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.
Midlothian City Council Candidate Place 3 Ed Gardner
What are some of the things you would like to accomplish if elected?
The most pressing item I hope to accomplish is to reduce the DFW urban sprawl into Midlothian. I want to hold future growth to our base zoning plan in order to maintain our small-town feel. I also want to ensure that the growth we are already experiencing completes in a responsible manner that doesn’t leave our grandchildren paying for it. I want to build more avenues for the community to get involved and provide oversight of our local government, and to increase voter turnout in our local elections.
I will push for revisions to be made to any of the policies and documentation that are used to govern and manage the city that are out of date so that they reflect the current challenges the city is facing. I also want to ensure that the tax dollars that have already been slated for projects such as the new City Hall and Police station produce the best outcome for the citizens of Midlothian.
What other boards have you served on in this city and/or other cities?
I have not served on a city board but I have sat in countless boardrooms around the world, many of those city/municipal and state governments, advising those boards on solutions to the very same problems we are facing in Midlothian.
What previous community involvement have you participated in?
I was involved in pushing for the legislation that ended forced annexation in Texas, and currently I am working on behalf of the moment to declare Midlothian a Sanctuary City for the Unborn. Like most parents, we are also extremely involved in our children’s lives and all the activities that they participate in, and it was through those interactions with all the wonderful families in our community that I was encouraged run for City Council.
Do you think our main street/downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that?
When we moved to Midlothian many years ago, a large number of businesses were vacant and run down. Over the past 15 years we have watched our downtown become considerably healthier and more successful. While there has been an influx of national chains, more importantly we have seen a huge growth in locally owned and operated unique business built by our residents to serve the needs of our community. These unique small businesses give our community much of the texture that forms the fabric and Identity of Midlothian.
Our small businesses are what makes our downtown special and different from surrounding areas. As a Councilmen I would do all I could to incentivize and nurture the small business environment in Midlothian and make sure there is always a place for those businesses as our city grows.
Discuss your top three priorities.
My top three priorities are Controlled Growth, Promoting Local Business, and Government Accountability.
My stance on Controlled Growth has always been that I would prefer that it come much more slowly, but it hasn’t, and it won’t. Growth has been explosive and combining that growth rate with our borders being locked due to the end of forced annexation, we are now in the position of needing to plan for a community that is completely built out. When the dust settles and there is no more farm land to bulldoze, will we have the correct balance of homes and businesses to meet the needs of all of our residents in their varying stages of life? Will we have the businesses and services to provide for all the needs of the community? Will there be the right kind of jobs to sustain our local economy? We cannot let the needs of the immediate opportunity of growth come before the legacy that it creates.
The next Priority on my list is holding the Government accountable to the people both in its operation and its spending. This encompasses all that local government does and provides, from road building to Law Enforcement, from trash collection and water delivery, to Fire/EMS, and to our parks. Accountability provides accessibility and transparency for all departments and services. The people need to understand if their tax dollars are being spent to maximize the most return on the investments we make in construction and infrastructure and that there is not waste built in. If this oversight results in tax surpluses, then those tax dollars should go back to the people and the rates adjusted down accordingly. The government works for the people, not the other way around.
I have also covered my priority of Promoting Local Business in other questions but I will expand on it by saying that local businesses that are built within the community enrich us all by sharing our values and experiences and they create opportunities and jobs for our residents that are catered to the community, and they treat the workers as family and not as assets. Those businesses are also more quickly able to adapt to the changing needs and desires of the community than any corporate, one size fits all, business.
Do you think you have any personal or professional relationships that could become a conflict of interest while serving as a Council member?
Other than my wife being the Optometrist at Walmart, absolutely not. When I say I’m running for City Council solely to serve the community, that is the entire story. The only property I own in Midlothian is the home I live in, and I have no business interest specific to Midlothian nor would I benefit or be harmed (other than any other citizen would) by the decisions, ordinances, or policies that I would be voting on.
What are residents telling you are their most important issues, and how would you address them?
Growth and crime are the two most common concerns that I hear from my fellow residents. Most everyone I come in contact with believes we are growing too fast and that we are excessively and unnecessarily increasing population density. Crime always increases with density, so as a member of the city council, I would stand firm in holding builders to our current planning and zoning and fight anytime I would be asked to increase density over the allowed zoning. I would also work to ensure that our Police department has the funding, tools, and training required to protect and serve the growing and more diverse population.
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?
We moved to Midlothian in 2005 when I was relocated from Houston to DFW to work at Nokia’s North American headquarters. My work at Nokia and Hewlett Packard advising businesses and municipalities all over the globe sets me apart by giving me a deep knowledge of how to build vast organizational structures with a focus on financial responsibility and accountability. Additionally, as a consultant, my primary job was to observe exiting organizational structures and processes to find areas of improvement and to identify risks. Those assessments were followed by the responsibility to come up with solutions and a plan to address those problems and to be able to communicate them to varying levels of audiences and stake holders. These are the very skills required to be an effective member of the City Council.
Do you feel it is important to encourage more community participation and involvement in local politics and how would you do that?
ABSOLUTELY! All government is supposed to represent and work for the PEOPLE, when the citizens stop being involved, governments turn to those that are vocal for guidance which is why we end up with so much special interest getting their way at the expense of the greater population. I will push to get more people to vote and to attend City Council meetings and workshops, I will encourage discussion about current issues on social media, and I will encourage the entire community to seek board seats and public office to help guide our government for the betterment of the community.
How will you be responsive to citizens?
I will gladly make myself available to take calls, respond to emails, and meet with citizens that have concerns for the direction of the city. I believe that accessibility and transparency are essential for all levels of government representatives.
If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, how would you use those funds and why?
I would love to see a Museum built to showcase the history and story of Midlothian, the families that built this town, and to give the next generation a foundation in where we came from.
What is your favorite part of public service? Why? What is the least favorite? Why?
The best part of public service is knowing that what you are doing will benefit the community as a whole and can improve the lives of everyone living here. Knowing that impact that the work has gives tremendous meaning to every hour and every effort. My least favorite part of being a public servant is the divisive and hateful attacks I have had leveled at me for openly declaring myself to be a conservative and a Christian. Most if not all of those attacks have come through social media from people who do not even live in our community, but the pain is felt none the less. Giving up my privacy and anonymity in order to serve the community is a tremendous sacrifice, but one I’m willing to make because of the good I can accomplish by doing so.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I grew up in a small logging town in Southern Oregon and my wife grew up on a corn farm in Nebraska, and we met in our Texas Government class our first semester at University of Houston. By the time my wife had finished Optometry school and her residencies we had already lived in Texas for ten years, but it wasn’t until we moved to Midlothian that we realized we would forever be Texans.
We have two beautiful and well-educated daughters that were native born to Midlothian and are a product of the Midlothian Public schools. This is our home and I want what is best for it, just as all of you do, and I will give every possible bit of my effort and talents to protect it. This community belongs to all of us, help me to protect it by showing up to vote. Early voting starts April 25th and goes until May 3rd with Election Day on May 7th, and I’m asking you to please come out and give me your vote.
Early voting begins April 25, Election Day is May 7, 2022.