Denton City Council candidate Daniel Clanton: ‘I bring energy and I’m not a 9-to-5 person’


Denton City Council candidate Daniel Clanton recently provided the following responses to a Dallas Express questionnaire: 

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

Answer: It just kind of came to me one day. Keely Riggs was giving up her [city council] position to run for mayor, and I had been kind of talking about it for years, and it just kind of happened at the right time.

I knew I was going to have to run again this year because I was just finishing up [Riggs’] term, so I had already prepared myself to go ahead and run for this year. I’m a person who sees things that are happening in our city, and things that need to be looked at and, in my opinion, have not been addressed, and so that’s the main focus of why I was wanting to get involved. 

Q. Why should people vote for you?

A. I am a person of the city. I’ve lived here in Denton County most of my life, literally 46 years I’ve been around here. I bring some energy into the position and I’m not a 9-to-5 person. I’m in IT and that sometimes actually means I’m on 24 hours a day, so I want to bring some of that energy and that kind of thought from IT into this position. 

Q. What are your strengths compared to your competitors?

A.  I’m going to bring some energy into it and some thought. Again, my background in IT, and when I watch the city council and how it functions, a lot of the practices that we put into it also comes into what I’ve seen happening there. It’s a business model, so we have to look at how we can get things done with what we have and building those relationships to move forward on things. That is part of what I do [professionally], so I’m bringing that piece into it. 

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

A. When you say ‘to defund the police,’ different people have different ideas about the overall true definition of defund the police, so no. 

I actually believe that the police department should have more funding. Right now it has 16 police officers per shift, and there was a study that showed that we needed to have 25. In the next 20 years, Denton is going to be growing and possibly doubling the amount of people here and with that we’re going to need even more [police officers]. The goal right now is to go from that 16 to 20, and by the time we reach the 25 like the study said, we’re actually going to need more officers than that, like 35. 

But with that said, I’d like to have each officer trained each year, and have them go over their training. I’d like to have evaluations and I’ve spoken to at least one officer about this. It’s been described to me that officers start off with a bucket and every time they have something that happens, there’s a piece of trash thrown into that bucket. After a while, it overflows. And so maybe an evaluation to say, ‘Hey, are you doing OK? Maybe you don’t need to be in that position; maybe we can move you to another position.’  

More training for them to work with the homeless population and other people. They need to have that training, learn how to interact with those groups. So I’m not in favor of defunding; I’m in favor of moving some things around and adding to what they have. 

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

A.  That’s a tough question. There’s the group that started off very well and it truly meant to bring to light the things that were happening. The way it has moved now, I’m not in favor of the way it is portrayed today, but in the beginning, yes. 

Q. Would you support more transparency by city government? Why or why not?

A.  Absolutely. There are some things that I see that they have to do behind closed doors, with lawyers and things like that. You end up having to just go get the documentation, if you can actually, and the council can’t talk about it. 

But any of the decisions that are happening with the city, yes [to transparency]. I want to be forthright with that; I actually want to start having a town hall meeting almost immediately when I’m elected so that my constituents can come to me and ask me questions, and that’s exactly one of the things that when I’ve been out walking around I will tell the person, ‘Look, you’ve got somebody who’s running to be a politician right in front of you. Ask me any question you’d like and I’ll give you an answer.’ 

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. When we say affordable housing, I believe that we need to have different options for, and I’ve spoken about this before, where you have a starter house that a family can move into or a couple can move into, and then they can move up, right? So, do we need those options for smaller 900-square-foot houses as opposed to a 4,000-square-foot house? Yes, we need those options for people to be able to move into and to be able to move up. 

As far as we look at it from a property tax issue, trying to keep those taxes down is one of the things that I want to do. I’m gonna keep that down, but to pay for things here in the town, we have to pay for it by taxes. So, in some cases we will have to bring some development to be able to keep those taxes lower. 

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

A. There are quite a few organizations in the city right now that provide for the homeless. We have Serve Denton, Our Daily Bread, Vision Ministries for Refuge and quite a few others that gather together and help the homeless out, and they are always willing to do that. 

I think that the city needs to get a regular report on this and to possibly see where they can help, but not take over, but help those organizations and support those organizations. 

Q. Do you think crime is a problem in your city or do residents feel safe? 

A. I feel very comfortable. One thing that I love about Denton is the fact that, when we go somewhere, we see our neighbors. When we go to the square, we see our neighbors; we know our neighbors, we walk out and talk to our neighbors around here, so I do feel safe, yes. I think the police department’s done a great job of making us all safe.

Again, I would like to see an increase in the number of officers per shift that will increase some of the patrols that we have and allow them to handle these different crimes that are going on in a more timely manner. That’s one of the things that I’d like to see. As far as big crime in Denton, I don’t believe we have a problem and I believe Chief Dixon is doing a great job of keeping crime down. 

One of the things that I would like to push for is more information about human trafficking. That is an issue for every city and I have talked to some of the people who are part of the C7 organization that’s here, who actually go out and fight against human trafficking and who try to bring [victims] back [to their families]. There’s some great people, brave people, who do these things and I would like to see more of a push in that area as well.  

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

A. Well, I don’t know about any to add. But as far as cutting, I would like to see, especially right now during COVID, I would actually like the city to go back and see if it could put a moratorium on any kind of, or at least say that we we don’t need to pay for any kinds of permits for restaurants, or something like that. And any kind of regulations that we could reduce for those companies right now. I‘m not saying take them away completely, maybe say, ‘OK, we’ll put them out for now while businesses start back up’ and then we can start adding them back slowly. 

One thing I would like to add, and I’m not going to say it’s a regulation, but one thing, getting back to businesses, is I would like to see an incentive. We tend to give incentives to the companies that come in. Well, what about the companies who have been here? There are some good companies! There are businesses that have been here a long time and they are almost synonymous with Denton. 

And so, why don’t we look at them and say, ‘Hey, thank you for being part of our community. We’d like to give you some kind of an incentive to stay here.’ I’d like to see that. You’ve proven that you want to be part of the community; we want you to be part of the community for a long time. So that’s something that I’d like us to look at. 

Q. If you had to cut several million from the city budget, where would you cut it?

A. I would not take away from services and, as I’ve said, that actually needs to grow. There are some things that we need to look at, and this would probably be a case of going through and reviewing what I would consider ‘pet projects.’ 

In some cases, there’s a beautification thing that we could possibly hold off on because my big focus is safety – you’ve heard what I said about the police. And I want to have sidewalks. There are large sections in Denton that do not have sidewalks. I would not want to take away from this if somebody said, ‘Well, we’re going to take away from your sidewalks.’ I would really fight for that, as opposed to, ‘Well, maybe we were not going to do renovations and I’ve got an idea in mind,’ without actually specifying it. 

But if it was where it was going to cost $1 million to tear out something that was not going to affect anything and yet one of the city council members actually proposed that at one point, and I felt like it’s not going to help and it’s not going to hurt anything if it stays, that would be one that I would say, ‘Let’s put that aside; let’s focus on the things that we actually need.’

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

A.  Right now, again, this is going back to COVID, anybody who needs it, who wants to start a business, again, we have a lot of organizations that are here to help out and we need to get information out about that. I do think that the city does not communicate always. I just had a conversation earlier with somebody about rental homes and about fixing those up, and I didn’t know about the information and this person said the information’s out there. We need to communicate better. 

Reducing those regulations and giving people the opportunity to start a business or to join one of those businesses as it’s growing. We also have organizations here in town that will help with paying for mortgages or paying for electricity and things like that, so we have those things in place. 

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

A. Infrastructure improvement. Again, put it in the sidewalks. Right now it’s hard to drive around without getting into something that the roads are being worked on, so I want to get all of these projects finished in a timely manner, so we need to get all of that done. 

Public safety. That includes sidewalks as well as the police department and making sure that’s taken care of. 

Economic growth. Again, reducing those regulations if we can help those small businesses get started back up, and helping other businesses get started. 

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