Denton Matters City Council Candidate Interviews: Place 6, Jim Mann
Question 1: When asked about advancing inclusion and protecting civil rights, a common answer recently given by candidates is a pledge to “meet with local leaders.” What specific plans do you have to meet the needs of our diverse community? What have you done prior to this election to advance these causes?
I have been doing this for years. I am a pastor, and an important tenant of my faith is that all humans are equal. I believe the spiritual community plays an important part in protecting rights, calming tensions and fears, and advancing inclusion. In the wake of the unrest in South Carolina several years ago, I began meeting with a diverse group of pastors throughout Denton. We have prayed together monthly and preached in each other’s churches. We have been building trust together for years. We have open doors of communication. We realized that if/when similar unrest came to Denton, it would be too late to build bridges. When the turbulence came following the brutal murder of George Floyd, we held a prayer meeting at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in S.E. Denton. It was in no way political…we were all joining together to ask for God’s grace and mercy on our beloved city.
Question 2: Did you support the city’s mask ordinance? Yes or No. What in your opinion would be your responsibility, as a city official, in protecting Denton’s citizens from COVID19 or similar threats?
Yes and no. I did not believe Denton, as a city, needed to supersede the County’s mandates on masks as it penalized small business and forced them to “police” the issue. However, I willingly abide by it myself. My church is technically exempt from these policies, but we have abided by them in good faith so as to be good citizens. My goal is to keep citizens safe by following and to re-open businesses so they can be profitable again.
Question 3: Council Members pitch ideas for initiatives to have city staff research. At your first work session, after this election, what will be your first pitch to help the citizens of Denton?
Several options vie for priority in my mind:
- I have a concern about the lack of diversity on city committees. I will request the staff to provide a list of all committee members with their respective race and ethnicity so I can help recruit people of color to ensure fair representation. (For example, there are no Hispanics on the Denton Housing Authority).
- What are the restrictions the County is placing on rental assistance? (It was announced on October 2 that there is a 3-month maximum). How are we going to help families if they have exceeded their three months?
- I am in discussion with a group of concerned citizens seeking land in Denton to provide affordable housing for our military, including active duty, National Guard, Reserve, and especially disabled veterans.
Question 4: Our city will be facing a budget crisis due to reduced tax revenue. What, specifically, will you do to bring home recovery funds to assist Denton residents and businesses who are struggling with Covid-19 related economic challenges?
I will pray, but I will also work! Since Federal funds flow through the County, the City Council must engage with Congressman Michael Burgess’ office and County Commissioners for the need of Federal funds to help overcome economic challenges. I have good relationships with Dr. Burgess and the Denton County Commissioners. As mentioned previously, Governor Abbott just came out with a program to provide rental assistance for people who are facing eviction.
Proactively, Denton could use New Market Tax Credits to redevelop the east side of downtown (Bell Street area) to spur new businesses.
Question 5: What in your history/record qualifies you, above your challengers, for the seat you are seeking election?
I’m a fifth generation Texan, born in Denton (Flow Memorial), educated in Denton (Woodrow Wilson, Strickland, DHS — Go Broncos!). I left for college and graduate school (I hold a Ph.D.), but came back because I love this city. I want Denton to prosper in every way!
I’m an entrepreneur. I started a church with a team of four which is now 600 members on a 40 acre campus. I manage people and budgets. As a pastor, I have a thorough understanding of financial management, communicating with constituents, and listening and understanding citizen concerns. I’m a problem-solver.
I have been a public servant for 28 years and now I would like to serve the entire city of Denton. My office door is always open…and will continue to be as your City Council representative.
Question 6: The DEC Net projected Income is in the Red year over year and citizens have been informed that our energy rates will go up as a result. What are your plans to help resident ratepayers keep costs lower? Do you have any ideas or plans in place to assist with this?
I feel the DEC is misunderstood. When Denton decided to go 100% renewable (a great goal!) the DEC was engaged to assist. When renewable resources (wind, solar) are not available and prices soar, the DEC quickly kicks into action and keeps our energy prices from spiking. It is a valuable asset to Denton. It is a cutting-edge facility providing service to 53,194 residential and commercial customers with yearly energy sales of 1,519,763 MWH. It is a not-for-profit facility and should not be expected to “make money” for Denton…that’s not its purpose. My opponent consistently votes against the DEC. But rising rates are not DEC’s fault. The city should continue support of this enterprise in order to “get it out of the red” in order to keep our electricity rates low.