Focus Daily News sent the following questions to ALL candidates running for DeSoto City Council. We do not edit the answers in any way and publish them exactly as they were submitted to us.
Debrah North DeSoto City Council Place 5 Candidate
What are some of the things you would like to accomplish if elected?
One of our greatest needs is to attract unique industries that are seeking a city such as Desoto, that will be a mutual fit. Desoto has done well in industrial, supply chain and logistics as well as fast foods and cultural dining. Now, it is time to advance to the next level. We have to expand our benchmark performance for sustainability against national and global standards while demonstrating a commitment to the environment, human health and economic prosperity.
To provide this need, we will work together to negotiate partnerships for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math-Arts) workforce opportunities with schools, businesses, as well as colleges and universities. Enhance partnership opportunities with larger cities, private sector ventures and surrounding businesses that attract unique venture opportunities that will create new demands and new market space for profitable growth and deliver value.
What other boards have you served on in this city and/or other cities?
City of DeSoto Building and Standards/Zoning of Adjustments Board
Rotary of North Texas District 5810 Assistant Governor Appointee
Rotary Club of DeSoto President
Leadership Southwest Board Member
Elerson Trace Park HOA Board of Director
Inland Port Chamber of Commerce Board Member
DeSoto COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster) Member
DeSoto Lions Club Member
DeSoto Civic Academy Graduate
Leadership Southwest Alumni
Cedar Hill PTA Vice President (former)
BUILD former Junior Achievement USA – For Student Entrepreneurs
Dallas Urban League (former)
Dallas Opera Distinguish Leaders (former)
Dallas Museum of Art (former)
What previous community involvement have you participated in?
DeSoto COAD (Community Organization Active in Disaster) Red Cross Blood Drive.
Appointed Red Cross Program Leader for coordinating two successful blood drives for Sickle Cell Awareness this February with DeSoto’s Fire Department and Disciple Community Center Church.
Rotary Club of DeSoto and S.W.A.P Resource Center Luggage Drive benefiting homeless and foster care students (Pre-K to 12th grade) in DeSoto ISD.This is an ongoing service project for in our community
Partnership between DeSoto’s Parks and Recreation and Rotary Club of DeSoto AND Lions Club sponsored a couple of musical instruments at Ernie Roberts Park – DeSoto’s first inclusive park.
Participate in City of DeSoto’s monthly “Keep DeSoto Clean” initiative with Rotary Club of DeSoto.
Do you think our main street/downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that?
I’m excited that DeSoto is considering Hampton Road Redevelopment. The City of DeSoto initiated a process that would ensure future improvements within the Hampton Road Corridor (the study area between approximately Pleasant Run and BeltLine Roads) occur with aesthetic and functional continuity. The Hampton Road Corridor Redevelopment Plan is intended to serve as an approved redevelopment plan providing recommendations for improvements and policy reform which can be implemented over the near- and long-term. Learn more at https://www.ci.desoto.tx.us/1494/Hampton-Road-Redevelopment
Discuss your top three priorities.
Resilient, green, inclusive and smart (re)developments that contribute to improving quality of life.
Neighbor Infrastructure Equity for Economic inclusion.
Do you think you have any personal or professional relationships that could become a conflict of interest while serving as a Council member?
What are residents telling you are their most important issues, and how would you address them?
At this time, the greatest public safety concerns for residents are gun-related crimes, due to passing of permitless carry, for businesses is shoplifting. Our mayor, city council and police department are committed to work together through community forums to explore possible solutions. Citizens are encouraged to call or text anonymous crime tips. The DeSoto Police Department Victims Assistance Program is also committed to helping victims of violent crimes. We strive to provide services and support to people in our community that have been identified as victims. Victims in crisis suffer both physical and psychological trauma, along with emotional and financial set-backs.
Crime Victims’ Compensation is a financial assistance program that helps eligible victims of crime with certain expenses related to the crime. The program is designed to assist victims with their expenses who suffer personal injury or death as the result of a violent crime, including DWI. The Crime Victims’ Compensation Program is the “The Payer of Last Resort ” after primary sources of payment such as Health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, Auto insurance or Texas Workers’ Compensation have been exhausted.
Residents and business owners want an effective city council person who genuinely cares about them and can get results that matter.
How long have you lived in the City and what experience do you bring to the role that you feel sets you apart from your opponent?
I believe what sets me apart from the incumbent as the best person is that I grew up in Dallas, serving in the community and church since a teen, graduating from Skyline Career Development Center with High Honors with emphasis on Information Technology in 1982. I returned to deSoto in 2017 after corporate relocations living in Atlanta, Westchester County New York, Chicago with experience working with both public and private sectors in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, information technology, as well recruiting for the National Security Administration, State and Local Governments and Dept of Defense while my son attended both public and charter schools, he participated in People to People international program.
No matter the age, people today are dealing with added stress and mounting burdens of juggling immediate family obligations, most caring for their aging parents—along with a career, not to mention any personal interests or business pursuits. There are also empty nesters who have adult children (with their family) returning home due to housing costs exceeding their income.
I’m a dual care-giver and self-employed who understands the challenges of navigating through economic ups and downs as well as planning for business growth to remain relevant in the marketplace. And, having moved my family through corporate relocations around the Midwest and East Coast, the importance of family life, quality education, affordable housing, and a safe neighborhood with great amenities are essential. I believe DeSoto residents and businesses will find my experiences valuable to our city.
Do you feel it is important to encourage more community participation and involvement in local politics and how would you do that?
In order to encourage more community participation and involvement, we first need to HEAL from the losses, economic hardships, reduced/limited workforce, and other issues that DeSoto residents, businesses, and government experienced related to Covid-19. I will continue to work with the City Council in examining community-wide solutions for economic inclusion.
How will you be responsive to citizens?
I will be responsive within the city’s guidelines. Yet, I also think it is important to go out into the community to meet residents where they are. That could be eating a sno-cone at the corner sno-cone shack or a formal gathering.
If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, how would you use those funds and why?
DeSoto is growing, which is a good issue to have. Our roads, transportation and infrastructure are under review on how to balance expansion along with our growth spurt as well as its impact on residential and commercial areas.
I would allocate the $1 million grant that would Optimize policies, resources and programs to support our youth, working professionals, families with special needs and tax relief for active 55+ as well as Juvenile to Work programs for students on out-of-school suspension. The State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program final rule – which takes effect on April 1, 2022 – will also provide state and local governments with increased flexibility to pursue a wider range of uses, as well as greater simplicity so governments can focus on responding to the crisis in their communities and maximizing the impact of their funds.
What is your favorite part of public service? Why?
It’s about serving the people with a balance of creating policies and implementing legislation for the betterment of our city.
What is your least favorite? Why?
I’ll have to get back a response after being voted into office.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
When a person thinks of the North Star, it’s a constant that you can depend on in your life as the world changes around you, serving as a beacon of hope and inspiration, providing direction and helping people to stay on their course.
Go North stands for Negotiate, Optimize, Represent, Teach and Heal.
I am ready to get to work to identify the needs of our residents, formulate a plan to meet those needs that will help our community stay on course towards a stronger economy, neighborhood infrastructure equity, and public safety. Learn more at https://www.dn4dcc.com/ #GoNorth!