Questions and answers that have been posed to Vaughan Wynne-Jones during this campaign.
1. Why are you the best qualified candidate?
I believe that the current solutions being offered to address the challenges we face as a city are not being adequately acknowledged or responded to by the sitting council. I believe my years of experience managing change, and working in rapidly changing environments, combined with the experiences I had being an EMT working in South Dallas, put me in a unique position to respond to change.
2. What are the current needs of your district/area and what are your priorities for addressing them?
Our city has been through some challenging times over the past year. Many of our residents and small business owners are barely hanging on, and some are already going under. Our first priority should be them. Reach out to those in need, find out what they need, and help them get what they need.
3. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the city’s budget and services, as well as the lives of residents. How would you grade your city’s response and what would you do differently?
The initial response was good. The city cancelled events, encouraged following CDC guidelines. Much of their response later was hampered by the edicts from Austin, and confusion between the information scientists were giving, and the state and federal government was providing. We would have liked to have seen more communication with citizens and business, and more attention paid to their needs during this crisis.
4. How should the city address the availability of affordable housing? What role should city government play in responding to pandemic-related evictions?
There are so many contributing factors, that there is no one solution. Part of the solution would be to bring back the idea of company housing, for large companies that aren’t paying enough for citizens to both live and work in the same town. There are other things we can work on together as a community. As much as the City has the power to do so, it should pursue every avenue to get relief to homeowners and renters.
5. How to best ensure public safety is an important topic. What are your thoughts on balancing the funding and responsibilities of both police and community services?
Public safety is a necessity and priority, and the way we ensure the best public safety is by continually re-examining the issues we face, and how best to address them. Reallocation of funding to public services that can prevent or reduce most safety issues could be key.
6. In the last term, what do you think was the most important vote? Why? How did or would you have voted on the issue and why?
Marijuana legalization is one of the things that could help turn the tide on economic recession. It’s worked in other cities and states, has provided good paying jobs, and has reduced the burden on police, health and social services significantly.
7. Do you think it is ever appropriate for state laws to override local control of issues that affect the city? If so, please provide an example.
When it’s water fountains, yes. When it’s pandemics no.
8. The recent “big freeze” caused many residents to go without power or water for hours or even days. What do you think of the city’s response? How would you work to improve electric/gas/water infrastructure so this never happens again?
Mayor Mike Evans spoke very strongly about the problems caused by the State, and Ercot’s policies which led to power outages and water issues in many places. We need to strengthen our infrastructure to cope with increasing extreme weather events.
9. Do you feel your City government has adequate communication with its residents? If not, how can it be improved?
I believe that the city has made some attempts to involve the community, however there is still much more that can be done. From simple things like a city app that can let people know when their next trash day is after a holiday, or what roads are under construction and why, to questionnaires and surveys to reach them directly and help them feel and become more involved in their city.
10. How do you expect your City’s revenue to be impacted by the pandemic? How will you prioritize service needs with city revenue?
Property taxes will remain largely unchanged, Sales tax is likely to be down. In terms of priorities right now, I believe we should be focusing on getting our citizens and businesses that have been negatively impacted by this crisis, back on their feet, and doing a better job of preparing for future crises.
11. What, if anything, should be done to ensure that all members of your community can enjoy a healthy, sustainable, and protected environment?
We need to find ways to help businesses and individuals survive and thrive as times change. We should be encouraging small businesses to set up shop here by offering incentives, short term tax breaks and help with the SBA, and a mentoring program. For larger business looking to relocate, we need to work with them to develop affordable housing, so their employees can live and work in Mansfield.
12. What are the most critical issues facing the city council, and what solutions can you offer?
Many businesses have been hurt during this pandemic. Many are floundering. In addition, nearly 3000 of our citizens are living below poverty level, and need help. Others are barely making it. We need to connect these groups with the municipal and philanthropic resources they need to get back on their feet, and to ensure they have a path to recovery, thereby ensuring our wonderful city can grow and thrive.