Wednesday, May 10, 2006

highland village municipal elections

Nestled near the ever-growing Flower Mound and only a short drive from DFW International Airport is the town of Highland Village, Texas: a small community that has caused a big uproar over the status quo in their municipal government. The citizens are banding together to vote for a change.

Last year, a controversial development plan that included a new Wal-Mart store as its anchor franchise infuriated residents. A survey was conducted and the majority of Highland Village residents opposed the Wal-Mart, but the city council approved the plan. Subsequently, a recall campaign began to circulate and the council members that approved Wal-Mart were voted out during the next election cycle.

Despite the outrage of the citizens, Wal-Mart continued to push their plan. It is a constant reminder to the concerned residents now that construction has begun on the super-size franchise store. As Saturday's municipal election draws near, the Wal-Mart remains a pivotal issue for city council candidates.

An interest group called Highland Village Unite, an organization that opposed the construction of the Wal-Mart and the extension of FM 2499, has endorsed three candidates in the municipal elections: Dave Bunnell for Mayor and Louis Robichaux and Dan Ford for City Council. These three candidates have also received the endorsement of sitting council members Brian Fiorenza, Austin Adams, and Fred Busche, who were all elected last year because of their opposition to the Wal-Mart plan.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, the candidates sparred off on the Wal-Mart issue during a candidate forum. The biggest issue at hand was whether the city government should make decisions based on public opinion or personal judgement.
"It's evil to disregard what the majority of citizens tell you to do," mayoral candidate Dave Bunnell said.

His opponent, City Council member Dianne Costa, responded: "Where would Moses be if he took a poll in Egypt? Where would Jesus Christ be if he took a poll in Israel?"
Highland Village Unite feels that Mayor Pro-Tem Dianne Costa and the candidates trying to get elected on her coattails (newcomer Scott McDearmont and incumbent David Watrous) will abuse their power if elected and disregard the will of Highland Village citizens. Dianne Costa herself has affirmed this: "My public charge in a representative form of government is to do my due diligence and, with all possible information gathered, make decisions not based on my personal preference, but on what my conscience tells me is the best possible decision." In other words, she is willing to vote against the will of her constituents if her conscience tells her to do so. It must have really been an issue of conscience when she decided to vote in favor of the Wal-Mart development deal.

Candidate Louis Robichaux is employing the same strategy, saying that incumbent David Watrous did not make a decision that was aligned with the will of the people when he voted for Wal-Mart. Robichaux wants to open communication lines even further to be sure that, when elected, he votes according to popular opinion.

Mr. Robichaux said the city should use a scientific polling system to gauge residents' views on important issues. The council would vote based on what residents want.

"If I thought Wal-Mart was a great idea and our statistically valid survey showed two-thirds of the people did not want big-box development, I'm going to let the citizens determine the future of the city," he said. "Who am I to substitute my views for the views of who elected me?"

Mr. Watrous said the council receives plenty of feedback through public forums, e-mails and conversations with residents.

"The goal was to do this in the best interest of the entire community and provide retail outlets closer to home that provide much-needed sales tax revenue," he said of the Wal-Mart decision.

In essence, Watrous has no qualms about putting aside what the majority wants. Instead, he will vote on important matters to the city without input from the people that have chosen to live there.

Some, like Costa, may point to other times in history when a majority opinion was wrong. At one time the majority held an opinion that was pro-slavery. Unfortunately for her argument (and her campaign), Wal-Mart is not as monumental an issue as slavery. This is simply a case of a town that had a master plan and held an anti-big box retail mentality that was thwarted by its elected officials. Highland Village realizes that it is time once again to "throw the bums out" and finally have an entire city council dedicated to the will of the people of their city.

NTL recommends that Highland Village residents vote for Dave Bunnell (Place 1, Mayor), Louis Robichaux (Place 4), and Dan Ford (Place 6). Show the status quo the door and prove that you mean business. Vote this Saturday, May 13, at the Highland Village Municipal Complex.


The Gonzo Muckraker said...

I write for The News Connection (Flower Mound/Highland Village newspaper) and I recently updated our website's voter guide (we call it "Electronic Town Hall") with a podcast of Dave Bunnell's platform, as well as podcasts by Jody Smith and Jim Lang, both vying for FM Mayor. I also posted a podcast of the FM citizen's forum from last week. Check it out --

I also have a blog under the moniker "The Gonzo Muckraker" ...

Nice to see other active liberals in the community.

Bradley said...

Hello! I think we met when you came to the Flower Mound Democrats meeting to cover Tim Barnwell's speech. Thansk for that information, I'll check it out.

Anonymous said...

So, Costa wins by 22 votes, but Watrous loses.

Costa 992
Bunnell 970

Robichaux 1003
Watrous 935

McDearmont 1062
Ford 874

Bradley said...

Yeah, anon... I thought those were incredibly interesting election results. For some reason, I thought the FBR group was going to get ushered onto the council to join the FAB group... you'd think that HV would want that. Oh, well.

PredaShrek said...

Well... The Highland Village Wal-Mart is up and running now. It is absolutely gorgeous and my wife and I have even incorporated shopping trips there as part of dates before. Highland Village is blessed to have a mayor who makes decisions based on the community's best interests as opposed to the will of the people. What's popular is not always right and what's right is not always popular.