks and green spaces for families.

Ashton Stauffer (Mayor seat) – No response

Chris Dobson (Mayor seat) – No response

Marvin Sutton (D3) – Parks and green spaces are beneficial for our community.  These areas help us decompress from our day to day stresses and is environmentally friendly toward our planet. There is a demand in Arlington for more parks.  My priority would be to increase the development of parks and green space through Arlington and use recycle material and energy efficient equipment in the overall design.

Roxanne Thalman (D3) – No response

Cyndi Golden (D4) – We have a good park system… Our park system was voted number 1 in the nation. I would like to keep working in a positive direction with the parks department. My priority is actually to get citizens engaged in using the parks. Out of all our beautiful parks most are visited infrequently by the people that live here. Some ideas I’ve thought of would include, fishing lessons for kids and parents, kite flying classes, botanic tours, townhall meetings in the park. If folks knew how nice the park system is they might enjoy our city more. I would also like to see an initiative to promote butterfly and bee habitats by using native plants which attract pollinators.

Teresa Rushing (D4) – No response

Andrew Piel (D4) – No response

Ignacio Nunez (D5) – I am naïve to to this issue.  I do not know where to look to find and use other resources to keep and maintain our parks.  I would hope that during the budget process that enough funds are available to do this. Does our Park and Rec Board of volunteers have input into this process?
I would prioritize to continue to ask our developers to create Green Space in their developments, create more Parks as our population grows and spend wisely to keep them clean and beautiful.  

Celia Morgan (D5) – We are greatly reducing the amount of green spaces in Arlington with rapid development in an effort to accommodate a growing city- but we should be working to preserve the spaces we have left, and reverse the absorption of greenspace where possible. There are great ways to utilize our parks and green spaces to meet intersectional challenges across the city as well. Community garden funding for food desert neighborhood, park revitalization grants, rebate programs for responsible development that incorporates greenspace preservation. I’m willing to work with eco friendly development leaders and environmental groups to determine other possible remedies as well.

Kennedy Jones (D5) – No response

Andy Prior (D5) – No response

Barbara Odom-Wesley (D8) – My top priority regarding parks and green spaces is equal access for all.  As a member of the leadership impact council for Texas Health Resources (THR), we are studying social determinants for health.  We have learned your zip code is a greater predictor of your health status and longevity than your genetic code. I would like to see Arlington work to reduce and even eliminate health disparities by insuring equal access to healthcare, and amenities such as parks and other facilities that promote physical activity and a healthier lifestyle.   

Don Warner (D8) – Arlington has some of the best parks in the metroplex and received several nationally recognized awards. The city uses grants and taxes effectively. I have visited many of the existing and newly developed parks and found them to be well maintained. The department spends in excess of 17m for overall operations.
Maintaining the parks should be a priority along with all services. Adding new green space, trees and water retainage systems should be a priority in new construction.

Joshua Taylor (D8) – Right now I believe there is not enough promotion to the residents of Arlington of how great Arlington parks and green spaces are, and the blessing they are and can be. One of my priorities in embracing the new age of technology, is to develop a much needed app, easily accessible to our residents in app stores.
Effective marketing of our parks and green spaces in a way that provides an incentive for taking advantage of these resources. I believe it all begins with true Unity in the community, and in embracing that, I believe that we can promote community togetherness in effectively maintain and preserve our parks and green spaces here in the city of Arlington.

Robert Harris (D8) – No response

Denton City Council Elections – Survey of candidates and voting info

Election Information

What district am I in?
Look up your voter district by selecting the Locate My Voter District button under Election Resources. For additional elections information, including voter registration, voter ID requirements, and precinct information, please visit the Denton County Elections website at Questions can also be emailed to or call (940) 349-7718.

Where do I vote early for the May 4, 2019 City Council Election?

Early Voting will be held April 22 – April 30. Registered voters may vote at any early voting location.

Early Voting Location Address
University of North Texas Greek Life Center 621 S. Welch St.
Denton Civic Center* 321 McKinney St.
Denton County Elections Office 701 Kimberly Dr.
Robson Ranch Club House 9428 Ed Robson Cir.

* Note: The Civic Center will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 26 and CLOSED on Saturday, April 27 due to the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival.

Where do I vote on Election Day for the May 4, 2019 City Council Election?

Election Day is May 4, 2019. Registered voters may only vote in the district in which they are registered. Look up your voter district by selecting the Locate My Voter District button under Election Resources.Look up your voter district by selecting the Locate My Voter District button under Election Resources.

Election Day Voting Locations Address
District 1
Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center 1300 Wilson St.
Pecan Creek Elementary School 4400 Lakeview Blvd.
District 2
North Branch Library 3020 N. Locust St.
Denton I.S.D. Annex 230 N. Mayhill Rd.
District 3
North Lakes Recreation Center 2001 W. Windsor Dr.
University of North Texas Greek Life Center 621 S. Welch St.
Fire Station No. 7 4201 Vintage Blvd.
Robson Ranch Club House 9428 Ed Robson Cir.
District Four
Denia Recreation Center 1001 Parvin St.
L.A. Nelson Elementary School 3909 Teasley Ln.

Denton Candidate Questionnaire on Environmental Issues

This candidate questionnaire was put together by Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund and Denton Drilling Awareness Group. Responses were requested from all candidates. Only one candidate, John Ryan, did not respond to this questionnaire.

1. What would you propose to the Denton Development Code to address economic, social, and environmental costs associated with climate change? How can the city be a leader in reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring a more equitable future for our most vulnerable populations?

George Ferrie (D1) – Denton’s Development Code is currently being updated to reflect the growth of our city and will include several environmental solutions. My hope is that the Code provides a variety of solutions such as requiring new commercial properties to install water bottle filling stations and solar panels in an effort to lower their carbon footprint. Outside of the Development Code, I would also like to see the city install their own electric car charging stations at public parks and other city-owned destinations to increase the feasibility of electric cars for Denton residents. I also want to ensure that all city-owned properties utilize eco-friendly paper products to cut down on waste. Lastly, I would like to see Denton reinvest in community garden projects and our community market to produce local sustainable farming which can dramatically lower greenhouse emissions. These are a few ideas of many that could extensively improve Denton’s current environmental state to ensure that we have a safe, livable and enjoyable community for generations to come.

Gerard Hudspeth (D1) – The building code should reward and encourage more green building standards. This is already happening, by way of example the new Embassy Suites hotel is a LEED Gold certified building.  Another example, Habitat for Humanity homes are now built with spray-foam insulation to save energy.  The code needs to reward green energy construction.


Keely Briggs (D2) – Smart Development. Main thing is to Use and protect landscapes we have and not infringe on our sensitive areas.  Not build in flood plain. We made some updates to allow points for roof top gardens to help with insulation, living walls. Allowing gardens with fresh food to be in neighborhoods. In area of water conservation, not requiring as much turf grass. We also added rain water catchment systems, xeriscape/ low water plants to landscape design and incentivized it by not requiring sprinkler systems which can be very costly.  Make sure multifamily has space for 2 large containers in initial development plans. Incentivize electric vehicle infrastructure and alternative transportation infrastructure by, reduce parking requirements in development. There is much, much more to do. We have other programs and grants to help make energy efficient upgrades but that isn’t in DDC.

Jesse Davis (D3) – Getting serious about climate change in Denton has two parts–reducing our impact and planning for the future. Reducing our impact means more residential and commercial solar incentives and rules that encourage developers to build green (sustainable materials, efficient design, etc.) Planning for the future means recognizing that our average annual rainfall is projected to drop 71% by 2050. We have to provide incentives for sustainable landscaping and xeriscaping.


Diana Leggett (D3) – First and foremost would be providing convenient and economical ways for people to move about the city without their cars.  Hailable on-demand green vehicles – especially important for our most vulnerable population – along with establishing connected green space bike and pedestrian trails throughout the City will go far in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring people together.  Public and convenient transportation is key.  Phasing our street lights over to solar powered and investing in alternative methods of building including alternatives to concrete sidewalks creating a permeable surface for percolation to occur.  By embracing solar, wind and geothermal energy alternatives everybody wins as new jobs and technologies are brought into our economy.  Green homes – along with green roofs – will reduce utility bills and lessen our carbon footprint.  Preserving our tree canopy greatly reduces air pollution while clustering homes in new developments will help create open natural land and greenspace.  Denton is poised to be the leader in going green and sustainable.

Matt Farmer (D3) – According to our city’s latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, the three biggest sources of harmful greenhouse gas emissions in Denton are waste, transportation, and electricity. Therefore, there are several areas we really need to focus on, and there are a variety of ways this can be done. Considering how much our population is anticipated to grow in the next 5-10 years, we must expand our public transportation system, mandate recycling, and provide more composting options to businesses and residences. We must also increase our city’s walkability, along with our bikeability; there are too many major roads in Denton that don’t have sidewalks, and there are so many streets that could add protected bike lanes. If we can encourage more people to drive less often, we can significantly decrease our carbon footprint. As developers continue to set their sights on our town, we must commit to preserving Denton’s green space, protecting and augmenting our tree canopy, and ensuring that there is sustainable functionality to our future infrastructure projects. Environmental stewardship should be a priority in every facet of our growth and development— not an afterthought.

Emily Meisner (D4) – The city of Denton has a great number of partnerships in place to help improve air quality and reduce GHG emissions.  However, I feel that adding more environmental tax-incentives for citizens and developers would be a great implementation to enhance and maintain sustainability. We could offer a more streamlined process that benefits citizens to add sustainable infrastructure.  For example, those that install solar panels should be given fair rates for the wattage they generate. The city could implement solar panels on all city buildings. Developers could be encouraged to voluntarily increase reverse setbacks for vulnerable populations.  We do have a good tree rebate program for citizens already in place. I’ve utilized it myself for my own home. I only wish more people knew about it and utilized it to its fullest potential. When the City reviews potential new developments we should preserve existing tree canopies and natural resources, while also bringing in policies that encourage new growth to build in a eco-friendly manner (xeriscaping, drought resistant landscaping, more green space and pervious areas).  As we move toward 100% renewable in 2020 we should look at every decision we make through the lens of how it will impact our environment and future citizens. Our commitment to keeping our city healthy and safe while protecting our natural resources should be at the forefront of every decision regarding growth.

2. Are there any aspects of the gas well ordinance that you would change? Why? If not, why?

George Ferrie (D1) – Yes. I think it is vitally important to increase the current gas well setbacks to ensure all Denton’s citizens are protected. Furthermore, I would also like to see policy enacted to require developments and property owners to inform residents when they are looking to purchase or rent a space within a certain distance of a gas well. Residents have a right to know, and should be required to sign a notification acknowledging they were properly informed on the mater.


Gerard Hudspeth (D1) – Yes, it is practical to review all city ordinances on a regular basis.  Scientific studies and reporting continues to get better.  The City Councils’ role it to protect its citizens.  The gas well setbacks should be consistent with the latest industry standards and updated regularly.



Keely Briggs (D2) – Yes, there are things I would change.  Our Gas Well Ordinance was written with fear of lawsuits not the intent to protect our residents. We need to review it.




Jesse Davis (D3) – I support 1000-foot setbacks and reverse setbacks across the board, where legally possible.




Diana Leggett (D3) – Yes.  The current ordinance allows for a 250 foot setback or a 1,000 foot setback – ambiguous at best.  The scientific studies are in and there is no question now about the health risks associated with residences in close proximity to gas wells.  When the science shows that proximity can produce everything from asthma to cancer to fetal death I think we are done questioning.  If the land where the gas well exists does not support the ability to build residences then utilize it for something else – commercial or industrial.


Matt Farmer (D3) – Right now, a significant number of people in our community live near gas wells, but are completely unaware of it— in fact, Texas has the highest number of residents living near active wells. Research consistently shows that living near a gas well leads to a variety of health risks, including cancer, asthma, and even neurological problems. I believe our residents should not only be informed of nearby gas wells, but should also be informed about these health risks, along with precautionary measures in case of an emergency. In regard to our current gas well setback distances, I believe the reverse setback distance should be bumped up to 1,000 feet. It doesn’t make sense that existing homes, apartments, schools, and other “protected uses” are required to be 1,000 feet away from gas wells, while new developments can be built a mere 250 feet away. Everyone in our community deserves equal protection from the dangers and health risks posed by these gas wells.

Emily Meisner (D4) – Yes, there are several aspects of the gas well ordinance I would change to promote citizen safety and health. As you know, reverse setbacks dictate how close new homes and businesses can be built to an existing well. I would like to see increased setbacks and reverse setbacks to at least 500 feet, preferably more.  We currently only have 250 ft. minimum reverse setbacks and studies have shown that health risks increase under 500 ft. Then there are the safety concerns associated with the close proximity to gas wells such as leaking, migrating gas and possible explosions.  I would also like to see setbacks and reversed setbacks be increased even more for vulnerable populations. These “protected use” sites, such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers and daycare’s only have a 1,000 ft setback. The city should also encourage developers to increase the reverse setbacks out of the best interest of the residents.  Taking care to keep our citizens safe and healthy is my top priority.

3. Denton has filed for an expansion of its landfill to grow over 200 feet high. Right now, over 35% of annual trash disposal is coming from outside cities and businesses. What kinds of programs and policies would you consider to reduce trash volumes at the Denton landfill? Would you consider any recycling or composting mandates for businesses or apartments?

George Ferrie (D1) – Yes, absolutely. All apartment complexes and multi-family dwellings within Denton should be required to provide onsite recycling if they exceed a certain number of tenants. Next, I would like to see the city partner with multi-family developments and single-family communities to provide composting onsite which the city would pick up and distribute appropriately. We should also provide all Denton residents, whether renters or homeowners, with information regarding appropriate and effective recycling and composting habits to ensure everyone is aware of all available services. I also think our city should stop accepting trash from outside businesses and cities and focus on how we can begin to reduce our waste.

Gerard Hudspeth (D1) – The outside cities usage of the landfill has already been addressed and 35% figure is likely no longer accurate.  The Council decided to stop accepting ‘obviously’ contaminated recycling bins.  The solid waste department continues educate all customers and that has increased the amount or recycled material and increased the quality of the recycling.  The focus on reducing and recycling must continue to be a priority.


Keely Briggs (D2) – We already raised the price we were charging outside entities to use our landfill. I hope to significantly reduce the outside agencies from use so we have more control over what comes in and where it goes. Programs I am in support of: Residential composting, Recycling education, Multifamily recycling, and grow our re use store and make it more widely known.  Best way to keep trash out is not create it- a reuse campaign is also needed. We are seeing a positive impact and reducing greenhouse gases from our programs. If we grow in a positive way we can reduce them even more.

Jesse Davis (D3) – The only way to meaningfully reduce trash volumes is to provide more incentives and opportunities to recycle. Recycling in Denton in 2019 ought to be easy and free. Can you tell I’m the militant recycler in my house? I also support residential and commercial composting, but compostable material is a drop in the bucket compared to non-biodegradable, recyclable trash. Commercial waste producers (offices, apartments, etc.) will always respond better to incentives than to fines or unenforceable mandates.


Diana Leggett (D3) – Expansion permit or not, the City expects the landfill to last at current rates for another eighteen years, and by that time landfills will be obsolete. At least I certainly hope so – but only if we engage our citizens and make recycling even more a part of our everyday culture. With the advent of waste-to-energy, de-contamination of recyclables and a more educated and engaged public what goes into our landfill will become a product rather than something we bury.  Sorting at the curb with an extra bin for organic compost, establishing more recycling stations around our city, reducing the amount of food waste at our schools, enhancing and creating more opportunities for the reuse of construction materials are all integral parts of reducing the need for our landfill use.  Give businesses/commercial incentives to recycle and a reduction in their bin pick-up.  All apartments should be required to recycle and the appropriate bins provided.  By increasing recycling stations you also give people the choice to recycle at home or at a station.

Matt Farmer (D3) – Several cities around the nation have implemented recycling and composting mandates in order to cut back on their overall greenhouse gas emissions. Since our businesses and residents already have the resources to recycle, mandating recycling would be a good first step. However, with 44% of our waste being compostable, I’d love to see our city provide curbside composting options for businesses and residences. There are several different ways we could go about it, but right now our city isn’t even having that conversation. If we can afford to spend money on expanding our landfill, which will only worsen our greenhouse gas emissions as we grow, we can afford to expand our composting programs as well.

Emily Mesiner (D4) – I would encourage and incentivize recycling to all citizens, businesses and corporations.  Let’s teach homeowners and businesses how to recycle more efficiently by strictly adhering to the guidelines.  At a recent city council work session I learned that a certain percentage of Denton’s residents recycling gets put into the landfill due to contamination and including wrong products.  If we could educate more people to proper recycling principles that would be a step in the right direction. Look for new efforts in “Recycling Contamination Prevention” to begin on March 1st. Our community has good intentions but just needs a little more help with more education & reminders.  I would also like to see a pilot program for apartment recycling with on-site recycling. If we can determine this to be cost effective we could implement recycling to other apartments.

4. What should Denton do to improve transportation accessibility for its residents and visitors?

George Ferrie (D1) – First and foremost, we, as a city, need to ensure existing transportation options, such as cycling, are safe and then expand these options further. These include having clearly marked bike lanes on major roads and population dense areas. I have spoken with several cyclist who have recounted many terrifying moments when biking through the streets of Denton. By ensuring these passageways are safe, cyclists would be more included to utilize their bike as a more cost-effective way to travel. We also need to ensure that we have adequate lighting in areas where foot traffic is common to ensure safe passage for walkers, cyclists and motorists. By ensuring that members of our community feel safe when traveling without a vehicle, we can reduce our carbon footprint with in the city. We also need to ensure that public transportation is safe and feasible for all citizens. With all of the new developments going up across town, we need to require that we are also providing covered, seated bus stops so that each and every citizen in Denton has access to the transportation they need. We should be mindful of ADA needs in our city, specifically when we are talking about historic buildings. There are plenty of small, inexpensive steps that can be taken to be more inclusive to all communities that make up our great city.

Gerard Hudspeth (D1) – Talk to the citizens and visitors that utilize the transportation service.  Ask for their feedback and act on that usage data.  The City Council members and staff should utilize the transportation service to gain a firsthand understanding of our citizens’ experience.  The City Council is set to spend over $21 million dollars on infrastructure and that focus on infrastructure should continue annually.


Keely Briggs (D2) – Have a better working relationship with our public transportation agencies so our community needs are addressed. Build complete streets with safe alternate use infrastructure.




Jesse Davis (D3) – Denton (as a leader in the DCTA) needs to take a hard look at point-to-point and ride sharing programs. Other cities have had some success with replacing half-empty buses on routes nobody needs with Uber and Lyft contracts. These aren’t a replacement for good bus routes, but a “both/and” solution.



Diana Leggett (D3) – A more robust light rail coupled with hailable, on-demand green vehicles, frequent and convenient “small” green transit buses connected by bike and pedestrian trails are attainable and smart business.  Connecting our outlying neighborhoods together with a series of multi-modal pathways will provide much needed alternatives to people not just wanting to visit Denton but enhance the lives of Dentonites.  People moving should be safe and accomplished with ease with Denton being at the forefront of accessibility and process/design innovation.

Matt Farmer (D3) – Frankly, we need to allocate more of our budget to public transportation. There are many residential parts of the city that are nowhere near a bus route. Many of the bus stops we do have are not ADA compliant. Many stops don’t provide weather protection. Our current routes often require transferring between multiple buses, which makes ride times unnecessarily long, and certainly doesn’t inspire people to use the system in general. If we want to get serious about increasing ridership for our public transit, we have to make it easy for our community to navigate the system. We need to approach these fixes holistically, and quickly— we can’t afford to wait on this. The congestion on our streets is already bad enough, and it’s only going to get worse in the coming years. Furthermore, transportation alone produces a significant portion of our city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Investing in our public transit will make our air cleaner, it will alleviate our traffic problems, it will boost our local economy, and ultimately make our city safer.

Emily Mesiner (D4) – Denton should improve all sidewalk connectivity to support & encourage walking, biking and equal access to bus stops for all, including persons with disabilities. When developers come in let’s make sure the neighborhoods are actually walk-able and connected to local business and parks.  We already encourage our citizens to ride-share and utilize public transit like DCTA and the A-Train, which are great.  Finally, adding more connected bike lanes around the city would promote biking and improve safety for our residents as well as promote Denton as a walk-able, bike-able, environmentally sustainable place to live.

Dallas Takes a Huge Step toward Universal Recycling

TCE Blog
By Corey Troiani, DFW Program Director

On Monday, May 14th a committee of seven Dallas City Councilmembers voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that would require all apartments to begin recycling programs by January 1, 2020. The ordinance is scheduled for a full City Council vote next month, on June 13.

Recycling advocates applauded the committee members as they made the decision to take this important step toward universal recycling in Dallas.

The decision is monumental—more than half of Dallas residents live in multi-family buildings, and it’s past time that everyone had access to recycling programs. These city officials deserve our deep appreciation for their courage and leadership in moving our city closer to its goal of Zero Waste.

Along with the vote to approve the multi-family recycling ordinance, committee members also agreed on a plan to develop non-residential commercial recycling requirements. This would bring recycling services to office buildings, businesses and other commercial properties within the city. The current timeline to develop this recycling ordinance extends to early 2019 before the policy is drafted.

Councilmember Scott Griggs noted that the stakeholder engagement process worked especially well during the past three months in getting interested parties—including Texas Campaign for the Environment and the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas—to agree on the ordinance language. Griggs suggested that the proposed timeline for commercial recycling requirements might move more quickly if stakeholders are identified and engaged with as soon as possible.

Texas Campaign for the Environment submitted policy recommendations that agree with Griggs’ suggestion and aim to draft the commercial ordinance by the end of 2018.

Finally, committee members considered a third solid waste and recycling issue: the residential bulk and brush collection program. Since 2016, the committee has considered changes that would enable city staff to recover more organic materials from the residential waste stream, like grass clippings and tree branches. The city currently allows residents to put all of these materials out for collection together every month. Most of the compostable material is simply landfilled since it’s too difficult to separate it from the bulk trash, which often includes bagged trash, sofas, washing machines, and so on. Now city officials are finally moving to require separate collection so all the brush can be mulched or composted instead—which will divert tens of thousands of tons of organic materials from the landfill every year. The full City Council will consider this proposal in June as well.

As zero waste advocates, we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of this meeting. A big thanks is due to council members and staff who invested their time and support in these policies. Be sure and let them know—and stay tuned for the final decision next month!

Send your message to City Hall!

Corey Troiani
DFW Program Director

Dallas “Dashboard” Lowers Bar for Recycling, Barely Clears It

TCE Blog
By Corey Troiani, DFW Program Director

The Dallas 365 Dashboard presents a great opportunity for the city to relay data on its progress in many policy areas, but if the city is serious about tracking its progress on waste reduction, then it needs to measure the numbers that matter.

With regard to solid waste and recycling services, the Dallas 365 Dashboard tracks two sets of data: 1. Tons of residential recyclables collected (total weight collected from blue recycling bins in neighborhoods), and 2. Missed refuse and recycling collection per 1,000 service opportunities (rate of missed collection of your trash and recycling). Nothing on the Dallas 365 Dashboard gives us any indication of our progress on reducing our waste generation outlined in the city’s Zero Waste Plan.

While it is important to measure residential recycling rates in single-family neighborhoods, focusing on only “Blue Bin” recycling without context creates an illusion of progress. Here’s the numbers that were left out:

  • Multi-family residential trash – 529,000 tons per year
  • Commercial, and other non-residential trash – 1,251,000 tons per year
  • Single-family residential trash (gray bins) – 233,000 tons per year
  • Single-family residential bulk and brush waste – 150,000+ tons per year

Add all of that up and we’re looking at 2,163,000 tons per year that is completely ignored by the city’s Dashboard. Put another way, the city is tracking less than 3% of its overall trash and recycling weight.

Now, here’s the worst part. According to the 2013 Dallas Zero Waste Plan, we are supposed to have a citywide recycling rate of 40% by the year 2020. The annual goal on the Dashboard sets the bar—57,615 tons—far too low for blue bin recyclables. According to the city’s own statistics from 2015, the Dashboard goal represents status-quo growth in residential recycling.

I would argue that the annual residential “blue bin” recycling tonnage goal should be 75% higher, or about 100,826 tons. Feel free to check my math below:

On February 26, 2018, the Sanitation Director Kelly High told city officials that the current residential diversion rate is 20%. About three-fifths of that comes from the blue bins and the remaining two-fifths comes from brush and yard trimmings collected from the curb. The Sanitation Department is working on improvements to the Bulk & Brush collection program to allow them to separate more brush material. They expect these improvements will boost the residential recycling rate from 20% to 31%. (Great—let’s do it!) That leaves a gap of 9% that would need to be fulfilled by an increase in blue cart materials in order to meet our overall 40% recycling goal (see chart). To close that gap, we’d need a 75% increase in current tons collected in the blue carts, an annual goal of 100,826 tons.

All of that said, the Dallas 365 Dashboard would better reflect our Zero Waste Goals by comparing recycled tons with landfilled tons, and representing our goal as a recycling rate percentage. This goal should reflect our Zero Waste Plan benchmark: 40% recycling by 2020. The Dashboard should do this not only for single-family residential recycling and waste, but also for commercial, multi-family and institutional sectors, which are the source of more than 80% of our overall waste.

I fully support the stated purpose of the Dallas 365 Dashboard, but its data and objectives must reflect the actual goals of our city. Let’s fix it.


Corey Troiani
DFW Program Director

Dallas could force apartments, offices to offer recycling

Dallas Morning News
By Tristan Hallman
Original article here

Dallas City Council members don’t want to waste any more time waiting for apartment complexes and businesses to offer recycling programs.

With a unanimous vote Monday, the council’s Quality of Life Committee directed city staff to draft an ordinance within the next two or three months that would mandate recycling programs for multi-family properties. The committee members also want city officials to look at mandating recycling services for commercial properties, but the timeline on such an ordinance was fuzzier.

The committee’s strident push for mandating recycling programs at apartments came a year earlier than a previous timeline called for and after council members reviewed data on the lack of voluntary participation from apartment complexes.

“We call ourselves a well-managed, cutting edge city. A growth city. Lots of new business. Dallas is on fire,” said council member Rickey Callahan. “Well, we need to get on fire with recycling.”

The decision was met without stiff pushback from the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas — which wants to see more details — and with backing from environmentalists such as Trammell S. Crow, the son of the famed late Dallas real estate developer.

“We need strong leadership,” Crow said at a Monday morning news conference. “We need it at the top level.”

Dallas has offered recycling services for single-family homes for years as the city tries to divert recyclable materials from landfills. Commercial property trade associations say the majority of their members are now offering single-stream recycling programs. And hotels are making progress, city officials said.

But apartments have been a recycling wasteland. Danielle McClelland, the city’s Zero Waste program manager, told the City Council’s Quality of Life Committee on Monday that voluntary participation among apartments has “not gone as well as any of us would have hoped at this point.”

Less than a quarter of apartment complexes in Dallas — which house more than half of the city’s residents — offer recycling services. The Apartment Association of Greater Dallas gave a variety of reasons: cost, lack of interest from residents and management and a shortage of space for big blue recycling bins.

Corey Troiani of the Texas Campaign for the Environment said the apartments “haven’t made a good-faith effort” to offer recycling.

The need for apartment complexes and commercial properties to participate is simple, McClelland said: “That’s where the people are.”

The council was due to consider mandating recycling programs in 2019, according to its Zero Waste Plan. But Dallas has been falling short so far on its zero-waste goals, and the situation didn’t figure to improve in the next year.

An ordinance, which would have to be approved by the full City Council, could mandate recycling programs for new construction and phase in existing apartments according to size. Other cities, such as Austin and San Antonio, only mandate recycling for apartment complexes with a certain number of units.

But those minimums are relatively low — five or more units in Austin and three in San Antonio — and Dallas could go a different route. Most of the complexes in Dallas have more than 200 units, and the city could start with mandates in those complexes first and work their way down to smaller complexes during the following years.

Apartment Association of Greater Dallas Executive Director Kathy Carlton said Monday she knew the mandate could be coming. She wants to work with city staff to address some of the potential pitfalls, such as easing parking space requirements to free up space for recycling.

“We more are concerned with some of the devil in the details,” she said.

Council member Philip Kingston said he felt past excuses from apartments didn’t hold water. He said he wants to see “the strongest possible mandatory recycling ordinance.”

But city officials have plenty of other questions to answer. How do they handle the differences with commercial waste? Can the city’s brand-new recycling facility can handle a major increase in materials? Should the city eventually mandate recycling of certain materials? Will the changing market for recycled materials support the stepped-up efforts? What if people still choose not to recycle even with the programs offered? And what will be the added costs for renters already pressured in recent years by rising rents?

White Rock council member Mark Clayton said there may be some reasonable concerns, but “at some point, you just got to tell people, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’”

“It can’t be a, ‘We’ll-get-around-to-it-in-10-years’ approach,” he said.

Fort Worth Recycling Plan Passes with Key Upgrades

TCE Blog
By Corey Troiani, D/FW Program Director

On Tuesday, September 12, Fort Worth City Council voted to approve their 20-year “Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan.” As a result of widespread citizen participation and advocacy, the final document included many more program and policy goals to reduce waste and increase recycling than originally planned.

When the first full draft of the plan was released at the end of 2015, the coalition of advocacy groups including Texas Campaign for the Environment, Greater Fort Worth Sierra Club, and Zero Waste Fort Worth were unimpressed with the low-bar for diversion and lack of programs that address food waste and commercial recycling, especially considering the need and interest in these areas.

For example, the city’s public outreach survey asked residents about their interest in curbside food composting, and despite more than two-thirds of respondents saying they would participate, nothing was included in the initial draft plan. Further, according to the city’s data, commercial industries account for about three-times as much waste generated compared with residents, and no significant programs were included to address the growing stream of waste from these properties.

So, TCE helped draft and signed a coalition letter to the city, and continued to organize in Fort Worth communities through its door-to-door canvass to pressure city officials and staff on making the plan more ambitious. Over the course of about twelve months, TCE generated hundreds of letters to Fort Worth officials. TCE and its coalition partners also met with city staff and urged them to listen to the coalition’s recommendations for the plan—along with the hundreds of residents who have been engaging with their elected officials. The department agreed to consider the recommendations by our coalition and supporters, and pledged to include as much as possible.

At the end of August 2017, the city released the final draft of their long term plan. This version included almost every recommendation our coalition had been advocating for, including:

  • Developing a pilot curbside food composting program for residents (2018)
  • Preparing an ordinance for recycling where people work in the city, i.e. at all businesses (2018)
  • Involving stakeholders and advocacy groups in the plan’s implementation
  • Raising the city’s recycling goal from 40-50% to 60% by 2037
  • Evaluating a curbside collection program for textiles, clothing, kitchenware, furniture and mattresses (2018)
  • Making waste reduction and recycling more competitive by evaluating a raise on landfill tipping fees (2018)

On Tuesday, September 12, the city council listened to a final round of public testimony—all speakers and public comment cards were supportive of the plan—and the council voted unanimously to finally approve it (there were two absences).


Fort Worth is now the second city in North Texas to adopt a long-range resource management plan that puts the city on a path to Zero Waste. As neighboring cities consider how to plan for better resource management in the future, they now have two examples—Fort Worth and Dallas—on how to engage with interested residents, advocacy groups and community leaders. We applaud the efforts of city staff and councilmembers that helped aid in the development of this plan, and we look forward to lending our support in implementing these programs and objectives.

Dallas residents’ voices heard at City Hall: We need recycling in apartments, businesses

Dallas Zero Waste Alliance
By Corey Troiani
Original article here

Texas Campaign for the Environment presented personalized letters from Dallas residents to City Council members during a November 14th committee update on the City’s long-term “Zero Waste” plan to expand recycling. Two City Council members, Philip Kingston and Sandy Greyson, spoke in favor of fast-tracking a universal recycling ordinance if apartments and businesses don’t start recycling programs soon.

It’s been nearly four years since the City of Dallas passed its Zero Waste Plan, following only the City of Austin with the first plan of its kind in the state. While substantial progress has been made in Austin—with a city-wide recycling rate of 42% and the recent adoption of a third bin for residential food composting—Dallas has struggled to implement meaningful programs and policies to break from the rut of a 20% recycling rate.

The City of Dallas Sanitation Department presented its second status update on the City’s resource diversion efforts since the adoption of the Zero Waste Plan in 2013. To put it bluntly, no one on City Council was impressed by the data showing the City had not increased its recycling rate at all in the past four years. But before you start drafting an angry letter to the Sanitation Department, you have to understand that, in a way, their hands have been tied.

The City’s Zero Waste Plan, as approved by City Council, allowed for a 6-year “grace period” to track and measure recycling data, survey commercial enterprises about their waste and recycling programs, and ultimately seek voluntary measures and incentives to encourage businesses to provide recycling for tenants and residents. The Sanitation Department has worked tirelessly to craft creative programs to incentivize recycling participation, but without any requirements for apartments and businesses to recycle, there is only so much that city officials can do to keep Dallas on the path to becoming a Zero Waste City.

As a result, the Sanitation Department presented the Quality of Life and Environment Committee with short term strategies to increase our recycling rate without uttering the word “recycling ordinance.” Many of the Department’s recommendations—like separating residential collection of bulk and brush materials so organic materials can be composted—were sensible and important. But even in their own best case, these initiatives would fall just short of the 2020 goal of 40% city-wide recycling.

The most recent meeting kicked off with representatives from Texas Campaign for the Environment delivering hand-written and personalized letters to the councilmembers from their constituents. The letters were collected through door-to-door canvassing in apartment buildings and homes throughout the city and urged officials to implement recycling in workplaces and multi-family buildings as soon as possible. Several City Council members commented on the importance of public input such as this.

Councilmember Tiffinni Young s summed it up: “Thank you for these letters. It great when we have our citizens who are advocating on different issues.”

Councilmember Philip Kingston expressed his frustration with the lack of progress, saying “I would say that it’s pretty clear from the data you presented that we’re going to be woefully short [of our recycling goal] by 2019. And I know I’m not the only one who has said repeatedly to the Apartment Association, ‘tick tock, it’s coming…’ and the idea that we’re going to do this phase-in after 2019 and maybe get it done by, I don’t know, 2021 or something, is not consistent with what this council adopted in 2013.” Kingston went on to advocate for fast-tracking a recycling ordinance that would result in universal recycling in commercial buildings and apartments. Committee Chair Sandy Greyson followed by saying, “I do remember when we implemented this in 2013, and some folks felt that giving a 6-year grace period for voluntary efforts was too long. So, I tend to sort of agree with Mr. Kingston that … we’ll implement a [universal recycling ordinance] in 2019 if we continue to see the slow, slow progress that’s being made.”

While the City’s residential recycling program has made up the lion’s share of recycling activity in Dallas, this program covers less than half of Dallas residents. Most residents rely on their apartment management to provide a privately contracted service.

Greyson went on to say, if we’re going to be asking residential folks to make major changes [to bulk and brush pick-up] to help us get there, then I don’t think it is unfair to ask the commercial sectors to make … changes so they can help get us there also.”

No committee members spoke in opposition to fast-tracking a recycling ordinance, which remains a good signal for recycling advocates who will continue to persuade other council members to support the policy.

“I forgot to thank Texas Campaign for the Environment for the letters. Having written one … to the Texas Legislature I think these are valuable. If you have a constituent who takes time to do this, then you have some indication of the seriousness with which people take these issues” Philip Kingston said.

Texas Campaign for the Environment and its allies will continue to put pressure on councilmembers to support a universal recycling ordinance (URO) through letter-writing and advocacy campaigns.

You can sign the petition to expand recycling in Dallas here. You can also write a personalized letter to your councilmember and TCE will deliver it to City Hall during their upcoming meetings.

TCE Dallas Address:
3303 Lee Parkway Suite #402
Dallas, TX 75219


Corey Troiani
DFW Program Director

You’re invited to our post-election party in Dallas, but first, VOTE!

TCE Blog
Corey Troiani, DFW Program Director

With all this talk of elections, polling forecasts, and mudslinging in every direction, we wanted to take moment to recognize some encouraging trends in Texas voting. We also want to provide some information that may help you vote with the environment in mind. I’m going to invite you to a post-election party, so read on!


Early voting has already begun in Texas—meaning you could go vote today. If you haven’t voted already: Bookmark this page. Find your polling location and go vote!

Early voting ends Friday, November 4th at 7:00 PM, and then your only other chance to vote is on Election Day, November 8th. While Texas Campaign for the Environment does not endorse any candidates for office, your participation is critical because your vote is one way to influence what happens at the local, state and national levels.


partyforagrapecause_invite_webYou’re invited: Sunday, November 13th (the weekend after the polls close), we’re hosting a house party for TCE, called Party for a Grape Cause. You are encouraged to bring your favorite bottle of wine to enter the wine raffle—winner takes all! There will be other raffle prizes, like local gift cards, wine tastings for you and your friends, and plenty of goodies for you to snack on. We’ve got great sponsorships from some of the best wineries in Dallas and beyond! You can purchase tickets on our website. This election season, no doubt, has many of us pulling our hair out, so join us to kick back and relish our participatory democracy.

Alright, off the soapbox and into the weeds. For the first time in history, Texas has exceeded the 15 million mark for registered voters. This election has seen the largest uptick in voter registration since 2000. Some counties in Texas have done better than others. Harris County saw a 6% increase in registration (which is a huge number of voters in the state’s largest county) and Travis County leads the state with a voter registration rate of 90%! The other good news is the gap between eligible voters and registered voters seems to be closing. After a negative trend since 2004, Texas is back up to about 78% of eligible voter registration.

While history tells us Texas performs poorly in election turnout, we have until November 8th to change the story. There’s a million arguments for why you shouldn’t go to the polls—my vote doesn’t matter where I live, I don’t care for either candidate, we’re all doomed, etc. These arguments aside, here’s two truths about voting: (1) Democracy works best when you show up. 2) This election goes way beyond the next President.

Texas Lawmakers pass an average of 3.5 times the number of bills compared with U.S. Congress. By this measure, they are a much more productive body of government—and when you look at recent environmental legislation, much of it is bad news.

Texans have the opportunity to vote for scores of candidates in State House and Senate elections. You can find out about your state races through the Texas Tribune and see how they compare on the issues through League of Women Voters Texas non-partisan Voters Guide.

Our legislative priorities include reforming the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), the agency that oversees oil and gas, coal mining, and nuclear development in Texas. Last year the agency was granted veto power over local ordinances on oil and gas drilling (see House Bill 40), and during the same year only punished 16% of violations at drilling sites. Elected lawmakers will determine during the Sunset Review process next year whether to make deep changes to this agency or continue business-as-usual. Additionally, one of the three commissioner seats for the Railroad Commission will be on every Texas ballot this November—you can see how the four candidates view changes to the agency on pages 4-5 of the LWV Voters Guide.

We are also working to pass our own bill on household battery recycling. We helped pass similar legislation for TVs and computers in Texas, which has resulted in the collection of over 412 million pounds of electronics for recycling. Our battery bill aims to do the same for the single-use and rechargeable batteries that many of us hoard in our office drawers and garages or throw in the trash because there is so little convenient recycling now.

Another emerging environmental problem TCE will be taking on is sewage sludge. As Texas’ population grows so does our sewage output. Much of the sludge produced in Texas is “land applied”—spread on agricultural lands as fertilizer. As you may have guessed, this sludge can have serious pathogens that cause health problems for neighbors and impact waterways, and it also contains concentrated pollutants like pharmaceuticals, PCBs, phthalates, and antibacterial chemicals like triclosan. TCE wants to keep sludge out of flood-prone areas, to add public protections when the state issues experimental permits for sludge disposal, and eliminate the use of industrial wastes as fertilizer among other protections. We are excited to work with impacted landowners on this crucial issue, a new one for us.

Finally, we will be fighting some big defensive battles at the Capitol this session, as anti-environmental bills inevitably make their way through the Texas House and Senate. The best thing you can do today is make sure you’re educated on the right choices for your state representatives and any local races and get out to vote!

Democracy starts with each and every one of us making a plan and the conscious decision to have our voice heard. Remember: It’s not enough to just RSVP, you gotta show up and vote! So show up!—and after that, show up to our post-election party!

You can get your tickets here. See you there.


Corey Troiani
DFW Program Director

Texas Railroad Commission: Oil and gas proponent or regulator?

tx rrc town hall grapevine invite

Passions were high Tuesday night, at a Town Hall meeting at the Grapevine Convention Center. About 40 community members attended a Town Hall to tell state lawmakers their thoughts on reforming the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC).

Despite its name, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) is the state agency tasked with regulating the $14 billion oil and gas industry in Texas and also oversee coal mining and development, pipelines, and uranium extraction.

Next year, the state legislature will be reviewing the RRC for a third time since 2010. State agencies in Texas are reviewed by a Sunset Commission every decade or so, but the past two RRC proposals failed to lead to any changes. Many community members feel the agency is long overdue for significant reforms on enforcement, regulation, and of course a new name.

Irving residents talk with State Rep. Roberto Alonzo

About 30 community members testified Tuesday night. Many speakers cited a list of changes proposed by the advocacy group Public Citizen. Others spoke more from the heart, like one woman who spoke viscerally of air pollution and a flurry of earthquakes experienced in Irving. Others from Denton spoke of their impacts from fracking near neighborhoods, and wanted the RRC to do more work regulating the industry than promoting it.

When it came time for my speaking spot, I reminded the present lawmakers that Texas Campaign for the Environment speaks face-to-face with Texans in every legislative district in the state, and they would be receiving letters about this issue in the coming weeks and months. Already, North Texans have written 4,000 letters to state lawmakers at the request of TCE canvassers, advocating for substantial agency changes.

Referring to the Sunset Commission Staff Report released earlier this year for the State Legislature, I compared the RRC performance on inspection and permitting to a hypothetical law officer. I will recount my statement because I think it resonated many people in the room.

Imagine for a moment that a state trooper does all his or her administrative duties with great diligence, he or she never makes an error on paperwork, but when he or she is on highway patrol, it is a well-known fact that this law officer writes warnings instead of making arrests for drunk driving 84% of the time! Now, just because this cop does excellent paperwork, does this make them a good cop?

traffic stop side view mirror

Absolutely not! At this point, State Rep. Jim Keffer jumped in, “I’m always one of the 16% who gets the speeding ticket!” Exactly! Honorable Keffer, it isn’t fair to let droves of criminals off with trivial wrist-slaps, certainly if this isn’t their first, second, third or fourth offense.

But that’s exactly what happened with oil and gas inspections last year, 84% of violations did not result in a fine, severance of lease contract, or any punishment. The drilling operators were simply told, “Do you mind fixing this by the time we do our next inspection, two to three years from now?”

Texas Campaign for the Environment is fighting to get common sense reforms passed at the Capitol on the Railroad Commission. Some of these reforms include:

  • Better tracking of violations and repeat violations.
  • Developing a “strategic plan for the Oil and Gas Division that tracks and measures the effectiveness of monitoring and enforcement.”
  • Increasing the bond requirement that funds the cost of plugging and remediation of abandoned wells. Those bonds covered 15.9% of the costs in 2015 – so taxpayers are left paying the bills of industry.
  • Giving the agency the authority to enforce damage prevention rules of interstate pipelines.

While all of this sounds like a tiny pill to swallow, remember that this is the third attempt in six years to reform an agency that sits pretty cozy with lawmakers. Sustained pressure from constituents across the state will be needed to enact meaningful changes in the agency.

We strongly encourage you to write your state lawmakers on this topic. Follow this link to read more about our recommendations and who represents you at the State Capitol. Even better, put Monday, August 22nd on your calendar. The Sunset Commission will be holding a Public Hearing for the Railroad Commission in Austin and the state legislators and public members need to hear from concerned Texans!

The final proposal from the Sunset Commission will be submitted to the Texas Legislature on November 10th. From that date on through next year’s session we will be fighting tooth and nail to pass the strongest reforms on the agency that hasn’t been accountable to the citizens of Texas since, well, they regulated railroads.


Corey Troiani
DFW Program Director

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