Two challengers in Arlington District 8 race say council has lost touch with residents

Posted Monday, Apr. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Nobody in the race for the at-large District 8 seat on the Arlington City Council is a newcomer to local politics.

The incumbent, Michael Glaspie, is a former Arlington school board member who won the race a year ago to fill the late Councilman Gene Patrick’s unexpired term. Challengers Joe McHaney and Richard Weber, who say the council listens to city staffers more than to constituents, have run for office several times.

Streets are one issue in this year’s race. All three said at a candidate forum last month that they want to see Arlington spend more on its aging road system. Glaspie said the council recently agreed to increase the street maintenance budget by $10 million to more quickly address the $425 million backlog of repairs.

Glaspie said he wants to continue his work on projects that he characterized as giving the city a face-lift: new standards for multifamily housing inspections and efforts to revitalize the New York Avenue and East Abram Street corridors.

“It’s been a long, long, long process,” he said of the inspection standards. “We want to provide residents the best place to live. When you do something like this, you help give them that confidence.”

He also said he’s been part of a newly strengthened relationship between the council and the school board, which have held joint meetings to discuss ways to leverage resources.

“We serve a lot of the same taxpayers,” he said.

McHaney, who has run for Tarrant County commissioner, the Tarrant County College board and the Texas House, said Arlington has become a “monument to our sports teams while our citizens flee to the south seeking safer ground where property values are protected, where schools return to and aspire to a level of excellence, where the infrastructure is strengthened and renewal is embraced and invigorated.”

“Since Tom Vandergriff left office we have increasingly become a bureaucratic city run by staffers where the citizen’s voice has been lost and largely ignored,” he said. “We desperately need the council to become a common-sense council that listens to and embraces the needs of the citizenry.”

He was arrested at Dallas Love Field in December 2007 when he mistakenly brought a handgun in carry-on luggage. He pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge, a class C misdemeanor, and completed 30 days of probation, according to Dallas County court records.

In 2009, his Mansfield-based business, Envirosol Environmental Services, was fined $29,000 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for environmental violations, records show.

Weber, a retired city employee who is a regular observer of council meetings, also ran for a seat on the council in 2006, 2007 and 2009. He also served on a school district bond committee.

Like McHaney, he charges that council members have lost touch with residents.

“The citizens came and spoke against high-density apartments, recycle carts and other items, all approved by the council,” Weber said. “The majority of this council needs to be replaced with citizen representatives.”

McHaney reported $1,300 in cash donations and $5,000 in in-kind contributions, according to campaign finance filings with the city. He has spent $300, records show.

Glaspie reported $1,600 in donations and $40 in expenditures.

Weber reported $100 in donation and no expenditures.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Patrick Walker, 682-232-4674 Twitter: @patrickmwalker1

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