Italy City Council 2014 Candidate Questionnaire: John Droll

Kate and I have lived in Italy since 1992 when I retired from the U.S. Army. We have 3 sons; Harvey and his wife Jenny reside in Pearland; Joshua and Amber reside in Italy with Reagan, Tatum and Mia; Jordon and Jennifer reside in Waxahachie with Maddox and Liam. I have been a Special Education teacher since 1996 in the Desoto and Itasca school districts. I am currently the DAEP teacher for Itasca ISD.

I have attended 3-4 council meetings in the last year and have watched most of the remainder courtesy of the Neotrib. In addition to the meetings I’ve attended, I have talked with council members and city staff before and after meetings to give them my concerns and to ask questions about what is proposed. After the meeting concerning street repairs I tracked down the info on a company that contracts for that work and gave the info to the city. I believe it was last Thursday that I phoned a department head at 6:45AM with a problem, met with them about 4:45PM concerning another issue, and then met with a 2nd department head a bit after 5pm with another suggestion. Being involved is not just going to meetings. The 4:45 issue was concerning a problem some residents have every time there is a very heavy rain. When the forecast calls for such a rain, which hasn’t happened in awhile, I still drive over to look at one particular drain because of problems with it I learned about during my previous time on the council.

I believe my desire to help our city, along with my previous experience as a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, City Council, Italy Youth Baseball, and school organizations, have provided me insight on ways to work together with others to get things done. Working on the planned development out near the interstate showed me what potential we have if the economy rebounds in the long term. Helping pass the measure to give the citizens the opportunity to vote on increasing our sales tax has brought a different stream of revenue into the city which helps to keep the tax rate low. There were many folks who made Upchurch Field what it is. As president of IYBB I simply tried to keep up what Lloyd, Clifford, Donald, and the school started. Mike Thompson and Clifford McDaniel are real unsung heroes from the early days of those fields. And let’s not forget the Upchurch family who made it possible. Many folks since then and now have made it even better. The Stafford PTO had become inactive when I volunteered to get it going again many years ago. (This seems to be a cyclical issue.) Fortunately Tamara McCord and others helped me and we were able to start it up again. We also organized a candidate forum for school board candidates and pretty much filled the cafeteria at Stafford with interested citizens. Later on we also raised money to buy workbooks for students when the School Board was unable to fund them.

Why do I include so many names in my response? None of them have endorsed me. It’s to show that one person can’t address all the issues we face today. It takes citizens working together to make things happen.

There are many issues facing Italy, not the least of which is streets, water, equipment and water. I mentioned water twice because we cannot take our eye off that resource. Everything dies without water. To really fix our streets for the long term the city needs to pass a bond package, but we’re paying water and sewer bonds so that’s not possible. We must choose the best solution with the funds we have. That is not always the cheapest. I have concerns with the city doing the work with the number of employees it has now. I shared that concern with Dean last week. Can we have a contractor come in and repair the large cuts we make during repairs? That worked very well with the repair out at the interstate but it’s time for it to be repaired again. What is the county going to charge now for street work? There are a lot of unanswered questions. And add to that, if we’re going to do a major street renovation we might be able to get Atmos Energy to move any lines they have under that street so they won’t need to dig it up again. We need a lot of input to make the correct decision. Everyone needs to come together and make these decisions.

I was on the council when the vote was made to pay a salary to the Mayor. I voted against it then, I’m still against it. I said then and I’ll say now, that fundamental of a change should be left up to the voters. If elected, at budget time, I will ask the Mayor to voluntarily roll his $15,600 salary back to the $12,000 the council approved. Then the fall before the next Mayoral election I’ll ask that we place a salary for the Mayor on the City Council agenda again. In order to change that salary the action must be taken in the fall before the Mayoral election. It will NOT affect the current Mayor during this term. It takes affect AFTER the next Mayoral election. This should afford the citizens time to let the council know what they want, since so many say they are against it. Cuts to the budget can be made after much consideration of the effect.

The city, along with the EDC, should search out ways to market the area and vacant land to possible businesses. Is there any other type of infrastructure we could use EDC funds for that would make the area near the interstate more attractive? We need citizens to come forward with ideas to make the intersection of 77 and 34 more appealing. What do we need to do with the empty furniture store before it falls in? Growth and enlarging the tax base helps everything.

As I’ve tried to emphasize, one person cannot do this alone. I will work with the other members of the City Council to do what is best for the city. I will do my best. That is all I can promise you.