By Breanne Holley
NDG Contributing Writer
How do we see potential growth in our communities of North Dallas? What should our focus be and most importantly where do we wish to see ourselves in the future?
Some of these were questions that were addressed in a March 25th candidate panel with the NAACP for City of Garland Mayor, City of Garland City council Member, and Garland ISD Trustee.
Many of these questions pertained to the effects that Covid-19 has had on the community as well as how best to address the issues that face black students in the school system. If there is one thing that we can all benefit from in North Dallas as well as the rest of the country right now it is reform in how we treat our BIPOC and how we help them in their “pursuit of happiness.”
One question that was posed to the uncontested candidates in the panel was the criteria that would be used in the economic development of the city of Garland? Would it be the voices of the residents or simply the funds of the city of Garland? John Grimley believes that, in order for the city to grow effectively, 95% of that should be based on what the people have to say. This does make sense as your community is your people.
Jeff Base felt like it should be a balance between what districts need the funds as well as the people’s voices.
Evan, a bright young eighth grade student posed another question to the candidates, and it was “what reasons do you believe nonresidents will come to Garland to spend their money.” Of course, tourism and outside money can definitely help any city grow.
Angie Whitney says that the mom and pop businesses, Firewheel mall, and the golf park and some good places for nonresidents to visit and enjoy Garland. As a matter of fact she had been coming to Garland since before she moved there permanently.
John Grimely had a different approach to the question and suggested that, “yes we do have Firewheel mall but also that it can be outshined by less savory shopping centers that could definitely use a bit of cleaning up. Work with what we have and shoot for better.”
Jeff Bass says “Downtown has a lot of variety and he would like to use the Bond program to help it develop even better.”
He said Firewheel town Centre is managed by Simon properties but “poorly” and he would like to get it out of his hands.
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The candidates all have good ideas and different visions and truly do want to see better for their community. As with any community the idea of moving forward and never stagnating is the goal. Another question was how to make sure Garland does not encounter the problems that other communities have and that ended being geared towards law enforcement.
Whitney feels that emotional intelligence is important when it comes to law enforcement being presented with a variety of situations. She says that she “will have the opportunity to coach them one on one to really help with that.”
Grimely believes a reevaluation of disciplinary actions is needed and better training. He says simply avoiding an issue does not work and that we could all benefit from better trained law enforcement.
All of candidates agree that the best way right now to communicate concerns and really get in touch with the people of Garland is through the social media but also to not forget the value that face-to-face conversations really has. Covid has made social interaction very difficult and people need not forget that often the best way to get to know how someone feels is to be able to see their face. People are made to be social not to be isolated.
The homeless population has definitely been a highlight as well and one question that stuck out was the idea of not just a homeless shelter but a state of the art homeless shelter that truly helps the homeless population get on their feet and back into the community.
Whitney proposed not just a roof over their head but a place that provides “mental health care, food, and showers” for the homeless to get to the root of the problem and truly help them. Definitely a really good way to put our money back into the community and make it healthy.
When it comes to the local school system a very important question that was posed by Evan to the Garland ISD trustee candidates that also seemed to resonate with a number of social issues presented in America today was “How shall we deal with the disproportionate discipline of black students and their white counterparts? Not only that but why does it happen?
It did not seem to be an easy question to answer, and there wasn’t much to be said on the subject.
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It was disheartening in a way but also something that had no easy answer and perhaps even made some uncomfortable. There is hope that, despite how uncomfortable the question may have made some, there will be a solution. There is no denying that there is a heavy imbalance in how BIPOC have been treated when it comes to disciplinary actions. The question extended into how best to prevent black males from dropping out of high school as well as helping black and Latino children perform at the same rate as their white and Asian counterparts.
Robert Selders, one of the trustee candidates made the observation that “being able to consistently provide resources” is the first step. Not only that but “broadband access in areas where it is not” is also needed. Developing communities so that all children are able to get the best education possible is definitely a priority especially with the way Covid has made it a lot harder to have people gather for classes. Remote learning is good but being able to have options as well as effective remote learning is important as well.
Daphne Manor, a GISD trustee candidate, definitely had an insider’s take on how children learn as well by having children of her own going through public, private, and charter schools. She made the observation that there is no “one size fits all” way for children to learn. That is very true people are different and learn differently and that should be taken into consideration when teaching as well. A good example is auditory versus visual learners.
Edward Moore, a candidate with 15 years of service in the community as well as someone who has been through the police academy also had ideas in regards to assets that were expendable and in regarding people’s access to utility providers when posed with the question. He mentioned that during the recent winter storm although the city did come through it well, it was not prepared and needed to address how to distribute power and electricity. Giving people an educated choice on providers for their electricity to prevent bills in the thousands during a situation like that is important. He said it wasn’t laid out well and needs to be stabilized. Edward Moore highlighted that “we need to know our budget.”
Altogether many of our candidates had very good ideas on how to help the city of Garland develop. There was a lot of out-of-the-box thinking and assessment of deep issues and how to make things better. There is much to look forward to in the coming election.