Renea Dauntes

Renea Dauntes

Renea Dauntes

Running for: Mayor of Amarillo

How she voted in the November 2016 city bond election: Yes for bonds 1 (streets), 2 (public safety) and 4 (parks).

What are your major campaign points and how do you plan to make them happen?

The foundation that sort of drives the reason why I'm doing this is community involvement. So being able to encourage people to be a participant in their city rather than at the whims of its government and the forces that be. I want people to actually engage in their city. So I'm going to hold different meetings where they can actually come and talk to me directly or find other council members that will do the same. Then there will be education services where we'll be able to inform the public on what the city actually does, what their tax dollars actually go to support, how the city takes care of their needs. Also what they can do for the city, how they can be on a board or run for elected office themselves. [This is] all with the intent and knowledge that it doesn't take a ton of money to do this, and it doesn't take a whole lot of time. It just takes a little bit of effort and dedication to improving our community.

Do you think the city should continue to issue bonds to fund future projects, or just use money allocated in the annual budget?

There's lots of ways to fund things. As a normal human being that had to slog through to make their lives work I understand that there are sometimes creative means of making money and making a dollar stretch. So we do have the opportunity to offer certificates of obligation, however that's not something that is always the first go-to thing. I think one of the main revenue funds that we do see is our sales tax revenue and if we have the ability to improve our visibility, we have the ability to increase that significantly. If we are able to make Amarillo a destination by having a strong community and encouraging people to stay here for a little longer, we're able to capture more of those sales tax dollars as they stay a day or two. There are significant opportunities to be had with people coming it. There's always, if necessary, the dreaded property tax increase or the issuing of bonds and more debt. All of those have to be taken into careful consideration. Just like every one of us takes our financial situation into account, we have to do the same with a large entity like the city. But I think one of the things we have tremendous potential for is improved city services and community involvement, which leads to a better atmosphere for people who are traveling through or people who do live here and are having to travel outside the city to get some of their services.

Do you think the city should have a role in economic development, or should that task fall solely on the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation?

I think the city has a hand in hand obligation to make the city a place where people want to relocate their businesses and families. I also think an education for our citizenry is important too because our citizens can play a role in economic development in bringing businesses, industrial or technological, here to the city purely from enthusiasm and support for what's going on here. So I think it's actually a three part system there that the AEDC works along with the city and the citizens also have a part to play in that as well.

What letter grade would you give to the current city council and why?

I'd actually give them a "B+." There are some ways that the city has been able to participate as a unit and improve things like allowing people to come in to develop housing for section eight housing. There are the issues with properties that needed to be attended to, to either be destroyed or removed in order to help with not only appearance but with safety. There's been the creation of different committees and groups that can allow for citizen input on things like recycling and the bicycle lanes and safety for riders in our city. Those things are really beneficial. One of the positive things, too, is the neighborhood plan for North Heights. I think that did a tremendous amount of good for raising awareness of what's going on in our city outside of those places that are featured on most of the news stories. We need to look at where is our lowest level of development and we need to pick that up. So that is a true testament to what they're capable of doing. There has been obvious issues with disagreements in a very public manner. We've had some issues with respect and decorum and sometimes whenever you're really passionate you do have a tendency to be verbal as well as passionate. So there is a bit of distrust that the general community has of the city council. If I was asked this question at the beginning [of their term], I would have given them a "C" or less. But as I learned more and more about what they have accomplished in the last couple of years, I give them much more credit for what they've done. But I do think there is considerable room for improvement and I look forward to being part of that process.

What do you think you would bring to the city council that's not there right now?

One of the strongest things that I have about me is that I am empathetic. I am able to listen to each and every individual and see a situation from their point of view. So predisposed ideals and biases that I may carry from my life previous don't necessarily come into play whenever I am making a decision that is right for the city, or being able to lobby for something that is beneficial to the community at large. My background is in anthropology and philosophy, and logic was my number one core class in philosophy that I enjoyed the most, and that's the reasoning and discussion and logic that we can make very sound decisions on everything from financial matters to how we go about working on our street system to how we place parks and which areas we need to improve the soonest. All of those things come down to understanding and just calm discussion and rational decision making.

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