Q&A with John

John discusses his issues and strategies in the 2015 Dallas Morning News Voter Guide. Below are excerpts:

Why are you running for this office?

I want to build upon the momentum that I've seen in Farmers Branch – a city that I've come to love. This city has a prime location and a neighborly spirit that should continue to attract residential and commercial growth. My military and corporate experiences have taught me how to build teams, steward resources and develop strategies to shape and promote Farmers Branch as a great community within the Dallas area. I want to make a difference.

Why should voters choose you over your opponent(s)?

I bring a fresh perspective and wide range of leadership skills. My experiences in construction and new family housing in the Corps of Engineers give me a firm foundation in continuing to revitalize our aging infrastructure, commercial properties and housing. I have led large organizations and managed multibillion-dollar programs. I have crafted long-term strategic plans for military and corporate organizations. I've worked with diverse groups to build coalitions and consensus on hard, strategic problems. I have key skills that make me a strong candidate and the right choice for this community.

What is your city’s one greatest need and, if elected, how would you address it?

Our city needs to move beyond the issues that have divided citizens in the past. We need leaders who can bring people together. I believe there's much more that unites this city than divides it, and I can help build consensus across the community.

Where does the development or redevelopment emphasis need to be in your community? How would you address the barriers?

Farmers Branch has emphasized redevelopment for several years now. Revitalization has been a major focus in aging neighborhoods and in the commercial area called the Four Corners. We need to continue making progress. The Mustang Station area, near the DART rail, is a great location for bringing in new restaurants and shops. The community's Firehouse Theatre is another prime location to expand, ideally with a focus on the arts. The Mercer Crossing area is just beginning to expand housing opportunities on the west side of the city. Finally, the commercial area toward the Galleria was built in the 70s and should be reexamined for zoning due to its location and accessibility. The only barriers are of our own making. I want to revisit and hone our long-term strategic plan and find ways to cultivate growth in Farmers Branch that reflects our vibrant character, tradition and way of life.

What challenging demographic changes have been taking place in your city? How should the city respond?

Our most challenging demographic change is the aging of our population. This reflects the trend across the U.S. with baby boomers reaching retirement. Farmers Branch needs to attract and retain the next generation of families to keep our city dynamic. Currently, there is a lack of mid-range, available housing. My daughter is a realtor who recently helped a family relocate to Carrollton. They wanted to stay in Farmers Branch, but there were simply no houses available in their price range to accommodate their growing family. We have to address this issue with thoughtful restoration and new construction of zero lot line  patio homes and single-family houses. We should also build on the success of the Evergreen Senior Apartments in Mercer Crossing and examine more ways to provide for seniors modern, safe and active communities in the heart of Farmers Branch.

Please assess your city’s crime picture and what you would try to improve or change, if anything.

Farmers Branch is known for its great police department. Crime is at a 15-year low in the community, and response times are among the best in Dallas. Our crime rates are well below the national average; however, our theft rates remain above it. In 2014, 94 percent of all crimes in the city were theft-related crimes. I would like to partner with the police and our citizens to help find ways to reduce this statistic.

What new traffic or transportation initiatives should your city undertake?

The DART station has been completed, planning for the Marsh Lane Bridge project is underway, so the city is making good progress on transportation initiatives. The passage of the bond issue last year provides long-term funding to repair and resurface the roads. As the 635 and 35 interstate improvements are completed, we should look for opportunities to beautify the city's major entrances. People should know they are entering a community of choice when they leave the highway.

Does your city deliver services in the most cost-effective manner? Please be specific about improvements that could be made.

Farmers Branch is known for its top-notch service to the citizens. We enjoy responsive and effective police and fire departments, beautiful community parks, free trash pickup, and senior and recreation centers. The city also has responsibly outsourced certain services. We should strive for the most cost-effective and technologically advanced solutions, but the primary goal should always be excellent service to citizens of Farmers Branch. Any changes need to be evaluated in this context.

Please assess the property taxes levied by your city and whether it has the right balance between the residential and commercial base. Would you take any initiatives in this area?

Farmers Branch has one of the lowest residential tax rates in the Dallas area. Its commercial tax rates are lower as well. In Farmers Branch nearly 80 percent of our assessed revenues come from our commercial base. This allows the city to maintain its focus on high quality services, while keeping overall assessed tax rates low. We are in a great position right now. In order to keep residential rates low, we need to continue to attract and retain businesses in Farmers Branch while also balancing them with our residential development.

How would you improve the quality of life in your city and,    if appropriate, pay for any new programs?

People in Farmers Branch want more options for shopping and dining. We need more gathering places to meet socially for coffee, dessert or Sunday brunch. I'd like to see us keep more dollars in Farmers Branch. Additionally, I'd like to see us expand upon the success of the Firehouse Theatre and emphasize the arts in our community. We can and should find cost savings by improving cooperation with the surrounding communities. The North Texas Emergency Communication Center is projected to save the city $3.8 million by combining 911 service with other surrounding cities to eliminate redundancy and improve response times. I always say, "Show me the business plan first." Let's see what make financial sense and evaluate how we leverage modern technology to free up city resources for reinvestment.

Please rate the transparency of decision-making in your      city hall.

One factor in my decision to run for office was a perceived lack of transparency in dealing with Addison on the Farmers Branch Creek ecology and water flow problem. As I became more involved with this issue, I had unanswered questions about both past processes and current decisions. I've heard similar concerns voiced by other citizens. I wanted to become more involved so I could better understand the actions our council is taking. From my days at West Point as a member of the Honor Committee, integrity has been my guiding principle. Throughout my time as an Army program manager, I have always been subject to the Federal Procurement Integrity Act and maintained the highest ethical standards. I am someone who can be trusted. I hope to bring that trust to this office while finding ways to communicate with citizens and involve them in our processes. 

What is an uncomfortable truth about your city that voters must confront?

The uncomfortable truth is that Farmers Branch is still very much divided in the aftermath of the immigration lawsuit.  This issue was divisive and hurtful.  We have to unite as a community.  The lawsuit is over, the funds have been expended, and the judgment has been rendered.  Our reputation was harmed.  I think it's time to put that behind us.  We can't live in the past; we can only live in the present.  I want to help all our citizens find the things that unite them and use that energy to propel us forward. I want us to work together to build a vibrant Farmers Branch for our children’s children.

To view the whole questionnaire for John and all the candidates, visit the Dallas Morning News website here.