For Denton’s Place 6 City Council election, Greg Johnson is racing alone.
The 45-year-old real estate broker filed for the seat being vacated by current council member James King in mid-February, less than a week after longtime resident and information technology consultant Brendan Carroll, 44, had also filed. But by mid-March, Carroll withdrew from the race, saying he found it too hard to build momentum.
Although Carroll decided to get out nearly two months before the May 10 election day, the decision came too late to pull his name from the ballot. Denton County Elections Administrator Frank Phillips said the deadline to withdraw is set by the state Legislature so that elections officials can prepare. If a candidate were able to withdraw at the last minute and force the reworking of a ballot, that could throw an election into turmoil.
“About a month out, we have everything programmed so we’re ready when the election rolls around,” Phillips said.
Although Johnson has often quipped at candidate forums that he doesn’t want to be the first person to lose an election to someone who’s dropped out of the race — Carroll could still serve under the charter if he received more votes — Johnson said there was more to his decision to keep campaigning.
He’s reached out to supporters, put out signs and participated in forums in order to hear what residents have to say.
“I needed to educate myself,” Johnson said. “I owe it to them.”
He said he’s concerned about voter apathy in local elections and wants to understand better the lack of trust that residents have in city leaders.
The experience has been “fantastic,” he said. “I’m meeting people and hearing about what they want for Denton.”
In his opening statements at the forums, Johnson has often told residents he’s concerned about the city’s growth, which has been projected to nearly double in size in the next 20 to 30 years. He points to the rapid growth that came to southern Denton County cities such as Carrollton and Farmers Branch, which, in his view, really didn’t have a solid plan for who or what would go where.
“You’d better decide what you want or you’ll just get what happens,” Johnson said.
He wants to help the city shape a new culture, both inside City Hall and among the residents, to reinforce self-determination.
Johnson said he isn’t fooling himself, either, about Place 6 votes not cast for him.
“I know what those votes will mean,” Johnson said. “I don’t have any political aspirations and all that. I’m there to serve. I’m offering to serve with a servant’s heart.”
Early voting begins Monday and continues through May 6.
In addition to the Place 6 race, Denton has two other at-large races on the ballot and one special election for residents in District 2.
Three candidates are vying for the open mayor’s seat: university administrator Jean Schaake, attorney and real estate developer and investor Chris Watts and talk show host Donna Woodfork.
In Place 5, retired elementary school principal Dalton Gregory is facing local businesswoman Hatice Salih.
Gregory resigned his District 2 seat in order to run at large. Vying to replace him are two local businessmen, Glen Farris Squibb and John Ryan.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.
GREGORY M. JOHNSON
Occupation: owner/broker, Verus Real Estate Advisors
Prior political history: none
Background: small business owner and former corporate executive; board member, Denton Chamber of Commerce, Denton Economic Development Partnership, Denton MD (Denton as a Medical Destination) and Downtown Task Force.
Top priorities: Prepare for the growth that is coming by helping city staff and the processes they use become a positive experience for the residents and businesses that choose to locate in Denton; work to build on the “cool factor” that Denton has cultivated and foster a spirit of cooperation and inclusiveness for all residents; balanced budgets; address the infrastructure, which is old, and the streets, which are in disrepair, in order to compete with “new and shiny cities”; work to help attract major employers who will allow for an increased tax base, thus creating the future revenue needed to improve and maintain infrastructure without raising taxes on individuals.