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SIPOA Provides Third Annual Voters Guide to Irving Residents

BY IRVING WEEKLY STAFF

Irving, Texas. April 1, 2013

The following questions were sent to all City Council Candidates. The responses are listed numerically by Place and alphabetically by candidate last name for each question.

Question 1: What qualifies you to serve the citizens of Irving as a City Councilperson and what motivates you to run for office?

Place 1
  • Loren Byers: I meet all the qualifications of the City Charter to run for the office. Additionally, I have been active in the community since the 1970’s and have been a precinct chair and election judge since 2000. I believe deeply in Irving as a dynamic city with many assets, great neighborhoods, and a bright future if elected to the council.
  • John Danish: I am a lifelong resident of Irving, and grew up in District 1. I served as your City Councilman from 1987 - 1992, and since served the community in many other positions. Most recently as Irving’s DART representative and current DART Board Chairman, former Chairman of the Irving Planning and Zoning Commission, former member and Chair of the Irving Chamber’s Transportation Committee, founding member and current Chair of the Veterans Memorial Park Committee, Judge and trainer for the Irving Teen Court program, Chair of the ISERVE Committee-a committee to identify South Irving needs and assets. I have also worked with the original organization that provided our program for our shelter for domestic violence victims, served on the board of the Irving Heritage Society, and volunteered in the Arts. I am a member of a local church which my father served as pastor until his death, and a member of the Irving Rotary Club. I bring a wealth of knowledge about Irving as a whole and our District 1 particularly. I am motivated to run because I love where I live and want it to be the best it can be. We deserve the best in City services, the same attention as other areas of the City and a level of excellence in the amenities the City provides our neighborhoods.
  • Luis Reyes: No Response
  • Juan Ronco: I grew up in Irving and have been involved in my community ever since I was in elementary. I attended Irving’s public schools and have been involved in organizations from the Safety Patrol in elementary to Senior Class Co-president of the graduating class of 2005. I’ve seen the progress that Irving has made, the changes that our city has experienced and understand that Irving and my district will continue to progress in the right direction because, I understand our community and have a profound commitment to serve my community. My commitment to the welfare of my fellow citizens will be nothing short of the diligence and commitment I gave my country when I wore my country’s uniform overseas in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I understand the needs of our community and I believe in service to community as this community has given me so much. Working together in unity, I know that we as a community can do more to continue to improve our neighborhoods and city overall. I am honored for the opportunity to be a candidate for City Council Place 1.
Place 2
  • Rene Castilla: Since retiring as Executive Dean from North Lake College South Irving Campus in August 2011, I have been afforded the time needed to fulfill the duties of a city councilman. In addition, I have the interest and desire to serve as your Place 2 City Councilman. Since coming to Irving in 1995, I have been an active volunteer serving on various civic boards and nonprofit organizations which have prepared me well to take on this leadership position.
  • Allan Meagher: I was born in Dallas, TX and raised and lived in Irving my entire life.  I have been active in community and church. I previously served on the Irving Planning and Zoning Commission for 5 years prior to serving on the Irving City Council for 7 years. I understand our issues and the need to make some serious changes at city hall.  Willing to work and willing to listen. I have worked in the transportation industry for twenty five years and understand Irving’s challenges and opportunities.
  • Francis Schommer: I am motivated to run for Council for two reasons. The first reason is to bring awareness to other young adults of the importance of registering and voting in local elections, not just presidential elections. Secondly, it is the responsibility of my generation to have a say in which direction this city is headed, and I am the candidate that will be that generational bridge on the council. I am qualified as a unique representative of the younger generation to reach out to them and get them involved. I do this not with an eye towards changing what we all love about Irving, but that as we go forward into the future, we do not lose sight of where we came from and how we got here.
  • Kensley Stewart:  Being an active observer of City Hall I've watched how some things have taken place. This has motivated me to take the lead. The Citizens of Irving need to know they have someone who will listen to their concerns and allow their vote to reflect the fact that they are listening. Our elected officials from City Hall to the halls of congress, from the schoolhouse to White House need to know, understand, and respect the proper role of government.

    On the city level the proper role of government includes but is not limited to: Police, Fire, water, sewage, trash and streets. After that it should foster the economic business climate where businesses can come, grow and thrive and create the jobs that generate the wages and taxes to pay for those services.

    What is now the carcass of the Entertainment Center is the perfect example of the role of government not being respected. The business plan included "being in the concessions business..." That is the role of business - NOT government.

    I believe I have the appropriate perspective that's needed on Irving City Council. My views are well known and I will always be on the side of the voter and taxpayer.
Place 7
  • Gerald Farris: : My qualifications include serving my first term on the Council and my experience as Planning and Development Committee chair as well as Mayor Pro Tem and previously Deputy Mayor Pro Tem. I have completed the Citizen’s Police Academy, have ridden with bother the Police Department and Fire Departments; accompanied our judge when he arraigned prisoners at the Justice Center; ridden on the back of a trash truck, have spent a complete day riding with animal services; spent all day with code enforcement. Those are just some of the things I have done to become familiar with the workings of our city. I am motivated by my desire to move Irving forward as an attractive place to call home for residents, retail establishments and other businesses large and small.
Question 2: Do you believe that the ordinances for oil and gas drilling are adequate for the City of Irving? What change(s) if any do you envision?
 
Place 1
  • Loren Byers: No. In light of the recent questions being raised about seismic activity and fracking, the unusual amount of seismic activity in north Texas recently, and questions about safety of drinking water as underlined by the UD1 well casing failure, I believe the issue should continually be reevaluated. I am especially concerned the Section 64 requirement of notification within 600 ft of fracturing operations is too limited.
  • John Danish: I do not recall our ordinance having been re-evaluated and updated recently. I believe the scientific research and the practical experiences occurring today require such ordinances need to be regularly reviewed and upgraded. I would be very interested in seeing the City Council undertake that task at the earliest opportunity. It is necessary to protect our citizens and also to make sure the City is doing everything possible to ensure efforts made to drill in Irving are done in safe and legal manners.
  • Luis Reyes: No Response
  • Juan Ronco: In light of the recent Fracking operations in Texas and nearby vicinities, I believe that there should be more concern to these issues especially if oil and natural gas drilling are indeed causing environmental change and tremors in Irving. I do recommend that if any drilling is to occur near these residences that residents are notified. Nonetheless members of the City of Irving and Texas Railroad Commission are overseeing drilling operations around Irving. Furthermore, I would like to see more transparency in the matters of oil and gas drilling so that the citizens are made more aware.
Place 2
  • Rene Castilla: I believe the oil and gas drilling Ordinance as adopted by the City Council meets the needs of today. Part 1 Development Standards and Building Codes, Chapter 64 Gas Drilling and Production of this ordinance establishes limitations, safeguards, and regulations to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the city and its citizens. I do support a periodic public review of this ordinance as needed.
  • Allan Meagher: They were when I was on the Council, but I don’t know if the have been reviewed or updated recently.  If not, they must be.  In fact, it should be a regular occurrence.  Science gives us new advances all the time.  Experience teaches us what works and what doesn't. 
  • Francis Schommer: Oil and gas drilling revenue could be a large tax item for the City of Irving. As a result, I am all in favor of as much production as we can safely and responsibly allow.
  • Kensley Stewart: I'd like to see the ordinances of other benchmark cities to make surethat ours are adequate and safe.
    Under ARTICLE VIII. - APPEALS/PENALTIES/FEES
    I would like to see a public hearing as part of the appeals process so the public will have the opportunity to learn about the infraction(s) and voice their concerns.
Place 7
  • Gerald Farris: : The ordinance could be considered adequate based on the fact that any permit has to go through a hearing and Council approval. It is not automatic just because an ordinance exists. It also allows that Council can demand greater restrictions and distances from residences, schools, etc. than what is delineated in the ordinance. A change that I would like to see investigated is a requirement for base line air quality readings by a third party before, during and after the drilling began. This would give peace of mind for nearby residents and businesses.
Question 3: Do you think that the City Council should be/has been proactive in setting and reviewing policies regarding these issues: setback from structures, schools, residences; decibel levels for drilling; procedures for waste water disposal; repair of damage caused by gas drilling related vehicles to city streets and roads; possible toxic levels of chemicals in the ground, water, or air related to oil and gas drilling? Please explain your position.
 
Place 1
  • Loren Byers: The city should constantly review their policies and procedures regarding these issues with the highest regard for feedback from citizens directly impacted. The city should have a procedure in place to monitor those citizen’s concerns to modify the policy and procedures.
  • John Danish: It appears the City Council has attempted to be responsible in allowing drilling but also requiring what was established as reasonable regulations. My concern is whether, in light of what we have learned, our setbacks, and separations, screenings, water resource protection, management of roadway damage, and other particulars are at a high enough standard. I believe the City would benefit by a citizens committee, including industry representatives and scientific experts, being appointed to review both our ordinance and current conditions. We need to determine the standard for best practices in this realm today and review how it is applied in our ordinances.
  • Luis Reyes: No Response
  • Juan Ronco: I believe that Irving City Council has been proactive on many of these issues and should continue to improve as resources and time is made available. Nonetheless, I do feel there needs to be more concern for many of Irving public works as they affect the way of life of fellow Irvingites. I understand that as development for a project may have setback there should be commitment to follow through with any project before even proposal of it. Without a doubt, there have been many commendable efforts to replace old street signage, update street lights and other public works. The quality of our resources is treasured and it is obvious when our city takes action that Irvingites are ensured adequate water supply despite water shortages in the summer. The Board of Community Health does provide adequate support and helps identify health issues that may affect our city. Furthermore, I believe the City Council should continue to use what sources are available to ensure a high quality of life for Irvingites. I do believe that the City has shown concern for the development of oil and gas drilling however, should show more concern to the more recent tremors and whether in fact there is a correlation between the tremors and the drilling nearby our vicinities and how it may affect our environment.
Place 2
  • Rene Castilla: I believe the City Council has been proactive in setting Gas Drilling procedures. Chapter 64 Gas Drilling and Production establishes limitations, and safeguards for present and future operations related to exploring, drilling, developing, producing, storing and transporting gas and other substances associated with gas as listed in question 3.
  • Allan Meagher: Absolutely.  We should not wait until problems occur and then try to fix the,, especially in an area that has had as much attention as drilling.  We should be regularly reviewing these regulations and seeking expert analysis of such incidents as repeated earthquakes in areas not known for them, such as Irving.
  • Francis Schommer: The City has been proactive in informing citizens about drilling through public meetings and other avenues, as well as requiring drilling companies to notify residents living near a proposed site. At the same time, the City has been looking for input from citizens to ensure that our codes meet the needs and wants of our entire community. Firm enforcement of the codes created to protect residents is an important part in ensuring we do not infringe on the property rights of nearby residents.
  • Kensley Stewart: Yes, *the city* has done a good job of covering *their assets* in the ordinance. When reading the ordinance Sec IV (Permits) and Sec VI (Operations) and doing a word count we see:
    • level = 31 times all associated with sound
    • tox = 0 times
    • Poison = 0 times
    • Waste = 15 times
    • Chemical = 2 times

      So, as I previously stated, while the city has done a adequate job looking out for its self, I feel the city may have fallen short looking out for its citizens.
Place 7
  • Gerald Farris: Our gas drilling ordinance is in line with what is generally acceptable practices. It can be reviewed and/or changed at the urging of citizens via the Council. It is important ot note here that we protect the City’s right to not allow the State Legislature to erode or remove local municipality’s power to regulate gas drilling requirements at the local level.
Question 4: Would you support an Ordinance to allow the citizens of Irving to determine by public vote the need for “full forensic third party audit” of the City’s financial transactions of $20,000 and above? Please explain
  • Whether you believe the citizens have a right to request such an audit,
  • Whether the citizens are able to determine how much is too much to pay for an audit
  • Why you believe that the citizens of Irving should be allowed or not allowed to vote on this issue.
Place 1
Loren Byers: Definitely, there is no reason not to fully account for the spending of taxpayer’s money. After all, it is the citizen’s hard earned money that was spent.
  • If the cost of anything outweighs the benefit it should be questioned. Again, it is the taxpayer’s money so they should have a say in how it is spent. One sure way is to vote for Loren Byers for Irving City Council Place 1.
    The council is there to represent the citizen’s best interest. Should a majority the voting citizens express their intentions for an action I believe it is the sworn duty of the council to do what they can to make it happen.
  • John Danish: Two things we must consider. First, although the term is often used, “forensic audit” is often misused. This type audit is used when the results are intended to establish a record for a criminal prosecution. Secondly, regardless of what type audit is done, there is the serious consideration as to whether the cost of the process is greater than the transaction being examined. A $20,000 threshold would mean almost every transaction in the City would be subject to a separate audit, forensic or not, requiring a separate cost. That cost would well exceed the cost of the transaction in most instances, as the City engages in scores of transactions in any given fiscal year. The best way to solve the problem that underlies this question is to first, elect representatives who understand how our local government works and what we need to expect from our staff members, and all with whom we do business. I was a very strict Councilmember in this regard when I previously served and would be one again if elected in May. Secondly, we need to make sure all City activities are fully transparent to our citizens. Our budgets need to be fully explained and easy to understand, and easily accessible. Just putting a lot of material online does not necessarily give us all the information available, especially if we are required to file Open Record request for the information we can not find. The City is required to do an annual audit of the entire City organization. If it isn’t sufficient, then whatever process is necessary to get our citizens the necessary information should take place.
  • Luis Reyes: No Response
  • Juan Ronco: I would not support an ordinance to allow citizens of Irving to determine by public vote the need for Third Party Audit of the City’s Financial Transactions of $20,000 and above.  First and foremost, more preventive measures should take place to prevent any and all questionable transactions as there should be more transparency of government in these regards.

    It should not come down to the public having to vote on such audit when honest transactions should take place and permitting the auditing system in place to do it’s duty.        

    I do believe that the citizens should have a say in how much we should spend on a certain project nevertheless as public officials are entrusted to conduct business in a professional matter and are voted to make those types of decisions.
    I believe that the issue should pertain to the city council and that the city council and people should work together to resolve this issue and to fight for preventative measures.
Place 2
  • Rene Castilla: The question may be a moot point. On May 11, 2013 citizens will have an opportunity to vote on Proposition 22 that addresses “passage of ordinances by public vote.” The Citizens Charter Review Committee proposed changes to the City Charter that adds Article XI: Initiative and Referendum. Initiative is the power to propose lawful ordinances to the Council for City Council’s vote or the vote of the citizens at an election. Referendum is the power to require reconsideration of an ordinance by the Council or the citizens at election. Sections 1-8 spells out in detail Initiative and Referendum.
    • Citizens always have the right to petition the city council to take action on issues of interest and concern, including a call of a financial audit that map cash flow, cash transactions and identifying accounting errors. Passage of Proposition 22 is the proposed remedy that strengthens that right.
    • Citizens have every right to express their views before the city council on any and all spending that is viewed as adequate or inadequate, including amounts allocated for third party consultants, contractors and developers.
    • With the addition of Article XI to the City Charter as proposed by the Citizens Charter Review Committee, citizens will have the right through initiative or referendum to require reconsideration of an ordinance or propose a lawful ordinance by council vote or by citizen vote at an election
  • Allan Meagher: The City is required by law to have a full audit of all its finances annually.  As far as individual contracts go the city should always have the right to review the finances of the contract written into that contract.  Audits are part of a select expertise certain trained accountants perform.  Forensic audits are a small but serious subset of audits and are used when there is the expectation some legal charge is imminent.  The cost of audits is set by auditors and the city reviews proposals to choose auditors. We have to be careful we are not spending more than we save on our efforts.
  • Francis Schommer: Government in this country is “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” and as such, citizens clearly have the right to request any such audit. Officials are elected in the community to administrate various issues on behalf of the community such as in scheduling or arranging an audit. The City might decide that the cost is too high to justify a forensic audit, but a petition for a voting initiative that demands such an audit would of course be a mandate from the citizenry for the City to find a way to do it. After all, it is the money of the taxpayers that is being spent by the City and the taxpayers have a right to demand a third party accounting of the money.
  • Kensley Stewart: I would be strongly in favor of a “full forensic third party audit” on transactions when the need is discovered.

    While serving on the 2013 Charter Review Committee I introduced and was able to get passed a requirement for an audit clause on behalf of the city for all contracts with reimbursable expenses. If passed by the voters no contract involving reimbursable expenses will be a legal contract without such a clause.

    The part I failed to get consensus on was the ability of the CFO, City Manager or City Attorney having the ability to independently review the reimbursable expenses and supporting documents rather only the City Council or their designee.
     
  • YES
  • The citizens have a financial stake in the city and the contracts with the city and as such should have a voice in determining this.
  • Also while serving on the Charter Review Committee I introduced and was able to get passed Voter Initiative and Referendum, so YES, I am in favor of the voters having a say in what happens at City Hall.
If City management won't do it... and, If the City Council won't do it...LET THE PEOPLE DO IT!!!
 
Place 7
  • Gerald Farris: My first thought is the question as to the citizen’s desire to drill down to this level of micro management. Especially for an amount as low as $20k. I certainly support the citizen’s demand for accountability of city contractors and vendors. However,we may want that motivation to be based on the magnitude of the outcome or benefit of such an audit rather than a specific dollar amount of the contract. We may be better served in adopting charter wording or other policy that triggers such an audit based on specific criteria. This keeps it in a practical minded perspective and avoids political motivation.
 
Question 5: Would you support an ethics resolution as a standard for the city council and staff?
 
Place 1
  • Loren Byers: The city council and staff should be accountable and the city’s code of ethics should be adhered to and enforced.
  • John Danish: The City Council currently has an Ethics Policy. I believe we should continue to have that policy. The employees of the City of Irving have a set of standards developed years ago and all employees are expected to abide by them. If these standards have been removed, they should be reinstated. Finally, there is specific state law governing elected officials and city employees in Texas and all our council members and staff and employees must abide by it.
  • Luis Reyes: No Response
  • Juan Ronco:  I do support an ethics resolution as a standard for the city council and staff. I believe that any public servant who takes the initiative to serve the public good should be held to a high standard of conduct, morals and values. Furthermore, the people deserve that, it is their right to know their leaders and to keep them in moral check. As any leader should, a leader should set the example for the common good. This system would furthermore provide an ethical, competent and honest government that the citizens of our community deserve. They deserve to know that their leaders are serving them to the fullest. I believe in duty, commitment and serving the people
Place 2
  • Rene Castilla: At present, an ethics policy is under review by the City Council.
  • Allan Meagher: The city council has an ethics policy.  I support keeping it.  Legal standards are set for council and employees by state law.  Work standards for employees are set by the city manager.
  • Francis Schommer: I would absolutely be in favor of requiring every City Council member and staff to swear their adherence to the existing City of Irving’s Code of Ethics adopted in 1994. I would like to see every City employee live by those ethics, because the citizenry has a right to demand ethical behavior from their employees.
  • Kensley Stewart: I'm on record calling for strong ethics policy. I implored the council to not be afraid of a strong ethics policy and that if they shirk that they may feel it at the polls for their next election. 2 of the 2 who voted against it are now not seeking re-election.

    The policy needs to be stronger on Council members, boards, committees and management than for staff. The Charter Review Committee passed an Ethics Policy. The Council (Rose, Roy, Mike and Dennis) removed the portion (that I proposed) which would allow a simple majority (5) to add an item to the policy but require a super majority (7) to remove an item.
Place 7
  • Gerald Farris: I support a revised ethics policy for council and boards. However, public support waned with time and an initiative to revise the ethics policy failed to get Council approval after a year in the making. In retrospect, it may have succeeded had we been more swift. This process drug out too long and lost traction with time.

    The City has a resolution that was passed in 1994. It supports ethical practices for civic boards and council members. I acted as chair of a Council Ethics Committee, which was appointed by Mayor Van Duyne late 2011. The three member committee had the task of revising the 1994 Ethics Resolution. We thoroughly considered every aspect of ethics while engaging in a third party consultant to assure objectivity. Input from boards and community was critical of the resulting long and complex drafted document. Thus the matter eventually went back to committee for further simplification in the fall of 2012.

    The second series of committee meetings were open to all Council rather than an appointed few. Subsequently only myself and one other council member chose to participate. Although this was all the while an open process, the changes to the ethics policy ultimately failed Council approval with a 4 to 5 vote despite careful consideration. Current Council members voiced that they distrusted the meeting process despite the deliberations being open in which on occasion even public attended. Another critic remarked that the ethics policy should be purely aspirations as they claimed is the 1994 version. This is not accurate. Points 9 and 10 of he current policy are clearly points of procedure and operating policy. Other criticisms voiced displeasure of spending money on outside counsel fees. Although on one like to spend money unnecessarily, this could have been brought up as a concern during the process by its critics instead of waiting until after the dollars were spent. It wasn’t until 18 October 2012 in an email that a council member questioned the fees paid to the outside law firm after 10 months of engagement and less than 2 months before the council vote on the revised resolution.

    I leave it for one to draw their own conclusions as to the aversion of this Council to adopt a higher ethics standard for Council and Board Members.
    Staff ethics is addressed by the employee policies and procedures.
Question 6: In talking to citizens, we have noticed that there are teens in our community who have no permanent residence. They continue to attend school and seek an education. What should be our direction and attitude toward this situation?
 
Place 1
  • Loren Byers: My first choice would be to have community and faith based organizations devise a program to provide for these teens so they can be kept out of the “system” and have basic family values instilled in them during these formative years.
  • John Danish: The economic disadvantages of many of our students is resulting, not only in the homelessness you mention, but in the inability of students to meet the desired standards for academic performance, and to participate in many of the activities that teach them to be responsible well-rounded individuals. All areas of the community must partner together to address this problem. Homelessness is destabilizing to a community, not just the homeless individual. From such a simple thing as the ICE award ceremony I helped develop when a member of the Excellence Now Committee of the IISD, a ceremony allowing students, teachers and parents to showcase themselves at their best no matter their economic status, to the efforts being made today to provide shelters for the students, local people are attempting to solve this problem. I support our working together. The City receives Community Development Block Grants. We can look at that funding and determine if there are ways to partner with the school district or private parties and address this need.
  • Luis Reyes: No Response
  • Juan Ronco: Teens not having a home or place of shelter is unacceptable. Nonetheless, we need to focus on the problem of why our young teens are in this situation and what we as citizens and the city can do to prevent such incidents. Education is key for success, and it is our duty to provide for community’s youth. Irving is the place where we build young minds, where we are supposed to give them hope and set them up for success. This should be on the top our cities priorities. Irving is the home I’ve known all my life where I know I can go to any of my neighbors for their help or support. Irving as I’ve known is a community of open arms and many kind-hearted citizens. Our focus needs to be our youth and studying and investing more time to ramp up preventive measures that would otherwise cause our teens to be left to wander alone. No teen deserves that. We must encourage young teens to go to their schools, address their problems and let the community know. As fellow citizens we must help one another. Furthermore, we need to help fellow teens already in this situation and assist them in finding a home. I know that many of these teens may not have immediate families and I know that many of our citizens have actively assisted these teens and for that I commend them. I will support programs to further assist young teens in these situations and give my full commitment to finding the solutions necessary to take these teens towards success.
Place 2
  • Rene Castilla: There is a citizens group funded through Community Development Block Grants to address the issue of the homeless youth in our community. I support this initiative.
  • Allan Meagher: The city should assist in whatever way possible to keep these young people safe and find residences for them.  we should have staff members whose job is to cooperate with school officials in addressing the problem.  We should use whatever resources we have to locate and provide shelter.
  • Francis Schommer: This city should strive to encourage private organizations to provide as many services to these teens as possible, so these teens are not permanently hindered by their lack of permanent residence.
  • Kensley Stewart:  City staff can and should work with the School Districts, non-profits, charity and volunteer organizations to fulfill this need while keeping within the proper role of government.
Place 7
  • Gerald Farris: This is a complex question with no silver bullet answer. As with similar problems, unfortunately all individuals in this dilemma cannot or will not be helped. The City can continue to work through HHS and support the benevolent associations like the Advocates for Homeless Teens where possible. We as citizens and parents should always hold these matters with high concern. I personally have great respect for those that give of their time to see these kids through trying times.
Question 7: What is your stance on the food to alcohol ratio for Irving?
 
Place 1
  • Loren Byers: I was against it from the beginning but, it is not possible to moonbeams back in the moon so we are going to have to find ways to live with what we. The fact of the matter is we’ve got it, now we have to manage it to preserve our neighborhoods and the family values we all identify with Irving. The original ordinance should have excluded beer and wine retail sales or have required hose establishments to have a 60/40 ratio of merchandise to alcohol. Additionally, I believe we would have been light years ahead if the overlay concept would have been in the original ordinance designating only specific areas of the city where alcohol could be sold----the caveat for that would have necessarily been “with approval of the voters”.
  • John Danish: I supported the 50/50 ratio. Since 1981 the costs of food versus alcohol have changed making our original 60/40 difficult for some restaurants. Additionally, State law has now established 50/50 is the standard for a restaurant. This ratio further allows us to protect our ordinance which has successfully kept bars our of Irving neighborhoods while allowing restaurants to develop.
  • Luis Reyes: No Response
  • Juan Ronco: As the current position stands in Irving with no more than 50% of total revenues in alcohol in majority of restaurants and no more than 70% in Las Colinas Urban Center, I do support the new provisions. I believe in while many of our citizens would like to allow the consumption of alcohol in our city, I do believe that it is vital that while we allow openness to alcohol in our city, that we keep in mind the traditions and values of our community. Irving is community built on family, youth but, on commerce as well. And as we progress over time, we adjust with demographic changes but, that does not mean we have to change completely. Allowing these provisions will allow Irvingites to enjoy a more social life and be a step forward to keeping dollars at home. While the restriction is less in the Las Colinas Urban Center, I do support such provision. While many cities practice in similar process such as Dallas having Uptown, a district with higher alcohol availability, I commend the efforts in Las Colinas to allow that region to become a type of social spot for Irving. And as mentioned, I believe in protecting the family tradition of Irving and that by placing these measures we can still do that while allowing Irvinites to enjoy a social lifestyle right here at home. Nonetheless, we must continue to advocate the importance of not drinking and driving while alcohol is becoming more readliy available in our communities. We must address the importance of citizens driving sober and make it a priority to keep drunk drivers off our roads.
Place 2
  • Rene Castilla: The issue has been resolved by the City Council by providing overlay districts that restrict the sale of alcohol to those overlay districts.
  • Allan Meagher: .I supported the 60/40.  I support the 50/50.  It makes sense, is logical, helps us continue to protect our neighborhoods, and allows restaurants the necessary adjustment for the changing costs of food and alcohol.
  • Francis Schommer: I am perfectly content for where the restrictions are for spirits and hard alcohol, but it would be in favor of rating been and wine differently so more beer and wine can be sold, because they are typically consumed at a meal. Such an allowance would make restaurants happy, while not encouraging bars and other alcohol-focused establishments to flock here.
  • Kensley Stewart:  I am on record of being against the city-wide change and in favor of the change in the Urban Center and LCA only. There was one section of the recent ordinance I was VERY supportive of was placing the city back under the ordinance.
Place 7
  • Gerald Farris: Our most recent council discussion identified that we have a number of regulated areas in the city that can have different alcohol/food ratios besides 60/40. With the identification of these areas, I did not see the need to change the 60/40 ordinances citywide to 50/50. I resolved to consider the benefit in changing to 50/50 citywide that was first being discussed. OR, recognize different ratios in the different areas, which came later after the unexpected recommendation of 30/70 by Planning and Zoning and heavy push by other groups. But I failed to see the need to push both proposals – which we ultimately got a combination of – 30/70 in the Las Colinas Urban Center and 50/50 citywide.

    Irving has to find its own way on important matters like this and stop comparing ourselves to Coppell, Grapevine, and Southlake. The Chamber of Commerce used Grapevine as a comparison, saying “Grapevine is a city ‘hitting it out of the park’ when it comes to economic development”. That is ironic, since they are a 50/50 city and there is evidence that they enforce their ordinance. The Chamber of Commerce heavily promoted 30/70 citywide, using Grapevine as an example. This was WAY off the mark. There are countless factors that go into making a city a great place to live and do business besides alcohol sales.

    What is done is done. Going forward, I am anxious to see the alcohol sales numbers that re reported by our restaurants. I predict that the alcohol debate will be cool for a while.
Question 8: What are your plans and ideas to improve the image and livability of Irving?
 
Place 1
  • Loren Byers: I would like to see the Heritage District program for commercial building fascia improvement and the pilot program for residential homes in the Hospital District expanded to resemble my Exclusively Irving proposal. I would also like to see our southern sector developed as a destination for tourist, entertainment, business and professional office development, ecological business park, and educational center (see http://lorenbyers.com/proposals/ ).
  • John Danish: When discussing this question we are usually talking about South Irving. So that is what I will address: Allowing to bring THEIR ideas into downtown Irving can jumpstart a revitalization of this area. Considering we now have a large debt for the property the City owns, we should begin immediately to have developer meetings to get their ideas on what should be done and how the City can help them get it done. Many studies have already been done and we should utilize the best ideas form them. As well, we must be careful to include current residents and business owners in anything we plan for that area. What hasn’t been done is invite the people who will invest the money in for their views. There is no need to accept the current status of old Downtown or any other portion of South Irving. There are people who want to develop and redevelop. We have a train station in old Downtown. Let’s make it a real stop, providing residential that attracts those who want to live near a train stop, providing retail and restaurant to support that residential and attract the rest of the City, build our Irving Museum to exist nearby our Municipal and Library Complexes and our Veteran’s Memorial Park, and renovate Old Central. As a City we need to better inform our residents of the linkage between South Irving and the Airport, Fort Worth, Dallas, etc. Lastly, we must look at our development stands to make sure they are compatible with what we want to accomplish, both in North and South Irving.
  • Luis Reyes: No Response
  • Juan Ronco: As a lifelong resident of this great city, I will fight to improve Irving’s image; not just for Irvinites but, for residents outside of our district to see how great our city is and to bring commerce and families here. I want to work to build an Irving where people want to visit; where people want to make a family. I realize that our community continuously need public works improvements; what city doesnt. I will prioritize our roads and sidewalks and give attention to projects to help the appearance of our communities as well as continue the development of parks. I see the potential that Irving and my district have to bring in new residents and new business. Irving is strategically located in between the metroplex which gives us an economical advantage. I know that our city needs attention around 183 which has seen major improvement with the new expansion. Nonetheless, I know that to attract business and new residents we need to establish renovation projects to attract new clientele. We need to bring more business, we need to revitalize downtown Irving. I would like to continue renovation projects like the Heritage Crossing project and promote new projects to modernize and upgrade our community.                                                                                                                                

    As a citizen, I realize the need for entertainment in our great city. Growing up, we had the bowling alley, several movie theaters and local events. Nonetheless, I know that many of age group between age 25 and 44 is significant in Irving is about 40%; an age group that does enjoy a comfortable and social lifestyle. I know that many of our citizens go to Dallas, Addison, Arlington and other nearby cities because of social venues available. Let’s keep our citizens here and bring more nearby residents to come to Irving. Let’s help our students excel, work with the school systems and help our schools get what they need to succeed. Let’s attract more families, and thus many families with business would want to call Irving home.

    Furthermore, I would like to promote sustainability and green initiatives. I know that as we move forward into the 21st century, the direction we should take is by promoting a environmentally friendly community. Irving has taken many initiatives such as the solar lighting on Irving Blvd to curbside recycling as well as other programs. Let’s do more. Let’s be the community, let’s be the city to set new standards and lead the way in providing a energy efficient construction of new projects and eco-friendly initiatives. I take pride in cleanliness and environment and will support our citizens to enjoy that right.
Place 2
  • Rene Castilla:  The most pressing issue is the absence of a master plan that lays out the framework for community goals and aspirations in terms of community development, housing, entertainment, and other interconnected issues that a affect the image and the future of our city.
  • Allan Meagher: I live in the southwest section of Irving and have had the opportunity to live in four separate and unique areas in or city. I support redevelopment in southern section of Irving including new residential. Support more retail for Southern and Central Irving so we don’t have to go out of town to shop. Have a more aggressive roadway and sidewalk repair program, especially for older neighborhoods. Support the revitalization of Las Colinas with transit-oriented development, a convention center hotel, and an entertainment center we can afford which will complement our convention center and hotel
  • Francis Schommer: On the many current improvement projects, I would like to prevent delays for extended weeks and months. Irving has a fantastic public safety record, but we should never sit back and assume that we have done enough. I think it would be great if we increased community involvement of previously uninvolved citizens at more events, especially young adults. Recent budget cycles have increased taxes to maintain service levels, yet each budget cycle we hear about how much money was saved in efficiency, and how much more is needed. We wouldn’t have to raise revenue through taxes, fees, and funds, if we were more efficient each time. Government is like a 700 pound man sitting on the taxpayer. Even if he loses 200 pounds, he is still 500 pounds sitting on the taxpayer and asking for more money for the government appetite. We should strive for a healthy weight, that doesn’t crush taxpayers.
  • Kensley Stewart: One of the things we need to address is the large inventory of apartment units. I propose a hard cap on apartment units. If an apartment developer wants to build 500 units, it must purchase and destroy 500 units anywhere in the city. I would encourage any further apartment units to be part of the TODs.

    What would happen is in a matter of a few years is all substandard and government housing will be a thing of the past and would do so in a natural environment.
Place 7
  • Gerald Farris: Irving needs to continue to work hard on neighborhood improvements and improving our housing stock. We need to work more on tough problems. Recent City publications state that we have 97.2% voluntary property code compliance. This is always the most efficient way of getting things done – when parties agree. City staff should be proud of this important accomplishment. However, we need to do more with those tough situations that weigh heavily on the erosion of neighborhood property values and absorb hours of staff time. The end result leaves everyone feeling powerless and apathetic from a misuse and disrespect toward the neighborhood and property values. This results in an undesirable neighborhood environment for families, realtors and potential homebuyers.

    Possible solutions may involve engaging dialogue with landlords, possible Certificate of Occupancy for rental properties. We need to benchmark and adopt tougher ordinances if that is what it takes. Look for ways to motivate renovation or eradication of old apartments. Look for ways to incentivize more projects like Tudor Lane. We can embark on these initiatives through a step by step plan over 5 or 10 years if that is what it takes. But we have to get started with a plan for success.



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