Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Denton's new mayor

Continuing my coverage of the goings-on in Denton, Texas: congratulations are in order for Perry McNeill, a professor of engineering at the University of North Texas who has emerged victorious in a three-way race to replace term-limited Euline Brock as mayor of the rapidly-growing city.

McNeill was appointed to the city's Planning and Zoning Commission shortly after I began working there in 1999. In 2001, he ran for city council and, riding a wave of voter discontent regarding a perception that the existing council was elitist and "anti-business", defeated his district's incumbent with relative ease (more about that May 2001 election here). He served on city council for five years, becoming mayor pro tem in the process, and, having avoided a runoff with either of his two challengers by winning almost 57% of the vote, now moves over a couple of seats to the mayor's chair.

Two other incumbent councilmembers, Bob Montgomery and Joe Mulroy (who himself is an alumnus of the city's Planning and Zoning Commission), withstood challengers as well. McNeill's unexpired council term was filled by retired businessman Guy McElroy, who ran unopposed. He represents the only new face on Denton's seven-member council.

Thus, it would appear that the oftentimes-volatile Denton electorate doesn't really desire to see a major change in the city's direction right now. There does not appear to be overwhelming dissention caused by the city's proposed property maintenance code, nor does it appear that the recent controversy surrounding proposed redevelopment on Fry Street had much of an effect on voters, either.

Not everybody is happy with the outcome of Saturday's ballot. Local businessman Bob Clifton, a longtime critic of city government who finished third in the mayor's race, said that "the incumbents rode in on a lame-duck mayor’s well-oiled machine, and those voters tell me they’re satisfied with mediocre tax-and-spend government.”

McNeill, of course, disagrees: “[voters] say things are going in the right direction and they were pleased with that. The fact that two incumbents were elected and I was elected as mayor … I think it’s really very exciting.”

All Denton elected officials are limited to three two-year terms of office, so McNeill will have at least two years and as many as six at the city's helm.

No comments: