Focus Daily News sent the following questions to ALL candidates running for Midlothian City Council. We do not edit the answers in any way and publish them exactly as they were submitted to us.
Anna Hammonds Midlothian City Council Candidate Place 3
What are some of the things you would like to accomplish if elected?
Some of the priorities I have and hope for our city include the following. I also acknowledge that I would be working as a team and would be one of seven votes on every decision that arises. So although I’d like to snap my fingers and grant all these things right away, it’s obviously a process and a team effort.
• Maintain a Christian and conservative culture with an emphasis on the family unit and continuing to be a community that I would want my grandchildren raised in;
• Continue to be proactive in the planning of our roads and traffic patterns and enhancing them to ensure safety as much as possible through our traffic systems;
• Finish the Park’s Master Plan (already in process), figure out how to fund it and get it implemented so our parks, green spaces and trail systems can be continually enhanced, improved and added to;
• Maintain or decrease our current tax rate based on an annual assessment of what is needed, where we can be fiscally conservative while maintaining what is needed for our growing community;
• Implement the downtown master plan to enhance and revitalize downtown, bringing life to downtown and it serving as a catalyst project for our community;
• Implement the plans to build a new police station (passed by our community through a bond) so we can keep our police and safety teams a top priority, keep up with our growth and enhance our police communication system;
• Work toward a goal of live-work-play – where our people shop here through local entrepreneurs and other business, we have corporations coming here providing high-paying jobs, and our residential opportunities stay unique and creative.
What other boards have you served on in this city and/or other cities?
• Manna House Board of Directors
• Midlothian ISD Education Foundation Board of Directors and current Chair
• Ellis County Leadership Cabinet working with John Maxwell’s Leadership Team
What previous community involvement have you participated in?
• Serving in Unite Ellis – a new organization focusing on collaboration across sectors and across our county
• Mentors Care Mentor
• MISD Mile Entrepreneur Program Mentor
• Q Ministry Project Monthly Food Pantry
• FirstLook Clinic Building Committee
• The Midlothian Project founding team member
• Leadership Midlothian Class of 2018
• Ellis County’s 40 under 40 Business Professionals Award 2018
• Ellis County Christian Women’s ROSE Award 2020
• Church involvement: Worship Team and Leadership Team, Children’s Ministry Leader/Teacher, Youth Ministry Leadership Team
• Participated in Downtown Midlothian Master Plan process
• City of Midlothian Bond Committee
• Served as executive coach or consultant for the following: Hope Clinic, Midlothian Chamber of Commerce, FirstLook Pregnancy Clinic, Texas Baptist Children’s Home, Daniel’s Den, The Anchor, United Way West Ellis County and another 49 organizations outside of Ellis County
Do you think our main street/downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that?
I believe our downtown can and will be more than what it is currently and that we have a plan in place to implement exciting changes. This includes the Lawson Building project that will bring retail, restaurants, hotel and residential lofts; a new City Hall with a new library serving as the center of downtown; increasing walkability and green spaces throughout downtown and bringing an overall nightlife to the area.
Discuss your top three priorities.
My top three priorities in serving our community include the following:
• Maintaining and Increasing Accessibility & Transparency
o Maintaining and increasing transparency and availability to the citizens I hope to serve and represent
o Upholding strong character, integrity and honor
o Being available and responsive to the citizens for needed conversations and questions
• Growing Strategically
o The growth of our community is inevitable, therefore working together to lead well so that we manage growth well
o Researching information and conversations before decisions are made
o Making informed decisions based on the needs and desires of the community while being fiscally conservative
• Serving as a Community Ambassador
o Representing the multiple segments of our community through relationships and conversations
o Getting to know the community by serving the community
o Encouraging the community to be involved, voice their opinions and stay informed
Do you think you have any personal or professional relationships that could become a conflict of interest while serving as a Council member?
Not at this time and if any were to arise in the future I would recuse myself from any Council discussions that would be a potential conflict and trust that our City Attorney will help to ensure this process is implemented.
What are residents telling you are their most important issues, and how would you address them?
As I’m out in the community meeting people, the most consistent theme I hear in comments include traffic/traffic patterns and roads. Since I will personally have teenage drivers soon and because this topic involves the safety of our community, I find our roads to be a very important topic. Ways that, as a Council, we can help with this conversation include the following:
• Monitor incoming developments, comparing plans to Future Land Use Plan, Thoroughfare Plan and current and projected traffic counts and make decisions that will best alleviate traffic congestion while ensuring citizen safety;
• Work with large corporations coming in to make road improvements;
• Work with TXDoT to widen and improve major arterial roads/highways;
• Overall, implement the recommended policies and actions in the Transportation section of the Comprehensive Plan, work with staff to continually monitor growth and projections, identifying areas that need to be focused on because of future growth in relation to future land usage.
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?
My family and I have lived in Midlothian almost 9 years. Experience and qualifications that I feel I bring to the City Council role include the following:
• Experience in city projects and on city committees as well as working closely with staff on personal development projects has provided a high-level overview of city processes, functions and codes;
• Physically attending city council meetings, city board meetings and watching every council meeting I haven’t personally attended back to beginning of 2021;
• Vast experience with nonprofits has given me much experience with budgets of many sizes, the value of fiscal responsibility as well as compassion for our community members; working with different clients over the years has given me the ability to gain quick understanding of situations as well as navigate difficult situations with many different opinions being involved. Even though the City is a different entity than a nonprofit, there are many things that align when looking at how we assess problems, make decisions on what is best for people, creating plans to implement, creating and documenting ordinances, managing budgets with fiscal responsibility, stretching the dollar while making the largest impact and working with a vast array of personalities.
• Strong leader and communicator with a strong drive to get things done;
• A willingness to find the facts and research situations in order to make the best decisions, also including preparing for council meetings and doing my homework before the meetings to be best prepared to make decisions;
• Strong character and integrity; one that can represent our community well with Christian and conservative values, including voting on items that are true to these values even if standing alone in my beliefs;
• Approachability, accessibility and availability – I’m a strong manager of relationships and like to meet with people, discuss their concerns and opinions, listen to them and be able to maintain many relationships across the community in various sectors, backgrounds and belief systems;
• A passion for the people and families of our community; I generally care and passionately care for our people and have the track record to show this passion and involvement with our people.
Do you feel it is important to encourage more community participation and involvement in local politics and how would you do that?
Absolutely! I wish more and more citizens were involved in our community and in local politics. Ways a citizen can be involved include attending city meetings, workshops and events, serving on city boards and committees, attending the meetings and addressing the Council/Boards during public comment sections to give community input, staying informed on what is going on and reaching out to elected officials and/or city staff with questions.
I hope to encourage this involvement by sharing these opportunities with the public, verbally encouraging community members to get involved in the above manners as well as being available to citizens for conversations when they want to voice their opinions.
How will you be responsive to citizens?
I believe our elected officials should be easily available and responsive to the citizens. I am allocating a substantial amount of time per week after being elected for city council meetings and workshops, to prep for these meetings but also to be available for conversations and meetings with citizens and those that reach out to me. I strongly believe this comes with the responsibility of being in an elected position.
If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, how would you use those funds and why?
This is hard. $1 million seems like a lot, but in the world of city budgets, it doesn’t go very far. Can I have $1 billion? I would have a nice, long list if I could have $1 billion.
I would first confirm there are no strings attached to this $1 million grant, and if it truly was “free money” I would ideally spend it on roads based on the citizen feedback I’ve received thus far. However, $1 million for roads will unfortunately not make it very far.
If I were looking to have more “bang for your buck,” I might consider something in the parks and rec system. I’m a big believer in parks and rec because this is an area that relates directly to the mental and physical health of our community, to the connectivity of our community and something that helps us know and interact with our neighbors.
With my $1 million, I would probably add a green space, playground and/or trail system specifically to the northwest side of Midlothian.
This area is our largest area of need when it comes to high social vulnerability verses access to a City park or even an HOA park. In other words, we need something in this area but don’t currently have great access in relation to the number of people in that geographic area. We have similar needs in the southeast and far northeast areas, however the social vulnerability isn’t as high in these areas, therefore I would use my second and third rounds of $1 million on these areas.
What is your favorite part of public service? Why? What is the least favorite? Why?
Favorite part: THE PEOPLE! This is all about the people of our community. It’s a privilege to serve our community, to listen and to help our community be better as we grow.
Least favorite part: Campaigning – having to put your face and name everywhere and having to promote yourself while wanting to be more about humbly serving; it seems like an oxymoron. And people can be mean and nasty when you’re in a public service role, which makes it a little less fun at times.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m here for this community, and if for some reason I don’t win this election, I’ll still be here. I’m not a candidate in this race that just popped up overnight to run in this election, and I’m not one that will go away if I don’t win. There are many things I’m not, but one thing I am is a strong and compassionate leader; and leaders need to lead. So whether that’s in a City Council seat or continuing on boards, committees and volunteering in our community, I’ll still be here. Please reach out to me if you have any questions, want to chat or have coffee. I look forward to meeting you.