Kickoff Speech from January 26, 2020

For the record provided below is a transcript of the kickoff speech I gave on January 26, 2020.  

Good afternoon. From the bottom of my heart let me say thank you very much for being here today to help me kickoff this campaign to be your next Mayor of Denton, Texas.

I would like to say a special thank you to the fine folks here at Dan’s Silverleaf for opening their doors for today’s kickoff party. Dan and Pam have been friends of mine for many years. And for so long Dan’s has been a vital part of our notable arts and music community. This has always been a friendly place to hear great music and support the arts.   I thank them for their support and hospitality today.

I would also like to thank the Raised Right Men for entertaining us!

And of course, I would like to thank those volunteers that have pitched in and are helping.

 To get elected I have to have help. To see you all here today and to have people already stepping up to donate their time, their talents, and their treasure tells me that we can do this!

I was going to be quick, say hello, and thank everybody but I realized that during the campaign I might only get one or two minutes to answer questions in upcoming forums. So, for those of you who may not know me very well, I am going to take a few minutes here to highlight what is important.

As a city council member I strive to be a hands-on leader who is approachable, and responsive to the needs of our community. Government is not perfect. Government is not always right. But government is better when residents and stakeholders are engaged. I count on you.

That is why, from day one as a council member, I have put so much emphasis into improving Citizen Engagement. D2 meetings, newsletters, social media, my website, answering emails and calls, and meeting people and stakeholders where they are… these are fundamental to how I work and I will continue to do this as Mayor.

I want to talk about Public Safety and Health. Of course we need to keep our Fire, EMS, and Police supported.   They need people, they need competitive compensation, and they need the tools and continued specialized training to handle domestic violence, people with mental health issues, and trafficking. As Denton continues to grow, the demands on our first responders will increase in frequency and complexity. I have a track record of support and leadership when it comes to putting these departments in a position to meet our growing needs, and that is not going to change.   But there is more to public safety than our Fire and Police departments. Public Safety and Health should be factors in every decision we make at City Council. And I don’t think enough leaders understand that. There is no greater influence on public safety and health than our built environment. And we control the built environment through zoning, through policy, through code, and through the development of infrastructure. You need people on city council who get that. You need a Mayor who gets that. If this city does not put a priority on the health and safety of our citizens in all policy decisions then we are not doing our job right and we are not building a city of quality that truly values its people.

Fiscal Responsibility.   I voted against the first budget that was ever put in front of me on city council, because the development of that budget was not transparent and lacked accountability. I worked alongside the Mayor and two other very special ladies on council the following year to get council to work with our city management to completely revamp the way we budget. We now start at zero and we use the Effective Tax Rate as our guide. I am frugal and I am thrifty when it comes to spending tax payer dollars – but I don’t compromise our level of service and vital programming. I want accountability, and for expenditures and investments be tied to key objectives with measurable results.   I also understand that giving away un-targeted, non-strategic, and reactive incentives is bad policy and nothing but a race to the bottom that ultimately strains our tax payers. Our Economic Prosperity and ability to create and attract quality jobs will be driven by continuing to work to improve the quality of life we can offer our citizens. We need to be focused on retaining and attracting people. We do that with great neighborhoods, available and affordable housing, amplifying our unique culture, and with infrastructure that better connects our neighborhoods and amenities. And we have to be better partners in the success of local small businesses across Denton – because those are the true drivers of our economy.

I believe that mankind can and should be better Stewards of the Environment.   Cities have a duty and the great capacity to drive improvement of our environmental conditions. While the action of no single city can change the world, several cities stepping up and leading the way in sustainability can. I believe that Denton has been one of those leading cities. We need to build on that strength and environmental leadership. And I believe that that leadership will continue to set us apart and make us an attractive destination for people and businesses.  Caring for our natural resources is very important to me.

I have mentioned Infrastructure quite a bit. That is because infrastructure influences everything. When I first joined council our roads were bad, neglected, and largely left unmaintained for decades. We were sitting on bonds that were supposed to be funding road repair, construction, and other significant projects. Early on in my tenure we reset a tone of urgency. Now, I know the whole town feels like it is under construction… that feeling is pretty accurate. But there is a lot of work to do. And we can’t put it off any further. We have to get the job done or we will fall further and further behind. We are the Denton that is going to fix Denton. We are doing it to build a better future. And infrastructure isn’t just roads. It’s water, utilities, drainage, it’s parks, it’s trails, it’s green space, it’s sidewalks, it’s proper bike lanes. It is everything that defines our built environment. We are under construction. We will be for while. We have to catch up and we have to start getting ahead.

This is an overwhelmingly good community. We have so many caring and decent people that we are fortunate to call our neighbors and friends.   And we benefit from the positive work of our numerous non-profits and charitable organizations. They make us better. They make Denton a place that cares about people. And we have to make sure that the efforts of our City, our non-profits, and charitable organizations continue to improve their coordination and integration in addressing the challenges we have in homelessness, housing, population-health, and the protection of at-risk children and families. We have to be vigilant in our work to make Denton a place that works for all of us and to make sure this is a place that extends fair opportunity, respect, and human decency.

Finally, I want to talk for a moment about the campaign ahead. I want us to stay positive. I want us to stay focused on how we work together to address the opportunities and challenges that our community faces now and in the future. As Mayor I will be working for and serving all of Denton and I don’t want us to lose sight of that in this campaign. Above all else, above politics, above who does or does not sit on city council… we are community. Let’s not let partisanship and national politics overtake a non-partisan race for a non-partisan office. As I have served on council over the past five years, I have listened to and respected the views of all constituents – because that is what we are supposed to do in a representative government.

We have a bright future that can be realized and shared if we choose to acknowledge, respect, and understand that people come first. I will work hard to do the right things in the right way. I will continue to lead with strength, integrity, and dedication and I am asking for your support and your vote on May 2nd. My name is Keely Briggs and I intend to be the next Mayor of the Great City of Denton, Texas.

Thank you.