Q&A Midlothian City Council Candidate Walter Darrach Place 2

Walter Darrach headshot

What are some of the things you would like to accomplish if elected?

Going into my second term I wish to keep at the forefront of Midlothian the theme “Strength through community” This, I believe truly is the definition of that small town feel that everyone loves. As I work through the next term I want to address deficiencies in our processes so we are properly prepared and equipped when dealing with things like the growth and infrastructure needs. I would like to wrap all these things in a practice of smart spending. Addressing infrastructure, creating and supporting community programs, planning and building for the future and handling increased staffing needs only works if we are targeted with how we use the tax dollars we bring.

What made you want to run for this office?

I believe in Midlothian. Not only at this point in time but I am hopeful and expectant for our future success while cherishing our history and what has worked well to build us to the great community we are today. I bring with me a wide range of experiences in business, compliance and management that I believe aids me in how I approach and work as a member of the team to solve problems.

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

I believe the most important qualities that a city council member should have are above all honesty, integrity, organization, direction and strength to cast the sometimes unpopular vote in the moment for what is truly the overall benefit of our city and the residents who live here.

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

Well, currently I am serving as the Place 2 Councilman, and I have done this since 2020. I am also an Executive Board member for the MISD Mile program, a fantastic CTE center we have in our school district. Prior to serving as a councilman, I was vice chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission. I was previously the Precinct 106 Chairman for the Ellis County GOP and currently serve as the Council Liaison to the Midway Regional Airport board.

Discuss your top three priorities.

Keeping Midlothian, a safe, vibrant and wholesome place to live and raise a family is always at the top of the list for me in priority. I believe our small-town rural feel has been one of the greatest attractors to our community over the years and I think community connections are what will ensure our “small town feel” continues as we push through 40K people. So, ensuring community activities, like the upcoming Chamber of Commerce Wine and Arts festival, or the Parks Dept. Summer Concert series are properly supported is key. Youth sports and senior activity offerings also help to bring us together.

I believe we must be focused on our future and what we as Midlothian residents wish to see in our community and then properly plan for and execute those visions with a constant eye on infrastructure needs and ensuring we do not fall behind the curve in these needs while keeping a pulse on the cost and scope. We only have so much in annual budget, and we must work to keep our taxes as low as possible while also providing for our residents the service levels that have made Midlothian the place to call home for so many.

I believe no plan we lay will be successful without a diverse economy. Establishing vision and working towards our plans to ensure Midlothian has a robust and wide spread economy is probably the most important factor I believe will determine our future success. Having a strong mix of large and medium businesses investing in Midlothian will ensure residential tax burdens are lowered and we have ample employment opportunities for our residents here in town. Cutting through the red tape and paving the way for small business, locally owned will ensure the heart of our community carries though in our commerce. Things like restaurants and retail shops will help Midlothian residents re-invest their dollars back into their town so our community receives the maximum benefits.

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 Midlothian for 10 years almost to the day. I think the single difference between myself, and my opponent is perspective. I see Midlothian for all its great things today and I am excited and hopeful for tomorrow. Although I was not here when we had a population of 3.500 I do not believe that our best days are behind us simply because so many more great families and people have move here and joined in on keeping Midlothian so amazing. I believe knowing your neighbor, regardless of how many will keep us together. Midlothian is tight knit but that great group includes ALL of us not just some of us.

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

My vote comes from my values and perspectives. That is what got me elected. I utilize the tools and plans the residents have created or approved like the comprehensive, the future land use, the down town master, and the parks plan mix that with my core values and expertise, receive citizen input and concerns and weigh that all together to determine what is in the best interest of the city and our residents.

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.

This has happened probably more in recent years than in the past. I believe we have a council today that is looking at different issues than councils of the past and in a way, we are charting new territory. Some of the cases that have come before me have not been things previous councils have had to hear. This I think has produced more split votes than ever before however the result is still the same. Win or lose the vote we move to the next case with professionalism. We are a team and we have a purpose. I do not believe council should be 7-0 for the majority on every case.

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

I would like to see our zoning codes as a whole updated so that they alone produce the product our city and residents want. Since about 2006 we have mainly developed under the planning tool called “Planned Development” This is a totally separate set of rules and base standards for development in our city. The goal is to have zoning ordinances on the books that work, so deviations are not needed at every turn. Planned developments are just that, deviations from some or all our base zoning requirements.

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

I have always said I believe it is the responsibility of the city and our leadership to get the information out to the people and I would like to think I had a small part in the improvement I have seen over the last three years in how the city, our departments and our program partners get information out to the city. Our social media campaigns have increased dramatically. The functionality and effectiveness of our website is up tremendously.

Information is key for involvement. I believe we must have residents involved in and knowledgeable about the issues and tasks in front of us at the City Hall so that if there is a concern, or if there is a question everyone who wishes to be, can be part of the conversation.

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

Although I think we have dramatically improved in this area over the last 3 years there is always room for improvement. I would like to see the use of new technologies such as AI integrated into our website so that a resident can type in a question and get basic information and answers they seek. I would follow that up with a dedicated staff member(s) to serve as a starting point of contact for information when residents call into City Hall.

One area I do believe is currently under advertised at this time is the city text message notification system we have. When a resident is signed up for this program all press releases, activities, city calendar events will be sent to them as a text message keeping them up to date with the latest needed information.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would like to reiterate that serving my home city of Midlothian and all its residents has been one of the great honors of my life. It is hard to describe to everyone how much work goes into every area and aspect of the city. The motion of the City of Midlothian takes so many talented and dedicated people both as paid staff, resident volunteers and elected officials, where we are today is a testament to the love of generations past and I believe that even the leaders of our past would agree, we still have work to do.

I want to ask the residents of Midlothian for the honor and opportunity to continue in my current capacity of service to them as City Councilman, Place two. Please help show your support for me starting Monday April 24th 2023 during early voting and make sure to get your whole family into the polls by election day, May 6, 2023! Thank you, Midlothian Residents.