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.
Dr. Dinah H. Marks DeSoto City Council Place 5 Incumbent
What are some of the things you would like to accomplish if elected?
I’d like to continue to work on my current initiative, iCSI (Intra-Customer Service). This initiative focuses on training our small businesses in the area of Customer Service while integrating social media. Customer service is the life-blood of any business. Through a partnership with Dallas College – Cedar Valley College, we were able to train 35 businesses with favorable results. Therefore, we’d like to expand this initiative to reach all small businesses here in DeSoto.
What other boards have you served on in this city and/or other cities?
Domestic Violence Commission
Planning & Zoning – Council Liaison
Chamber of Commerce – Council Liaison
Kentsdale Farm Homeowners’ Association
What previous community involvement have you participated in?
Domestic Violence Walk
Fil-A- Tundra Toy/Clothes Drive
Adopt A Street
City – Last Friday Trash Pick-Up
Chris Howell Foundation – Toy Give-away
Neighborhood Breast Cancer Awareness Walk
Do you think our main street/downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that?
At present we do not have a main street/downtown; therefore, we are creating one. It’s called the Hampton Road Re-development. This project will have a medical district, entertainment area, mixed use community center, and some neighborhood centers. Although this is a about a 10-year build out project, we are excited to know that it is on our Strategic Plan, and we are working toward the goal.
Discuss your top three priorities.
• Increase collaboration/participation with DeSoto ISD
• Promote internship opportunities
• Increase learning opportunities throughout/city spaces , i.e. parks, cityhall
Economic Development –
• Expand iCSI (Customer Service Excellence) training for small businesses
• Improve infrastructure/streets
• Promote economic development to create job
• Identify and empower different ethnic groups
• Promote neighborhood association for homes located outside of an HOA
• Increase trust/transparency with Police department to reduce crime
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?
Crime seems to be at the top of the list for our residents. Although crime for our city has had a 29% decrease over the past 5 years, when isolated incidents hit social media, it tend to rise to the top. With that, the Mayor and City Council will be working on a Public Safety Coalition – this Coalition is Council driven to create a community of stakeholders to work on public safety issues. Groups that already have engaged audiences i.e. HOAs, former and current law enforcement officers who live in DeSoto, faith community, businesses, school district, PTA groups, hotel associations, etc. to target issues: smoke shops concerns, code enforcements, speeding, gun violence, bolstering national night engagement. Create sub-groups to work on targeted issues.
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 have lived in the All-America City of DeSoto since 2007 (15-years). I’m a Certified Texas Municipal Officer, the highest certification that the State of Texas offers for Mayors and Councilmembers. Additionally, I have perfect attendance for all Special and Regular scheduled Council meeting since being elected in 2019. As a current Councilmember I have past experience of being on the front lines of listening and responding to residents, being a champion for propositions in getting them from table to ballot, creating and implementing initiatives with desired results, and champion greenspaces in future planned developments.
My professional life of 30+ years were spent serving students as a teacher, instructional specialist, educational employment administrator, assistant principal, principal fellow, and principal. Therefore, the same leadership qualities used in each of the aforementioned positions are easily transferrable to the Council position.
Do you feel it is important to encourage more community participation and involvement in local politics and how would you do that?
It is absolutely imperative to encourage more community participation/involvement. By doing so it will foster greater sustainability of certain issues because it allows them to assist in the decision-making process.
How will you be responsive to citizens?
I will be responsive to our citizens by delivering excellent government services while exercising transparency and fiscal transparency.
If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, how would you use those funds and why?
If I received a $1million grant to use for the city any way I wanted, I would arrange for it to be given to the residents to help ease their tax burden. Taxes are extremely high. Salaries are not increasing at the same rate as taxes; therefore, making it difficult for residents to retain their homes. Our Senior population is probably the population that’s suffering the most. City Council has agreed to increase the homestead exemption $10,000 for our 65 and older residents over the next two years, starting in 2023 with $5000, and in 2024 $5000.
What is your favorite part of public service? Why? What is the least favorite? Why?
Favorite – The favorite part of public service is listening and being responsive to residents’ concerns, knowing that you are making a difference in their everyday lives.
Least Favorite – N/A
Is there anything else you would like to add?
You can learn more about Dinah H. Marks on her campaign website.
Early voting begins April 25, Election Day is May 7, 2022.