Arlington City Council candidate Nikkie Hunter: ‘Public safety is my number-one priority’

Nikkie Hunter, who is running for Arlington City Council District 3, submitted the following responses to a Dallas Express questionnaire.

Question: Can you give us a little bit of background on yourself and why did you decide to run for city council?

Answer: I have been active in leadership roles in Arlington for several years, including the city’s Unity Council and Community Relations Committee, Rotary and other organizations that benefit Southeast Arlington. Service is part of who I am and I can offer the type of servant leader that our community deserves.

Q: Why should people vote for you? 

A: City council members serve as an executive board of the city and should be qualified to lead at that level. I have the professional experience, master’s level education, and a proven history of fighting for what Arlington residents deserve. I am also a homeowner, wife, community volunteer and neighbor. I am the strong, proven leader that District 3 deserves.

Q: What are your strengths compared to your competitors? 

A: I am the only candidate in this race who has extensively served on City of Arlington Board and Commissions. I am also a Deputy Governor for Rotary, and previous Southeast Arlington club president. These together give me a unique understanding of Arlington’s needs and a vision to accomplish the work ahead of me if elected.

Q: What do you think of the proposal to defund the police and would you support it? 

A: Public safety is my number-one priority for Southeast Arlington, and data shows a staggering uptick in violent crime in the district. I am totally open to shifting funding in the budget, but absolutely not at the expense of our neighborhoods and the families who live here.

Q: What do you think about the Black Lives Matter movement? 

A: Although I am excited to see the positive outcomes as a result of the movement, our society still has a long way to go.

Q: The city is constantly trying to provide more affordable housing, but it faces an uphill battle. How will you address the housing situation? Will you look at it from a property tax issue, a development issue or a resource issue?  Will you vote for higher taxes so the city can build more affordable housing? 

A: I will not vote for higher taxes so the city can build more affordable housing. That isn’t even how affordable housing works in Arlington. I would focus on revitalizing run-down areas of the city by partnering with state grants and developers to provide quality affordable housing that makes sense for Arlington and our unique communities rather than just checking a political box.

Q: How will you address homelessness? Do you think the city should be providing more services to the homeless? 

A: I would work to build upon the community partnerships Arlington leverages to help the homeless. We are known as a benevolent city with a rich nonprofit sector which we can support through the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation funds (non-tax dollars) as we have done in the past. This is a smart way to keep tax dollars working for all residents while still providing for our most vulnerable.

Q: City workers get a number of employment benefits not offered to every citizen. Do you think this is fair? How do we make this more equitable so that all citizens can benefit from what their tax dollars are essentially paying for? 

A: Employees and citizens benefit from tax dollars in very different ways. City employees have pay and benefits similar to the same jobs across cities of the same size and complexity, not more than and not less than. It’s important to attract and retain top talent to serve our community.

Arlington has one of the lowest operating cost-per-resident in the Metroplex and is run very lean when it comes to city staff. Any candidate who says differently hasn’t been paying attention.

Q: How will you help the local school districts improve those schools that have struggled? 

A: Schools are supported by school district trustees. I will work to continue the great relationship the city and school district have and support where we are able to without taking resources away from city priorities, such as roads and public safety. Ultimately, though, the city has no influence over how our enormous school taxes are directed within the district.

Q: In order to solve a problem, it needs to be measured. So how do you measure systemic racism? How much is there? And what do you think the city’s role should be in solving it? 

A: We can see the results of systemic racism all around us. We need to start by looking at the systems the city controls or influences. I serve on the city’s Unity Council to address these issues and will bring that wealth of knowledge and experience to the city if elected.

Q: What regulations do you think the city should cut? Which regulations do you think the city should add? 

A: I think the city should cut all regulations that are unenforceable, which would free up resources to focus on regulations that can make a difference. I am for less regulation overall – let the residents of Arlington enjoy their homes without undue pressure from city officials.

Q: How are you going to help the poorest among us? 

A: If elected, I would work to leverage all possible resources to continue to expand the network of nonprofit organizations that support the most vulnerable in our community. This would include funding from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation (non-tax dollars directed by the city council), connecting residents to the plethora of resources available, and ensuring affordable housing keeps up with the demand in Arlington.

Q: What would be your first three priorities if elected to city council? 

A: Public safety, road maintenance, and property taxes.

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