The Aubrey City Council election has four contested races on the May 10 ballot, including three incumbents who are vying to retain their seats.
Voters also are being asked to approve a municipal development district that would allow the city to expand sales tax collections beyond the city limits to its extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Perhaps the most contentious race is in Place 1, where incumbent Deborah Goin is facing a challenge from Place 2 council member Chris Rich. In Place 3, incumbent Brandy Pounds is facing challenger Sherri Wineberg, and in Place 5, incumbent Jeff Perry is facing Brandon Stinchcomb. In the open Place 2 seat, Chris Huber is facing Wayne Green.
Key issues the council will need to tackle in the coming years include managing the city’s debt, commercial growth and improving the operating budget.
In recent years, Aubrey has faced a series of financial challenges, including a reduced credit rating and a dwindling revenue fund.
Earlier this year, however, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services raised Aubrey’s rating to A-plus, noting that the city’s financial health and economic performance is improving because of a strong economy and budgetary flexibility.
Early voting begins April 28 and continues through May 6. Council members serve two-year terms.
The creation of the Municipal Development District would allow the city to dissolve its economic development commission and form the district.
There are currently 24 municipal development districts in Texas and four are in Denton County, according to the state comptroller’s office.
If approved, the city would be able to collect sales tax in the extraterritorial jurisdiction, an area outside the city limits that generally is considered a target for growth.
Cross Roads was the latest Denton County municipality to create a municipal development district, with residents voting 122-66 to approve the district in May. Other municipal development districts in Denton County have been approved by Lakewood Village, Corral City and Oak Point municipal development districts.
The Place 1 race pits one council member against another.
Goin, 59, an accountant, faced no opposition in her re-election bid for Place 1 during the last election. But this year, she’s facing a challenger who currently sits with her on the council — current Place 2 City Council member Rich, 36, who describes himself as a customer engineer.
Goin has been in office since 2006 and also serves on the library board, the Aubrey Chamber of Commerce board, the Aubrey Historical Society board and as president of Keep Aubrey Beautiful. She has also worked to bring new business downtown and infrastructure to the city park.
“I love the community and I want to continue with the improvements we’re making,” she said. “I want to continue bringing in commercial and residential developments, too.”
Goin admits she has a packed schedule, but she does not believe it hinders her performance on the council.
“I’ve been doing this for years,” she said. “I was raised to be involved in the community and to be a hard worker.”
Rich said he decided to challenge Goin for Place 1 because he believes it’s time for Goin to step down to make way for new leadership.
“My opponent had consistently voted to pass budgets during her eight years on City Council that left the city at a near-zero or below-zero financial position,” he said.
But Rich said the city has made great strides in the past two years and is finally above water financially.
“When I was first elected to council, the city had three days of operating budget in reserves,” he said. “Council set a goal of getting to 90 days of operating budget in reserves and we are currently at 87.”
The challenges during the next two years will be to keep Aubrey heading in the right direction, he said.
“We have money in the bank. We have a comprehensive plan in place so we can dictate how the city will look and how it’s laid out as development comes in,” he said. “Aubrey’s main weakness is debt. Paying down the debt will allow us to lower our tax rate, allowing you to keep more money in your family budget.”
Two political newcomers are running for the open Place 2 seat left vacant by Rich’s decision to run in Place 1.
Huber, 34, a shop foreman, said he decided to run for Aubrey City Council because the future of Aubrey is important to him and his family.
“I am eager to play a large part in the well-being of our community,” he said. “I intend to continue to keep the course the current council has been on with regards to paying down Aubrey’s debt.”
Huber said he also wants to address the subsidizing of public services to neighboring communities.
“Aubrey is a terrific community, very family oriented, and the residents are some of the nicest we have had the pleasure of meeting,” he said.
Green, 69, who is retired, is also seeking the Place 2 seat.
Attempts to reach Green for an interview were unsuccessful.
In Place 3, incumbent Pounds is being challenged in her bid for re-election by Wineberg, 33, a respiratory therapist.
Pounds, 39, a counselor, said she has a vision for Aubrey and wants to ensure the vision is carried out.
“I am running for re-election because I want to maintain the momentum of the current council,” she said. “The positive growth we have had in the last 18 months, to include an increase in our credit rating to an A+, is unprecedented in the history of Aubrey.”
Pounds has been involved with the downtown revitalization and she said she plans to continue projects if re-elected.
“To start, our staff is amazing and have been a strong asset to the current and future growth of this city,” she said. “Secondly, we would be nothing if not for our police, fire and EMS. They are the backbone to our security as a community. We are so fortunate to have full-time employees and 24-hour coverage in a city this size.”
Some of the city’s weaknesses, Pounds said, include a high tax rate, inadequate infrastructure and “our large debt.”
“As a member of council, I plan to push to use our new surplus income to fund our infrastructure and pay down our debt,” she said.
Wineberg said she wants to create a positive city that people are proud to call home.
“It is my goal, if elected to the Aubrey City Council Place 3, to assure the citizens that measures are in place to always look at the big picture when preparing for the growth of Aubrey,” she said. “I want to support growth that can offset the rising cost of cities doing business. There needs to be a balance of commercial and quality residential development.”
Wineberg also said the city needs to work to rebuild tarnished relationships with surrounding communities, agencies and associations.
“Aubrey and the surrounding areas are all too small and need to assist one another in planning and agreeing on how the growth will affect the area,” she said. “I think we have missed some great opportunities to build stable and lasting relationships that would have benefited the citizens of Aubrey.”
She said she also wants the city to be transparent and communicate effectively with residents.
“If you have questions about something and never get the same answer twice, you start to develop distrust in that system,” she said. “We cannot grow and be ‘Aubrey Proud’ if there is distrust and uncertainty in what it is we are proud of.”
Place 5 incumbent Perry is seeking his second term on the council against challenger Stinchcomb, who previously held the post.
Perry, 49, juvenile probation officer, said he decided to run for council two years ago for the same reason he’s seeking re-election.
“I want to create a better city for my kids to grow up,” he said. “We’re not done and we still have more work to do. I always try to do what’s best for the residents. I want everyone to know that I make decisions based on what they want, not what I think is best.”
Perry said the city has made great strides in the past two years to repair its image and to chip away at the city’s debt.
“When I was elected two years ago, we were on the brink of bankruptcy,” he said.
Perry says the city has made some tough decisions since then and now has almost three months’ worth of operating expenses in its reserves.
“I hope to be at the point this year to be able to reward some of the departments who really had to bite the bullet over the last couple of years to help get the city budget to where it is today,” he said.
Stinchcomb, 33, a business owner, sat on council about four years ago and decided to step down because he believed the city was on a good path.
“But I was wrong,” he said.
Stinchcomb said the city has many strengths including the city services that have continued to grow despite budget concerns.
“The city functions well,” he said. “But the right decisions need to be made to manage the growth.”
Stinchcomb says he’s eager to reclaim his old seat to make sure the city is managed properly and that residents have a voice on the City Council.
“I would go out of my way for each resident,” he said. “I want to hear all of the concerns and issues. I want to know what they think is important.”