Thursday, April 14, 2011
Interview: Grapevine City Council Place 6 candidate Kathleen Thompson
Thompson talks about why she's running, why she's different from her fellow candidates, and what she thinks are Grapevine's most pressing issues.
Kathleen Thompson is part of a three-person race for Grapevine City Council Place 6. She is running against incumbent Roy Stewart as well as Deverick Jordan. Voting takes place on May 14th. Please remember to vote.
Ms. Thompson was kind enough to answer our web interview questions in order to help the citizens of Grapevine get to know her. Here are our questions and her responses:
Grapevine Texas Online: Why did you decide to run for Grapevine City Council?
Thompson: My family helped found Grapevine more than 100 years ago, and I grew up in the community. But as the mother of two young boys, I’m running because I know Grapevine can do better! I will fight for more open and inclusive government and be a strong voice for fiscally responsible spending that uses your tax dollars more wisely and puts Grapevine neighborhoods and families first.
As the mother of a child in GCISD, I also will work to grow City partnerships with the school district — something especially vital in this dire economic climate, when programs, classes and teachers are being cut.
Grapevine Texas Online: What are your top priorities for the city?
Thompson: 1. Spending – The City Council is entrusted with residents’ tax dollars but our council has not been a good steward of public funds. I pledge to rescind the lavish taxpayer-subsidized health care that City Council members have given themselves. I also promise to fight to end the practice of paying City Council Members $8000 a year for “reimbursements” without requiring that members submit receipts or show that they spent money benefiting the city. These are our tax dollars, and we are entitled to accountability.
2. Accessible government – Residents must be and feel heard. I will submit a resolution, until it passes, that open Council meetings be video recorded, as they are in neighboring cities, so that residents may participate more fully. I will be a Councilwoman who is accessible and listens.
3. Quality of life – With D/FW Airport, Lake Grapevine, historic downtown area, and the DFW Connector, Grapevine is uniquely qualified to attract tourist sales tax dollars. I will put those dollars to use to benefit Grapevine families with longer library hours, updates to parks and trails and expanded services at the recreation and senior centers. Our city government currently spends too much on the wrong things.
Grapevine Texas Online: What separates you from the other two candidates currently running for this position?
Thompson: Fifteen-year incumbent, Roy Stewart, approves of lavish taxpayer-subsidized health benefits for himself and other Council Members, accepts thousands of dollars in “reimbursement checks” without documenting he has actually incurred an expense benefiting the city, and voted to pay an out-of-town consultant nearly $10,000 to tell the City Council what Grapevine voters think. The City Council is a volunteer position and Council Members should serve for the greater good and take far fewer our hard-earned tax dollars for themselves. As your Councilwoman, I pledge that you’ll always get a straight answer from me about any money I get from the city. I’ll also push to require mandatory disclosure of all reimbursements and benefits received by Council Members and the posting of all City policies with respect to those benefits.
My other opponent, Deverick Jordan, is a newcomer to Grapevine who has lived in our city only a short while and has never before voted in a Grapevine election.
I applaud his new interest in City government, but his lack of experience in City and Council matters makes him unqualified to serve. Mr. Jordan also has tried to bring state and national partisan politics into this race for a non-partisan city position. The citizens of Grapevine don’t need someone on the council who will devote most of his time to talking about state or national politics. As your Councilwoman, you have my pledge that Grapevine will be first and last for me. I am running because I love our city with a passion. I know our City because my family has been a part of Grapevine for more than 100 years and I better understand Council dealings because I have participated in City government for years.
Grapevine Texas Online: Name something you would do differently than what the current City Council does now?
Thompson: I will be a strong voice for cautious spending that will benefit the majority of Grapevine families – eliminating lavish health care benefits for council members, requiring proof of expenditures for reimbursements, and allowing for more citizen input into Council dealings.
Grapevine Texas Online: What is the most important issue facing the city currently?
Thompson: Traffic – The ultimate construction of the DFW Connector, the 8.4 miles of reconstruction and expansion of State Highways 114 and 121, will help attract new businesses (large and small) to Grapevine. Until then, the City must work to ease the impact on nearby businesses and commuters and should do everything possible to more quickly bring commuter rail to Grapevine, in addition to adding bike lanes for those currently commuting to work on our city streets to ease intense congestion.
Grapevine Texas Online: One of our biggest complaints with the city government is that they are not transparent enough. Is there anything you would do to help alleviate that problem?
Thompson: Grapevine is behind the times. There is no reason that our open City Council meetings should not be videotaped. I have asked for some time that open meetings be videotaped as they are in our neighboring cities. The City Council should make open and transparent government a priority.
Council “reimbursements” also should be documented for each expense incurred and all reimbursement requests and supporting documentation should be posted online. Citizen comments for each agenda item of a Council meeting should be allowed online. Documents regarding all Council policies should be available publicly.
Grapevine Texas Online: What is your favorite thing about living in Grapevine?
Thompson: As the descendent of Grapevine pioneers, I travel daily in the same areas that my great-grandparents and grandparents did. My family members helped found The Grapevine Sun and lay cornerstones on Main Street. I feel a deep connection to this area and want to do more to improve this great city, by giving the Council a new voice, new energy and new ideas.
Grapevine Texas Online: Why should the citizens of Grapevine vote for you?
Thompson: I was one of the youngest news producers at BELO and have been an active community leader for almost as long as I can remember. Through all this, I learned that solutions come, not from talk, but from rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. My commitment to the people of Grapevine is that you’ll have a councilwoman who is accessible and listens.
In both the corporate and non-profit sectors, I have managed personnel, volunteers and money efficiently and to the betterment of the organization and pocketbooks of those involved.
Grapevine Texas Online: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about your background?
Thompson: I am deeply and passionately committed to a better Grapevine. From more environmentally friendly and sustainable development to better waste contracts, I have worked closely with the Grapevine City Council — attending meeting after meeting, publicly advocating for improvements and meeting individually with Council members to build consensus and find solutions. I do not stop or take ‘no’ for an answer.
I’m the only candidate on the ballot pledging to target wasteful spending, make government accessible and protect our quality of life. I would appreciate your vote on Election Day.
Grapevine Texas Online would like to thank Kathleen Thompson for her time in answering our questions. We know time is precious as the election gets closer. We wish her the best of luck in her candidacy.
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