Greg Contreras, who retired as Duncanville’s Building Official two years ago, was elected May 1 to serve as City Councilman for District 5. The District 5 council seat had been held by Councilwoman Johnette Jameson, who had served seven terms since 2005. District 5 encompasses an area from Cedar Ridge to Cockrell Hill, Red Bird and Fair Meadows.
Now 68, Contreras and his wife have lived in the district over 40 years, and raised their family there. Their children attended Duncanville schools from Fair Meadows through high school. They now have seven grandchildren.
Another new Councilmember, Jeremy Koontz, was also elected on May 1 to take the District 3 slot vacated by Monte Anderson, who decided not to run again. Both new councilmen were sworn in at a ceremony held May 18 at City Hall.
Duncanville Mayor Barry Gordon said, “While we welcome two new councilmembers, Greg Contreras for District 5 and Jeremy Koontz for District 3, I want to thank Johnette Jameson and Monte Anderson for their dedication and commitment to serve our city. Their ideas, experience, and knowledge contributed greatly to sustaining our city’s vision. Mr. Contreras brings to City Council many years of experience as a past executive in our Public Works department and I’m confident we will all benefit from his insights. Mr. Koontz’s recent service on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has afforded him a glimpse into municipal governance and I look forward to his fresh ideas.”
City Building Official
From 1990-2019, Contreras served as City Building Official. During that time he held several other positions, including Interim Assistant City Manager. In 2012, the City Council appointed him their Interim City Manager to fill an unexpected vacancy.
Councilman Contreras said he still remembered and appreciated how much assistance and support he received from department heads and Police and Fire Chiefs during that period. His goal was to see the directors and chiefs maintain their operations during such a challenging time. After Kevin Hugman was hired as the City Manager, Contreras was able to return to his fulltime position as Building Official.
“Starting at my retirement party, I was approached by friends and neighbors to run for the City Council. I kept refusing, because I had no desire to run for office. I finally agreed to run for District 5 because the city has been so great to us for 40 years,” he said.
Contreras said retirement offered him more time to give back to the community. In a Dallas Morning News article prior to the election, he said, “I developed a relationship with many citizens and business owners during my 29 years as a city employee, and understand a great deal of what …our community cares most about. I also worked with many departments within the city including police and fire personnel which gave me an expanded understanding of our city operations. I gained great appreciation and respect for our first responders,” he said.
Contreras as Interim City Manager
“During my year as our Interim City Manager I was able to work with the City Council and gain first-hand knowledge of the importance of having a council that works together even during times of disagreement while always keeping the citizens best interests as a priority,” he said.
The new councilman pointed to the city’s many affordable, well maintained custom homes and the success of the Keep Duncanville Beautiful committee. He feels it’s important to preserve older neighborhoods through programs like PIP that encourage repairs and upkeep.
Councilman Contreras said he has worked with the Duncanville Property Improvement Program (PIP) since its beginning. The program provides volunteer labor and donated materials to provide free assistance to homeowners unable to make home repairs.
As the City’s Building Official, Contreras said he met a lot of people in the community. He was able to help many of them work through problems with code enforcement and regulations.
“I always tried to work with the developer or homeowner to find a solution for their problem, whether it was not knowing they needed a permit or some other issue,” he said.
Some of the challenges Contreras sees for District 5 include the fact that a significant number of the residents are retired, and only receive Social Security checks. Raising taxes on their homes is a real problem for these senior citizens.
“Every time you raise property taxes or evaluations, it comes down to the importance of pennies, not just dollars,” he said.
Septic vs Sewer Systems
The Western part of District 5 is concerned about attempts to require mandatory sewer tie-ons. Like most of his neighbors, Contreras is firmly against changing the system, which he says “still works fine.”
Contreras is an expert on such issues, having served on the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners from 1996-2000, and as their Chair his last year.
In the Eastern part of District 5, the lack of street parking has become an issue in recent years, as more families have multiple vehicles. Contreras says it’s important to follow code enforcement policies for the good of the city.
Community involvement includes Contreras’ continued service on the Trauma Support Services of North Texas (TSSNT) since 2014, as Vice Chair of the board. The organization provides trauma counseling and support services to children, teens, adults and families who have experienced trauma, regardless of their ability to pay.