District 2

 

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Candidates

Connie Baker
Daniel Clanton
Brian Beck

 

Issues
1. Energy efficiency, weatherization, and resilience
2. Mitigating human-caused climate change
3. Renewable energy and protecting against winter storm price gouging
4. Expanding recycling and food composting access
5. Regional park at the former Gibbons Creek mine lands

 

Survey Responses

1. Energy efficiency, weatherization, and resilience

Question: Weatherizing homes and buildings to be more energy efficient can make our neighborhoods more resilient against inclement weather, reduce pollution that harms our health, and save residents money on utility bills. Increased energy efficiency could also help prevent future outages from severe weather. Do you support creating municipal policies that will hold our commercial and residential buildings to the highest energy and water efficiency standards and increase weatherization in order to eliminate climate and air pollution impacts from buildings? 

Connie Baker
Daniel Clanton
Brian Beck
Yes
No Response
Yes

Question: As a Council Member, how would you work to help increase weatherization and energy efficiency in the community, especially for lower-income residents and people impacted by the February winter storm?

Connie Baker:
I support taking better advantage of our municipal utilities free GreenSense program for energy. I think DME can look into taking that program to a higher level by being proactive. We could also explore options to partner with those willing and able to actually provide home efficiency improvements by helping people recoup those up-front costs over time with the energy savings.

Daniel Clanton:
No response.

Brian Beck:
The City of Denton’s Sustainability department recently updated their comprehensive Sustainability framework to include STAR & LEED energy conservation criteria. This along with the existing GSEER rebate and Education, Outreach, and Training offerings in schools and community events offer the most direct path into increasing residential household weatherization. More broadly, the recent Winter storms demonstrated how susceptible Denton is to so-called “single points of failure” that cascade into large and unfortunate consequences. I would press both DME and Water/Waste-water departments to finalize audits underway. The fact that these audits have already identified “pain points” that need to be fixed suggests that we likely need to audit more often.



2. Mitigating human-caused climate change

Question: Do you believe the City of Denton should prioritize solutions to mitigate human-caused climate change and make Denton more resilient against the impacts of climate change and inclement weather?

Connie Baker
Daniel Clanton
Brian Beck
Yes
No Response
Yes

Question: What will you do to reduce climate emissions in Denton and to make the city more resilient, such as investing in local community solar or weatherizing power plants, against the effects of climate change and extreme weather?

Connie Baker:
Denton needs to recommit to maximizing use of renewables by the City, individuals, and businesses with solar and other partnerships. At the same time, we all need to realize that energy reliability must be the top priority. This includes implementing proper safeguards from weather disasters as best we can without pricing power too high.

Daniel Clanton:
No response.

Brian Beck:
Three areas I would like to explore with DME, the Sustainability office, and Development & Planning are : (1) micro-solar generation both (a) on residential rooftops as is already being done through the rebate program [which, by the way, should be maintained or increased] but also (b) on large surface area commercial rooftops like the mall or warehouses. The potential to continually migrate from fossil fuel sources towards more and more local rooftop generation without requiring additional land-use footprints is particularly exciting. I would also like to explore (2) roof top and vertical green spaces and vertical wall-gardens that not only substantially reduce cooling needs and help absorb carbon emissions, but also simply look beautiful and make Denton a more appealing place to live. (3) A focus on developing urban green-spaces will also go along with focusing the public and developers on maintaining and sustaining our existing natural riparian and upland habitat corridors and green-rights-of-way throughout the city.



3. Renewable energy and protecting against winter storm price gouging

Question: Will you ensure Denton keeps its commitment to using 100% renewable energy (wind, solar, and battery storage) and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels for energy and heating?

Connie Baker
Daniel Clanton
Brian Beck
Yes
No Response
Yes

Question: Denton Municipal Electric paid over $200 million to ERCOT due to price gouging during the February winter storm while many residents were without power or potable water. What will you do to protect DME ratepayers from excessive charges from the February storm?

Connie Baker:
The City had a choice to roll or turn of electricity. We elected to roll in order to keep the citizens safer. We will most likely have an increase, but are trying to ease this over time so our citizens will not be overcharged all at once. I am one of seven Council Members and we work together to make better decisions for our community.

Daniel Clanton:
No response.

Brian Beck:
I completely agree with and support Denton’s lawsuit to prevent so-called “uplift” charges from ERCOT, but this will only go to mitigate additional charges to ratepayers. While a bit of a long-shot considering Texas’ overly favorable treatment of energy producers, in order to mitigate some of the already paid charges, I would support Denton joining with other cities in the Texas Municipal League (TML) to encourage the legislature to create retro-active rate-cap reductions that cover the storm period along with concomitant credits to cities like Denton. Finally, the departure of nearly all the commissioners of the Texas Public Utility Board and the excessive rate caps by ERCOT provide ample demonstration that Texas needs to rejoin the national grid. As such, although again a long-shot, I would also support Denton participating in TML and other efforts to allow cities to break-away from ERCOT and reconnect nationally where possible.



4. Expanding recycling and food composting access

Question: Hundreds of Denton residents have written to the City Council in support of policies that would reduce solid waste by expanding recycling access and addressing food waste. Do you support creating solutions that would bring universal access to recycling and food composting to businesses and residences? 

Connie Baker
Daniel Clanton
Brian Beck
Yes
No Response
Yes

Question: How will you work to ensure that the city reduces its solid waste and increase recycling access over the long term?

Connie Baker:
Denton needs to keep its place as one of the most aggressive and innovative cities in the state in recycling and waste reduction. Multi-family recycling must be revisited to make access easier. That area is our biggest opportunity for big improvement.

Daniel Clanton:
No response.

Brian Beck:
The two lowest hanging fruits would be to expand recycling options to all residential and commercial addresses (including more multifamily) and to allow for both residential and commercial food waste collection for composting, but this would only mitigate some of the waste. Some barriers to zero-waste are that the municipal and infrastructure costs are hidden to businesses and consumers. But throwing everything in the garbage means the City and citizens have to pay in the long run. The EPA has a number of potential tools that cities use, but one way we could mitigate hidden charges is to either upcharge/surcharge commercial waste that could be re-used/recycled but isn’t, or also similarly provide rate incentives when commercial waste is redirected to recycling/re-use efforts. Finally, for city purchases, we need to expand our green procurement programs for office and building products (similar to how we mandate renewable energy sources for our power consumption), and encourage companies with city contracts to do likewise.



5. Regional park at the former Gibbons Creek mine lands

Question: Will you support the creation of a regional park at the Gibbons Creek former mine lands that protects Texas wildlife and history while promoting local economic development and healthier communities?

Connie Baker
Daniel Clanton
Brian Beck
No
No Response
Yes

Question: Additional comments you may have on question 5

Connie Baker:
The sale of this property has been finalized by the City. The staff and Council are always interested in preservation. The City can partner with a non-profit to improve the area of local economic development and healthier communities, but whatever we do will be worked out with our partners at a later date. Therefore, at this time, I cannot support donating the former Gibbons Creek land and generation facility in the the Bryan/College State area. The Council Members will work together to make better decisions for our city and it’s residents.

Daniel Clanton:
No response.

Brian Beck:
Texas has a well-established dearth of regional and state-parks relative to most states, making us less attractive for professionals and professional businesses to move here. These parks not only provide potentially lucrative recreational and play opportunities while contributing to the quality-of-life of Texans, but they also help preserve rapidly dwindling wildlife and floral habitat, preserve historical and pre-historical archaeological sites, and provide outdoor-education opportunities. Economically, Gibbons creek would not only provide recreational opportunities and be a selling point for relocation, but the TMPA is proposing selling the land for ranches and ranchettes at substantially UNDERvalued levels relative to nearby comparables: this is not good stewardship of the tax-payers investments. The better and higher use of this ALREADY government land would be to support the citizens that paid for it in their utility rates. Citizens will never again be able to reclaim this land once we sell it off.


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