Q&A Ed Gardner Midlothian City Council Candidate Place 5

Ed Gardner headshot
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 in the comprehensive 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 hope 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for revisions to be made to any of the policies and documentation that are used to govern and manage the city that are out of date so that they reflect the current challenges the city is facing.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 do what I can to lower taxes for the citizens of Midlothian.

What made you want to run for this office?

Every day we can make small steps to improve the world around us such as just being kind to a stranger, waving at a neighbor, holding the door for someone, but its rare that we have the opportunity to make a large impact as an individual. Serving on the council would afford me the opportunity to make an even greater positive impact on the world and its an opportunity to give back to the community that has been so good to me and my family.

What are some of the most important qualities that a city council member should have?

Most important is an understanding that they serve at the will and pleasure of the people. They need to understand that the role of the council is to be the watch that is chosen by the people to represent their interests in the local government and to act accordingly.

What are some of the ways you are involved in the community?

I love to help out at my kids schools, and with the teams and activities that my children are involved in. Recently I have also had the opportunity to volunteer with other programs such as the Entrepreneur program at the MILE. I am also the GOP precinct chair for voting precinct 1041 and use that position to encourage voter turnout and build better awareness of local issues and encourage community involvement. My hope is that I will be elected to serve on the Council and through that position, to play an even larger part in our community in the future.

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 in both 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.
Promoting Local Business that are built within the community enrich us all because local business’ share 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.

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 wife and I moved to Midlothian 18 years ago and still live in the same home that we chose to raise our children in. As for my experience; I served one enlistment in the US Navy and then came to Texas in 1995 to go to the University of Houston where I met my wife and started my first business serving small to medium business in the computer industry. I was then recruited by Madison River Communications to build the first fiber data network through Texas became the backbone of data communications in our state and that bridged the gap from the gulf of Mexico to the Northern states.

I then came to Midlothian from the Houston area as part of a relocation package after I was hired away by Nokia where I worked for 9 years in Cyber Security and International Business. After that I spent another 6 years doing the same for Hewlett Packard managing a multi billion dollar business unit and protecting some of the largest companies and government entities in the world. As my children entered into public school I decided I wanted to spend more time in Midlothian raising my children and less on international flights so I left the Corporate world to start my own local business that I have run for the past 10 years. I believe that my wide breadth of knowledge and experience uniquely qualifies me for a seat on the City Council.

When making decisions, how do you determine what is in the best interest of the city?

Personally I always look for the most information sources and data possible before making any decision. When it comes to making decisions on the council on any issue, I will look to the petitioners that made the request and all parties involved, I will read the recommendations made by the city staff and boards, and then do my own research into the issue to make sure I have all the information required before taking a position. I will also balance that information against the framework of the city regulation and the comprehensive plan for Midlothian. I will also speak to any constituents that may reach out to me on the issue to hear their input and desires. Taking all the above into account I will reach a conclusion that I believe to be in the best interest of the community as a whole that respects the individual freedoms provided by our constitution.

Please describe how you would react to a situation in which the Council voted 4-3 to approve a very contestable issue and you were on the dissenting side.

I will respect the outcome of a split decision as I will know that the people have spoken. As it is impossible for any individual to make everyone in a community happy, it is important that any governing body be made up of people that represent the differing views present in the people. A healthy City Council should hold the differing opinions that span the whole of the community at large. When a vote is not unanimous is a sign of a healthy process as you know that all of the people have had a voice. Democracy works by ensuring that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?

It is not so much the zoning that I would change but the willingness of the city to allow planned developments independent exceptions to base zoning. When developers have different goals for our community than what has been established by the comprehensive plan it is usually in the form of higher density which creates a ripple down effect throughout the city as a whole. The purpose of zoning is to provide the structure and planning by which city services are delivered and built. When we go against that plan our infrastructure cannot keep pace and the community suffers as a result.

How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in our town?

Anyone who knows me, or has even talked to me for a few minutes, knows that I am passionate about getting people to the polls. I find that people who vote regularly are those that stay knowledgeable about the issues and are willing to lend their voice. I will continue to use my enfluence to encourage more people to get involved in our city government and to make their voices heard. In addition to passionately advocating for better voter turn out,

I will always be available to anyone who reaches out to me and will help them to plug into the various boards and committees that they can interact with and serve on to help drive the direction of Midlothian.

What would you do to improve communication between city officials and the public?

This one is easy, City Officials cannot over communicate and they cannot be overly transparent. I will push to ensure that meetings are held at times that are convenient for the most residents possible and will use my position to personally communicate those meeting and issues on every platform available to me. They say that too many cooks spoil the broth, but the exact opposite is true for government. The more people we can get informed and involved the better for the entire city.

Have you ever changed your mind on an issue after hearing the arguments of the opposing side? If so, what was the issue and why did you change your stance?

I would never refuse to evolve on an issue if proven that my position on it was demonstrably wrong. Because of that I have grown on many issues over the years. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, politically I was an independent and believed it was better to cast a vote for someone I really liked that had no chance of winning rather than facing the fact that I was wasting an opportunity to actually effect the outcome of an election. I focused on the big National issues that I had little hope of changing.

As I’ve matured I realized that I need to be more pragmatic and to put my energy and behind the efforts, issues, and people that can truly make a difference. Serving on the City Council is not the exciting or glamorous way to change the world, but I believe it is where my efforts can make the most difference and is the best way I can contribute to my community.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I am from a small logging town in Southern Oregon and my wife grew up on a corn farm in Nebraska, and we met in 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 serve you by showing up to vote. Early voting starts April 24th and goes until May 2nd with Election Day on May 6th, and I’m asking you to please come out and give me your support