Interview with Gerald Farris, candidate for Irving City Council

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There’s an election in Irving on June 12th. The place 7 seat on the Irving City Council is up for grabs. Below, you will read an interview with one of the two candidates who will appear on the ballot for the upcoming run-off election.

To find out more on long-time Irving resident Gerald Farris, visit his website

Our People Place Interview with Gerald Farris

Why have you chosen this election cycle to run for the city council?

The timing for this election is significant for me for several reasons. I have enough tenure at my employer that I have 25 days vacation per year and accumulate vacation every two weeks. I also have the full support of my employer and family and have been encouraged by many neighbors and friends. In addition, the single member districts are more manageable as a candidate. And at nearly 52 years old, I owe my service to Irving. Irving is where I and my brother and sisters were raised. It is only fitting that one of us step to the plate.

Have you always been interested in public service?

I think it is in our nature to have some degree of interest in public service. But ultimately my interest has been driven by other’s desire for me to serve. I do not seek personal gain. My rewards are seeing others succeed.

When you look around at the city of Irving, can you list some strength you see in our city?

The obvious strengths are the citizens, business owners, city staff, educators and religious community. These are the folks in the trenches making this city what it is.

If elected, what are the three most pressing issues you hope the city council will tackle?

I could name more than three… But, not in any particular order of importance: 1) Kick starting the down town development. I think we would do wonders for the morale of this city if we get this moving and develop faith in the process. 2) Instilling in our city staff and council that the quality of our neighborhoods and schools is the citizen’s ultimate measuring stick of our city’s success. 3) Our 60/40 ordinance was amended back in October of 2009. The argument is whether this could ultimately lead to quality of life issues in the city or not. I would like to see the council revisit that to an end that addresses home owner fears.

What can elected city leaders do to stop the exodus of long time residents to places such as Bedford, Keller, Lake Dallas and other suburbs? What could make residents of those cities move here?

Increased quality, aesthetic shopping centers that draw people from other cities to shop here instead of the other way around. Greater support of our neighborhood associations and educating neighbors on what promotes increased property values. Finding land for and promoting new single family development in the southern part of the city. Changing the code enforcement department to “neighborhood enhancement” department with a more educational and proactive approach. Look for ways for renters to become home owners. Getting tougher on owners of abandoned homes. Being more responsive to the complaints of long time residents in regards to irresponsible neighbors or landlords.

Have you known anyone who has left Irving for another city close by? If so, what was their reason for leaving?

Yes. better Schools and “quality of life”.

What can you and the city council do to keep the Irving tax rates low? Can that happen while not limiting services?

I would first qualify that with a comment. We generally look for the best value for our money in most any goods or services we receive. This is no different with our tax dollars. Our elected officials have to hear from their constituents if the decision comes to trading diminished services or higher taxes.

What can you and the city council do to enhance the following areas of Irving: Plymouth Park, Irving Mall and its surrounding area and the area around Texas Drive and Rochelle where there is a very high violent crime rate?

I have often thought that Plymouth Park is an opportunity waiting to happen. A great location for people with layovers at the nearby international airport to shop. And a great central location for south Irving shoppers. Not to mention raising surrounding property values!

I spent an hour at the chamber of commerce back in March. I heard about many ongoing projects going on in Las Colinas. And I heard a lot of “we’re-gonna-get such and such store” about south Irving which we have heard for many years. I, as a citizen, am growing tired of the “we-are-gonna” from a Chamber of commerce that is paid 1.3 million dollars annually to promote business in Irving. Rochelle and Story would be another ideal neighborhood enhancement opportunity.

With Irving Mall, the city has met with Mall management in the past and was unsuccessful in getting commitment to improve its quality. Don Williams with the Chamber has told me that part of the problem is that the Irving Mall is one of the most profitable of the Simon owned malls! So what is their incentive to improve. It was my understanding that city staff met again in April and I do not know what the outcome of that meeting was. The Irving Mall is a sore subject with many citizens.

In short, the city can give incentives and act as moderators to attract improvements in businesses.

Another idea about neighborhoods may be to move the neighborhood associations under code enforcement where it seems to be a better fit to me rather than the communications department. (Note my idea of changing code enforcement to Neighborhood Enhancement in a previous question.) Code Enforcement is under the police department as I think it should be.

If elected, you would serve on various city boards or committees. On which boards or committees would you be most interested in serving and why?

The committees that most affect our daily lives. Possibilities are Animal Services, Youth Council, Preservation and Redevelopment, Sign Control, Parks and Recreation, Tree Board, Green Advisory and others.

Finally, are you enjoying this election process so far?

Yes. The election has been an awarding experience connecting with many different people with varied roles and interest in our city’s success. Irving citizens are a passionate people about their causes.