Midlothian Chamber City Council Candidates Forum Recap

Candidate Forun group photo
Photo credit Midlothian Chamber of Commerce

MIDLOTHIAN – Last week the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce held a candidate’s forum for the upcoming City Council elections on May 4.

Both places 5 and 6 are up for re-election and questions were asked of the candidates that are compiled below.

Additional candidate information can be found on the Chamber’s website.

Editor’s Note: This recap is only a recap and doesn’t include all questions or all answers from the candidates. We encourage our readers to watch the forum in its entirety to learn more about the candidates.

Running in Place 5: Incumbent Ed Gardner and challenger Ross Weaver


Candidate Introductions


Ed Gardner: He said he has lived in Midlothian about 20 years ago and he said he has run for office in the past and now because he has looked at the community and seen it has grown beyond the small town that he loved. He said he has spent many years abroad with a strong business acumen, but he gave all that up to run a small business in Midlothian and he has been working to be more active in the community.

“I was elected last year on fiscal responsibility and accountability on keeping family values and promoting small business and backing public safety” and he wants to continue serving.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term?

1. Lowering taxes and ensuring that municipal spending is only as required to provide the
services and experiences that the residents of Midlothian Demand.

2. Improve the “customer experience” for the citizens of Midlothian in their dealings with City Hall by improving and creating the process and procedures that drive those interactions.

3. To instill the core principal of service into every level of city government, ensuring that all that is done within city hall is with the mindset that government serves and answers to the people

Ross Weaver: He is a third-generation resident of Midlothian, and he remembers the time when the city had one stoplight and had to wait until the next morning to get gas if the station was closed.

“I have seen a lot of growth, and I have seen the problems and successes we have had.” He said he wants to continue that legacy of keeping Midlothian a place to call home, not just becoming a place to live. “As the face of the community changes it comes down to leadership and long-range planning, we have to keep the city focused on the basics; roads, infrastructure, first responders, parks, those things a city is supposed to do.”

If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term?

1. Fiscal Responsibility – The City has a duty to improve roads and maintain
infrastructure, fund first responders, and maintain parks and other facilities, but it
also has a duty to respect the taxpayers. I will work to ease the tax burden by
combing through the budget and cutting waste, ensuring every line item provides
substantial benefit to our citizens, as well as bringing in new businesses. Outside
of necessary spending, any other spending including major capital projects should
be subject to the will of the voters through a public bond election.

2. Accountability – I will clearly communicate long term goals and implement
regular accountability checks to ensure staff, boards, and commissions are taking
action in accordance with the expectations and needs of Midlothian citizens.

3. Reducing Red Tape – Regulations and ordinances should be based in common
sense and be easily understandable for the citizens of Midlothian. You should not
need a law degree to operate a business, from your home or a storefront, or to
construct a fence around your backyard as long as you’re being a good neighbor to
those around you.



Ed Gardner: He said it is not the city does not have a good plan, he believes it is an excellent master plan determine what is needed “the issue has been when the business come to apply, they get pushed into the process that the city uses to control what they are doing. They are forced into planned developments and special use permits and it ends up giving the city more ability to guide and makes it harder for the businesses.

“I think we need to go back and tighten up our base zoning and base it off the comprehensive plan and turn it around and give a simple and understandable blueprint for these businesses coming in as to what and how they can build.”

He said that the permitting needs to be streamlined when it is no longer relevant; it needs to be removed for “continual process improvement.”

Regarding local businesses, he said he always shops local, talks to the business owners, and asks how to improve their business “just being available.”


Ross Weaver: He said he has served as the Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and he said zoning and planning “excites him.” He said it is a passion and he believes there have been some struggles that need to be updated.

“The world has changed so that has pushed stuff into more customized planned development. On the one hand it is good because it creates flexibility, on the other hand it is bad because it creates chaos.”

He said the over-regulation must be reduced. He suggests being engaged and staying involved “is vitally important.”

He helped found the Chamber’s legislative committee and he said he must be available to engage with the small businesses.



Ed Gardner: He said he was elected a year ago to serve the people of Midlothian and he promised to fight for lower taxes. He said, “I was not able to lower the tax rate, but I was able to work with my peers to get the first-ever homestead exemption for the citizens of Midlothian. I worked to more than double the exemption for seniors in our town from $70,000 to $150,000. I worked against large developments that were coming in and fought hard to keep single-family homes being our focus, and I was able to sponsor and get past making Midlothian a Sanctuary City for the Unborn.” He said he is endorsed by the State of Texas Republican Party and the Ellis County GOP.


Ross Weaver: He said this is home, I was born here, and I have been witness to the growth that the city has experienced from rural roots to where the city is now. “That means I learn from the past, the failures and the successes along the way.” He reminded he has been part of the growth of the city along the way and he believes that qualifies him to shepherd the city in the future by going back to the basics of what a city is supposed to provide.”



Running in Place 6: Incumbent Hud Hartson and challengers Dannion McLendon, Wayne Sheffield, and Ronnie Morris


Candidate Introductions


Hud Hartson: He said his first response why he is running because “I love my town.” He is from Midlothian, and his parents moved to the city deliberately for a small-town feel and education, he has watched firsthand the leaders of the city creating what it is now. He said so many people want to move to Midlothian because of the quality of life, but he said he saw first-hand how the city leaders have led the city “I ran in 2020 in the face of our nation going woke against our police officers and I made bold stand and held a pro-police rally in the city to let our officers know we still support them.”

He has been elected twice to city council and said he has fought to lower the taxes, voted to increase the homestead exemption for seniors from $70,000 to $150,000. He has the endorsement of State Representative Brian Harrison, four-time former mayor Maurice Osborne and the Republican Party of Ellis County. He said the city needs bold leadership and will not forget the bosses in the city are the citizens.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term?

1. Continue to vote to keep taxes as low as possible and to find ways to save the taxpayers money.

2. Promote responsible growth. Every development doesn’t deserve to be passed with a rubber stamp.

3. Roads. We must as a city be very active in maintaining, repairing, and developing new roads. Nobody moved to our great city to face traffic jams. I’ll continue to be a strong voice with TxDot by urging them to help resolve these issues with the roads they control within our city.

Dannion McLendon: He is originally from Memphis, TN and he is from a military background. He served 10 years in the Navy and served in the Air Force Reserves and after 9/11 he went back on active duty in the Air Force. He said he is running on unity to bring the community together, running to make sure everyone in the city is heard, and finally, giving the vote back to the people. “I believe if we can get these three things right, we can truly take care of our city.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term?

1. Community Development and Infrastructure Improvement
2. Public Safety and Quality of Life
3. Education and Youth Development

Wayne Shuffield: He has lived in Midlothian since the summer of 2000. He has been involved for over two decades with the city in various capacities. “It all started when I was asked to serve as a founding member of the Midlothian Education Board to help raise funds” for the school district. He served three terms on the school board, also as President, and then served on Midlothian Economic Development board and other boards and involved in community service for 24 years.

“I come seeking election as one who is unwavering in my dedication and pride and this community and also where I see we are going in this unprecedented time.” He said the city needs thoughtful leaders and people who are proven in their work to unite the community.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term?

1. Balancing hometown living with quality growth

2. Empowering community business to prosper including local small business as
well as current and future industrial and manufacturing companies in the area

3. Putting money back in the wallets of our citizens through lower taxes and
alternative tax revenues

Ronnie Morris: He moved to Midlothian 15 years ago, his wife was a schoolteacher, and he is the Asst. Chief of Police in the City of Grand Prairie. They have two teenage daughters both MISD students. “Navigating the highest levels of city government uniquely positions me to take on the challenges of city government and confront the things that come along [with that].” He said he has a proven record of fiscal responsibility and partnering with the community and businesses, and stake holders of the city to work together to achieve great things and improve the quality of life in the community. He wants his children to be able to be proud of where they came from and to recognize where they came from. He believes “home is worth fighting for, and this is home.”

If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term?

1. Community safety and quality of life
2. Fiscal prudence and tax reduction
3. Transparency and accountability


Hud Hartson: He said when it comes to small businesses, he does not think anyone has supported them as much as he has, he did this particularly during COVID.

“Red tape should not have a place in a small town. If a small business comes to you asking for help the first responsibility as a council member is to help that citizen.” He cited a recent accomplishment for a food truck in the local park and how he was able to help streamline it.

He said he has seen firsthand the struggles small businesses go through because of red tape. He also promotes small businesses intentionally and he feels they deserve his support, and he has voted against large developers because of bait and switch.

“I have the background to vote no,” and he has done it within the last month.


Dannion McLendon: He said there is an importance for flexibility depending on the situation. “First of all, we must review and streamline the regulations.” There should be a team put together to review the processes currently in place and with those processes you have to see the hindrances with the red tape.”

He said the team should consist of a councilmember, city staff, and a small business owner to gather feedback. He also suggested providing education and resources, what are the processes? And he said the small business community should also be engaged with and develop a city council small business forum to get information, identify opportunities for improvement and for engagement.

“If we work together as a community we can get these things do this and pick out the true issues.”

He also mentioned the city needs to go back to old school, regular communication and talking to each other and find out what is going on, talk to the smaller businesses and also providing resources and information so small businesses can thrive.


Wayne Shuffield: He believes the city should increase the opportunity and power for small businesses to prosper and proceed with their objectives. Any government agency has issues that need to be addressed and he said that needs to be looked at as a councilmember. “I think this is going to take a lot of teamwork, and it is going to take a togetherness in all the people involved with the business owner, and I think the councilmember needs to get involved in the relationship with the potential business owners coming in and those still here.”

He said there needs to be an expectation clearly expressed and looked at each as an opportunity to expand while making the small businesses a priority in the community.

He said it begins with relationships and taking the initiative to create those relationships. He said the city needs to look at the processes and set priorities to make the changes by listening to the community.


Ronnie Morris: He said he has talked to business owners about the processes in the city and the feedback he received was lack of communication, continuity and process causing frustration, impact fees being astronomical compared to other cities and the process is inefficient, skyrocketing rents causing mom and pop businesses to go out of business while the city gives money to big businesses.

Here are the solutions he said he was told from business owners; have one point of contact for doing business, reduce impact fees to the level necessary, realign the inspection process or realign responsibility to more appropriate staff to save time, incentivize smaller businesses in the city, create a fast-track approval process for small businesses to encourage local entrepreneurs.

“The answer to streamlining is government get out of the way and let businesses do what they do, and we will be fine.”

He also suggested communication and simple things like asking how city government affects their business. He cited the new City Hall “it would have been a great idea to ask each business owner, not property owner, how will building City Hall downtown affect them directly, etc.… looking at property tax and competition for small businesses. Also sitting down with the developers and collaboration and addressing concerns as needed.



Hud Hartson: He said, “If you are like most people, you pay attention to politics a few times a year and then let it go. You need someone in the office who you can trust to do the right thing when you are not looking.” He cited inappropriate books in the library and someone “who can put their name on the line and fight the fight even if it is unpopular. If you re-elect me, I will keep fighting for the citizens of this town.”


Dannion McLendon: He said Midlothian is changing. He said everyone on the dais with him has talked about how they have been here so long, “I need to remind everyone I am an example of new Midlothian. Everyone is moving to Midlothian, and we must make them feel like this is their home as well. I know many of you love a small town feel and I do too, that is why I moved here. As people are coming in, we have to make them feel like they are part of the city as well.”

He said as City Council member he can say he will not promise anything other than he will fight for, work for, and listen to the citizens.

Wayne Shuffield: He said he has been involved and engaged in the community for 24 years and “I am in love with this community” and he wants to see the quality growth the city can have and build a community that has the small “community kind of flavor and at the same time have quality growth to help with the tax base and the opportunities and the businesses coming in.”

He won’t complain about what is going on he says, “get engaged and involved.”


Ronnie Morris: He said he and his family love the city of Midlothian and are proud to be part of the community. “I don’t think we will lose that in our city if we do things the right way.” He recognized the urbanization, and he said there needs to be a pause button on the growth and a foundation for the city; infrastructure, roads, lowering the taxes, “we need to get these things under control so we can have a stable foundation and welcome the growth to come whatever it looks like.”


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