Denton is a great city. In fact, in many ways, thanks to the creativity, ambitions, and vision of our citizens and institutions, we are a world-class city. It is because of this that we should seek to be a city on the cutting-edge of civic possibilities.
A great city deserves great vision and big ideas. Go here to see what I’ve already accomplished and keep reading to see just a few of my ideas on where we should be heading…
IDEAS FOR THE ECONOMY
- Become the #1 Startup City in Texas - we have all the ingredients to significant grow our economy from within. Let’s get a plan, set some metrics, and do this.
- 1 Gigabyte per second Fiber Connectivity for Every Home and Business - this will take changes to state legislation or creative partnerships with private providers, but it is hugely important. Fiber is to the 21st century what electricity was to the 20th.
- Update our Economic Development Strategy - include high-tech and other industries that align closely with our current workforce and university research strengths in order to keep our best and brightest here.
- Tackle Poverty Locally - our median income is low, our poverty rate is high, 1 in 2 single moms are living in poverty, and nearly 45% of our children are on free/reduced lunches at school. It is time to address these issues with our economic strategies and make sure our prosperity is one that everyone can take advantage of – cities will be taking the lead on this issue in the 21st century, so let’s start now.
IDEAS FOR EDUCATION AND OUR YOUTH
- Continue Mentor Denton Initiative - we set the goal to get 10,000 mentors matched with 10,000 at-risk kids. We quickly scaled to 1000 the first year – let’s keep moving.
- Broaden PreK Initiative - not just a school problem, this is a social, economic, and justice problem. Let’s develop a 5 year plan – using schools, rec centers, libraries, neighborhoods, churches, and businesses – to get our youngest citizens and their parents off to a good start.
IDEAS FOR NEIGHBORHOODS
- Create distinct “districts” and brand the heck out of them - having an identity to rally around goes a long way. Focusing first on our core neighborhoods, the first couple rings of neighborhoods around downtown, find a way to bring neighborhoods and connected businesses together into little vibrant centers of place. Think back to my “Thinking Beyond the Square” article.
- Identify opportunities for DIY public art - painting dumpsters, making art out of a utility pole, painting murals on building sides or underpasses – identify for the neighborhoods what CAN be done and let them loose to do it.
- Reform Neighborhood Grant Program - I watched when several neighborhoods got excited when we created this program. They came with ideas, people, and enthusiasm. Most of those ideas never got off the ground – that tells me we are making it too difficult. Let’s fix this.
IDEAS FOR CIVIC INNOVATION
- Open Data in Denton - governments hold huge amounts of data that, if unlocked and available real-time in a machine-readable way, can be developed into innovative solutions for cities and citizens (think how government weather and GPS data has transformed our lives).
- Develop an City Office of Innovation - new civic ideas need a place to incubate, get piloted, and scaled where failure is accepted as part of the culture of creativity. Let’s develop a space for innovative staff teams to form around innovative ideas and create a culture of innovation at the city level in Denton.
IDEAS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
- Greenest City in the Nation - we have standards for green buildings and green products, but there has yet to be a recognized standard for cities. Let’s team up with UNT to develop this standard, using Denton and our robust Sustainability Plan as the living laboratory, and set the right goals to be #1 on the list.
- Fix the Fracking Problem - no matter our successes in many areas of sustainability (and we have many), the fact that we are on a very well-played part of the Barnett Shale and have been and continue to experience the consequences of this will always be an asterisk on any of our accomplishments. We need to be aggressive, see our current policies as works in progress that are always up for modification, find and implement best practices, and, when it makes sense, work with the industry to find creative solutions.
IDEAS FOR GETTING AROUND DENTON
- Fix our streets - it’s time to find a plan that fully funds our street reconstruction and maintenance. Even if it takes 10 years to get there, let’s have a plan that no longer depends on debt funding.
- Think bigger about our Rail Trail - Think Katy Trail in Dallas. Think how other trails can tie in.
- Connect the Walk - starting with the square and moving outward, identify and fix all spots that provide obstacles to walkers, wheelchairs, strollers, and tricycles. This, too, requires a funding fix.
IDEAS FOR CITIZENSHIP
- One stop online shop for all volunteer needs and volunteers - with 48,000 college students, a bunch of willing young people, active churches, non-profits, and civic-minded businesses, there shouldn’t be a need in this community that goes unmet. We just need to coordinate our efforts. There’s an easy technological fix for part of this problem.