Norris Tyrone Darden District 2 City Council and Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire Name as it will appear on the ballot
: Norris Tyrone Darden Current employment: Academy On leave of absence from George Gervin
50-word bio: Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice (2001 SWT), Master of Education in Special Education (2003 SWT); Educator for ten years; Managed successful youth programs; taught adult basic education; written and produced stage plays; Member of the Urban Leadership Council, a grassroots youth advocacy group; Member of the NAACP. 50-word reason for becoming a candidate in this election : To build the necessary bridges connecting all people within the district to opportunity. District 2 is a large and diverse community; every voice should be heard. I want to return the seat to its constituents. I believe the people deserve responsive leadership and an elected leader that advocates for their issues. 1) Could the City’s recent ethics reforms be better enforced, especially in terms of conflicts of interest? Yes, I believe any oversight/accountability body should have the greatest level of transparency and should be willing to apply appropriate sanctions even if it causes recalling opportunities where conflicts are apparent. The purpose of an ethics board should be to ensure integrity and promote an environment of trust between elected officials and the constituents they are elected to serve. 2) What’s your opinion on encouraging economic development and civic programming public land such as Hemisfair Park, is concerned? I believe that supporting economic development is important but that there must be a clear and concise plan available for the public to follow especially when public funds are being used. It is also important that the public also understands both the investment and return in projects concerning public land and public monies. Public trust must be gained in order for these types of projects to move forward. In regards to economic development this also needs to be in a format in which the public can understand and follow its progress as many promises of economic development have been made in the past and have fell short of the people’s approval.
3) Should the city establish an independent police monitor to better oversee the San Antonio Police Department? No, there is no need to create another level of bureaucracy, we just need to make use of the guidelines in place and ensure we hold the Police Department accountable. 4) Do you support the way the health department currently regulates food trucks? If not, how could the regulations be changed to better serve San Antonians? Not selected to respond to. 5) How can the City support sustainable transportation options? First the City needs to develop a comprehensive mapping plan that in conjunction with VIA identifies where pockets of people are and where they are trying to go. In certain areas of the city citizens have to travel on multiple buses leading to two to three hour bus trips that cover less than 10-20 miles. 6) What value do you think the arts bring to San Antonio? In what ways can the City support local arts organizations and individual artists? I believe that the arts bring value to any community, so addressing the arts issue is important. I have witnessed a lot of support for the arts in San Antonio, but at least from a citizen’s perspective it appears that these initiatives/allocations have not done much to strengthen the arts community. The lack of citizen support may directly be connected to a lack of living wage jobs not allowing lovers of the arts to patronize the arts because of other priorities (e.g. food, shelter, transportation, etc). Without people having a living wage and expanding the market base for the arts it will continue to struggle. 7) Is it important for the City to strengthen its non-discrimination ordinances to protect LGBT citizens. Why or why not? Obviously I would have to look at the current ordinances in place to see if they indeed need strengthening or if it’s just an issue of enforcing what is already in place and holding those responsible for enforcing the ordinances accountable. Speaking towards discrimination specifically I believe that any practice that discriminates against PEOPLE on the basis of race, color, creed, gender, etc is wrong and I definitely do NOT support discrimination. I think the best approach would be not only for me to look at the ordinances as an elected official but also consult a liaison from the specific community the ordinance(s) would affect in this case the LGBT community.
8) Is Animal Care Services doing enough to increase its liverelease rate? Is ACS' public-private partnership model is working? If not, what else could be done? Not selected to respond to. 9) What would you do to address the high vacancy rate in downtown buildings? There are several measures to address this issue such as reduce the costs, put more services, actively recruit major businesses and create a reason why businesses and people should be downtown. Develop a niche market, in Dallas it is financial institutions, in Houston it is oil businesses and foundations, so what can it be for San Antonio? 10) Is the City’s million-dollar incentive to create a downtown grocery store appropriate? Why or why not? Is there a better way to bring a grocery store downtown? Not selected to respond to. 11) How can San Antonio balance economic development with historic preservation? Each time a project is proposed in and around institutions of memory a cost benefit analysis should be performed. Therefore Historic preservation needs to be more clearly defined. Holding on to buildings just because they were built before the turn of the century, but are not structurally sound and that may cost a tremendous amount of money to preserve may not always be in the best interest of the citizens. The return on investment must be weighed and where feasible, the Historic value should be taken into account. 12) Do you support union organizers’ push for a Tip Integrity Act for the downtown hotel and restaurant industry ? Yes, it is important to support people earning a living wage and as well as transparency within our business community. 13) What is the City’s role in making consumer solar power affordable for residents as well as local businesses? Not selected to respond to. 14) Is there more the City could do to protect the Edwards Aquifer in terms of building restrictions, funding conservation easements or other means? Not selected to respond to. 15) What are the most critical components to implementing Pre-K 4 SA? Are there any other opportunities for the City to support education? The critical components in implementing Pre-K 3
4 SA is to ensure the School Districts are actively involved in the development of both curriculum and instruction. This will create a better horizontal alignment when the child enters kindergarten. Basically this should focus on what a child should know to be successful when they enter school so they are ready. Other critical issues are eliminating the competition between the City Centers and School District Pre-Kinder programs. Parental involvement needs to be a part of the model; City Centers of Excellence should have a community outreach component that engages everyone in the education of children which has been hard for traditional school districts.