A candidate for Irving City Council has been hit with repeated allegations of impropriety and potential harassment by political opponents and members of the homeowners association where he serves as president.
Matthew Varble, who is running for District 5’s city council seat, is the president of the University Park Estates Homeowners Association and works as the director of labor and employee relations for Aramark.
Varble told The Dallas Express that his experience as HOA president led him to run for city council.
“It’s kind of like being a city councilman for a much smaller area,” he said. “So I thought, you know, I need to think bigger. … and because of the accomplishments we’ve had in our association, a lot of people said … ‘you really should think about running for that seat.’”
However, some residents within the community allege that Varble’s time in the position has been mired by controversy. They claim that Varble has routinely engaged in harassment, intimidation, and censorship. One resident asked his neighbors on social media last year, “Have we come under a dictatorship?”
Margaret Tichelaar has lived in the neighborhood since 2007. She told The Dallas Express that Varble “seems to think he can do whatever he wants to do, that he does not need the approval of the homeowners, that he’s free to act as he pleases.”
Furthermore, she claimed that Varble’s actions are seen as threatening and particularly troublesome to the women in the community.
“There are so many women who had been harassed by him that, that women in the neighborhood now say, I mean, we all think he has something against women,” she suggested. “He won’t admit it. He’ll say, ‘No, I love women. I love women.’”
Tichelaar claimed that Varble used his position and influence on the board to extend his term as president without having an election, “So a lot of people were up in arms about that.” When there was a meeting to discuss the matter, “a lot of people stood up, and he threatened them all.”
“This one woman I know who was there was so shaken up — she’s never been so shaken up — and she didn’t even open her mouth. But yet when he started accusing people, he started accusing her,” Tichelaar alleged. “Well, she goes home and tells her husband about it. Sometime in the next few days, Matt calls up her husband and said, ‘Get your wife in line.’”
“I know for a fact there is at least one woman who has moved out of the neighborhood because she felt physically threatened by Matt,” she claimed.
The Dallas Express spoke to multiple other women who declined to go on the record for fear of reprisal.
Varble has emphatically denied the allegations, telling The Dallas Express, “The one thing I can say is that, in general, there is always some sort of drama or antics within a homeowner’s association. It’s the most I can say.”
He added later, “Many things may not be as accurate as being described by whoever it is you’re talking to because it sounds like it may be individuals that have an axe to grind.”
Another resident, Natalie Johnson, explained to The Dallas Express that Varble “somehow became a moderator for our neighborhood page on Nextdoor, and he was cutting out vital information … and we were trying to get the information out so they could have the full story and he would delete it.”
In an ongoing lawsuit between the HOA and resident Toby Richker, Richker alleged, “Mr. Varble has engaged in a pattern or practice of censoring or silencing viewpoints critical of his actions or character, including by abusing his position as a reviewer on the social-media platform ‘Nextdoor’ to cause the deletion of posts expressing such viewpoints.”
In the same lawsuit, resident Jason Broeckel alleged, “Mr. Varble has extensively used Nextdoor to argue against the community’s criticisms. In 2022, he obtained ‘reviewer’ privileges on Nextdoor, which enable him to delete posts by community members.”
In messages disclosed in the filings, Varble admitted to deleting some messages and told residents, “If you don’t want that to happen then don’t insult me or other people and quit making disrespectful statements.”
Regarding the lawsuit specifically, Varble explained, “All I’ll say is, I don’t comment on litigation. I have completely recused myself from any of the decisions around litigation, the filing of it, and all that.”
The litigation against Richker had been initiated by the HOA board on the claim that the resident had violated HOA rules by engaging in “noxious or offensive activity” through offensive comments and messages—including anonymous letters to Varble’s employer requesting that he be fired.
The disagreements between Richker and Varble have been ongoing, with Richker calling the police on Varble. The police seemingly did not file a report, and Varble told Tichelaar in private messages, “Absolutely ridiculous that he would do this and he’s done it repeatedly and demonstrating this to the community is only causing more harm to his reputation as most people think he’s crazy.”
Varble continued, “A lot of people think you’re like that too, including me.” He added in the same thread, “You still act like a lunatic and I’ve also heard that from Mark Lucas and a bunch of other people who live around you.”
Varble was adamant to The Dallas Express that he “completely recused [himself] from all decisions pertaining to that litigation.”
Opponents and neighbors have also voiced concerns over Varble’s history of moving between states.
Resident Natalie Johnson suggested to The Dallas Express, “Looking up his past record, he’s terrorized Florida, Illinois, and some other states.”
Johnson added, “For the betterment of everyone, this man needs to move out from our community. It’s just too much bad.”
Varble has officially lived in Irving’s fifth district for roughly three years, according to his campaign filing documents. Prior to his time in Texas, Varble ran and held offices in different states, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
In 2005, he unsuccessfully sought a city council position in Champaign, Illinois. While still living in Illinois, he put his name forward as a Democrat for DeWitt County Board in 2007 but pulled out of the election to take a new job in a different state.
“I decided that that would be better for me long term than continuing in the race. It’s like, this is a career-level move to be the labor relations manager for the largest paper mill in the United States, or you can be county commissioner in DeWitt,” Varble told The Dallas Express.
Varble later moved to Florida and in 2018 became a trustee of the Lago Vista Maintenance District after no other candidates put themselves forward for the office. However, he left the state before finishing his term.
“I made that decision for my career, an advancement in my career to be at a principal level, which I was kind of at that level already, but it was a much higher profile position. … It was offering something much greater,” Varble explained.
Varble had also been appointed to the Florida Board of Auctioneers in 2018, but Gov. Ron DeSantis rescinded the appointment upon taking office in 2019. Ultimately, Varble resigned from the board in order to take the job in Texas.
When asked if he would leave Irving City Council to pursue further career advancement if elected, Varble said it was “very unlikely at this point because I am pretty much in the pinnacle position for what I do.”
“I wouldn’t run if I wasn’t willing to make the commitment,” he added.
HOA residents further allege that, under Varble’s leadership, the association overspent the 2022 budget by more than $300,000.
“He’s just spending money arbitrarily,” Margaret Tichelaar suggested. “He’s saying that all of these things and the repairs he’s made are necessary. No, they’re not. They’re not necessary.”
Financial documents from the University Park HOA obtained by The Dallas Express show that the budget for landscape maintenance, pool operation, general repairs and maintenance, security, extermination, and water were all overspent by considerable margins. In total, the operating expenses alone were $247,905 over budget for 2022.
Turning to administrative expenses, the HOA board overspent on professional fees, debt service, homeowner activities, insurance, and “miscellaneous admin,” going over budget by $78,188. The association also spent $22,713 in unbudgeted capital expenditures.
When asked about the financial situation of the association, Varble told The Dallas Express, “Due to my legal responsibility and obligations to our association I have no public comment.”
Early voting for Irving City Council starts on April 24, and election day is May 6. Five candidates have put their names forward, including Anthony Stanford, Heather Stroup, Jesse Koehler, and Mark Cronenwett.