"Real Leadership Begins With Listening"

The Story: Why I Ran for City Council

image28

  

My name is Deborah Morris, and for years I stayed out of sight in quiet downtown Garland. After retiring from a lengthy writing career that involved constant travel and public speaking, I had no intention to ever again become deeply involved in public affairs.

 

Times change. For me, the turmoil this city, and especially my district in the very heart of the city, experienced in 2017 at the hands of a citizen-deaf Council majority reawakened my fierce and protective love for Garland and its people.


I believed we could do better than that.

 

I ran for City Council in 2018 to restore a strong voice to Garland citizens, who by City Charter hold the highest level of authority in our City government. That involves actively partnering with citizens instead of excluding them from the decision-making process. 

 

Listening to different people’s frustrations, analyzing what can realistically be done about them, and looking—together!--for possible compromises or solutions only seems sensible. So many times, it’s possible to come away from the table with a win-win solution. 

 

In the 80’s our family lived in northeast Garland in a small house that backed up to a beautiful greenbelt, dedicated parkland donated by our developer. One day we came out to find all the trees flagged, and our neighborhood learned that the City Council had quietly voted to bulldoze the trees and build the new Centerville Road there.

 

As president of our neighborhood association, I went to the Council to ask them to consider re-routing the highway onto the open flood plain on the other side of the trees. They refused. They said the decision had been made long before, and that we shouldn’t have been surprised. 

 

That didn’t sound right. As a journalist I was used to sorting facts from fiction, half-truths, and outright lies. I went back and listened to dozens of the work session and council meeting tapes, and guess what? I found the work session just a few months before where our own councilman had suggested routing the highway over the greenbelt. When another councilmember asked if the neighborhood wouldn’t be upset, our councilman laughed and said something like, “By the time they find out, the trees will be down.” 

 

We went to the news. After a lot of public pressure the City Council finally agreed to the change. It ended up saving the City millions of dollars by doing away with the need for an expensive bridge. The City Engineer publicly pronounced it a huge “win-win”. 

 

That greenbelt is now a valued part of the Rowlett Creek Preserve.

 

I believe engaging citizens in decision-making is always the better way. 

 

Two years ago, this is what I promised to work toward: 

 

  1. Rebuild a healthy relationship between Garland citizens and the City Council which is supposed to serve them, not rule them with an iron fist;
  2. Encourage increased engagement and participation in City decisions among younger adults and minorities in District 2;
  3. Advocate for ongoing and increased street repairs and infrastructure improvements;
  4. Advocate for a new Animal Shelter to be quickly funded and built--but I will also push for immediate short-term improvements to the existing Animal Shelter, including bettering the conditions for both animals and staff.
  5. Promote Downtown area businesses, events, and improvements, and will advocate for a more welcoming and supportive City response to small businesses wishing to open in Garland.


If you examine my record, I believe you will find that I have made significant advancements in all these areas, as well as many others: DISTRICT 2 ANNOUNCEMENT


 I believe that together, we can continue to come up with better ideas, make better decisions, and enjoy better results.