By nearly a 2-1 margin, record voter turnout in May’s local election has retired three incumbents on the Colleyville City Council. Challengers endorsed by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility—Tammy Nakamura, Bobby Lindamood, and Richard Newton—ran an issue-focused campaign aimed at addressing skyrocketing water rates, responsible road improvements, and repairing the city’s damaged relations with residents.
The enormous level of citizen engagement in Colleyville is difficult to overstate.
Although Colleyville makes up less than two percent of Tarrant County’s population, early voting in the small suburb made up over twenty-three percent of all votes cast countywide, with thirty-five other local entities hosting elections across Tarrant County.
Rarely is the majority of a local governing body flipped in a single election cycle.
But citizen-opposition had been brewing for over two years. It escalated when the council’s old majority pushed for controversial development along Glade Road. Although opponents were critical of the city’s intent to unnecessarily use eminent domain to add sewers and trails, most residents became frustrated over the council’s indignant approach that alienated landowners.
Challengers-elect Nakamura, Lindamood, and Newton promised to seek citizen feedback on practical alternatives to improve Glade without using eminent domain.
Far less publicized was the council’s previous push to spend millions in state and local transportation dollars “beautifying” Highway 26, as opposed to adding lanes and improving key intersections. Councilman Chris Putnam, who enthusiastically supported the successful challengers, persuaded the council to shift the focus to roadway expansion and away from beautification waste.
But the most pressing issues vocalized by disaffected citizens were skyrocketing water rates and the council’s stubborn push to approve higher-density developments.
Astonishingly, when met with citizen-concern about water rates, the now-retired incumbents refused to acknowledge a problem even existed, let alone pledge to address it.
And despite hundreds of residents repeatedly attending council meetings in late 2015 to voice concern over high-density zoning designations, the council passed their new 190-page comprehensive plan five years ahead of schedule, in a 5-2 vote. Citizens were so upset they booed the council and promised change at the ballot box.
Thousands of Colleyville residents proved what activists in Texas already knew—local citizen engagement targeted at local races is the most immediate and effective way to positively impact the daily lives of Texans. It is yet to be seen how the council will react to the governing mandate advanced by Colleyville residents.