Candidate for Mayor: Dave Morrow
By David Morrow
Thank you Act Locally Waco for giving me the chance to bring my message directly to the people of Waco at such an important moment in our history. Citizen leaders of every economic stratum should be given the opportunity to put their names forward in service to their communities. But for too long, our city has only had one name on the ballot - a mayoral candidate running unopposed and unchallenged. Our communities are hungry for fresh leadership that will provide new opportunities and strengthens our democracy. I’m running because I believe the people of Waco have the right to choose their leaders and their future.
My platform is a culmination of ideas from folks of every background and economic persuasion. My four decades of experience in local government and as a city planner has shaped my ideas on how to bring new solutions to Waco’s outdated transportation systems and infrastructure. As a member of a citizen advisory group for six years, I worked closely with Waco’s planning and engineering staff to tackle some of our city’s most pressing challenges. They appreciated my innovative approach and my determination in achieving results. They also appreciate that I bring a sense of humor to my work!
I’ve dedicated my life to solving problems - most of my professional work has centered around finding solutions to our most pressing challenges -- protecting air, water, and other resources while allowing economic development to move forward.
In 1964, my family moved to Thousand Oaks in Ventura County, CA. Sadly, over the decades, urban sprawl and subsequent tax increases destroyed many of the things I loved about California. “Urban sprawl is probably best described as the antithesis of an ideal city type – the compact, efficient pedestrian settlement with a rich civic culture – and thus is an essentially negative term.” (Douglas Murphy in The Guardian, 2017) I am very concerned that Waco is making many of the same mistakes that California did. As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is, 'Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to achieve different results'. So when I see that we, the current residents of Waco, are giving away $100M to development companies at the expense of our existing residents, I feel an obligation to stand up for our community. If you want to come here and make a profit, that's fine. It's a free country. But corporations can more than afford to pay their own way!
As a former member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, I know how investment in modern infrastructure and transportation can make a positive impact on communities and the environment. But the health and safety of our families come first. My training with the US EPA in emergency management and evacuation related to natural disasters, chemical and nuclear releases, and security threats have prepared me to lead Waco’s recovery in the wake of COVID-19.
As mayor, I will focus on five key objectives: 1. Growing locally-owned businesses and supporting entrepreneurs, 2. Fighting urban sprawl 3. Increasing government transparency and public participation 4. Supporting seniors, and education while improving the roads, sidewalks and bike lanes for existing residents, and 5. Maintaining a clean environment and encouraging health and the arts. These are not mutually exclusive goals - but they do fix some of the things that are bent or broken at City Hall.
The mayor's utmost priority is to protect and serve while providing public services that have allowed our country to become the envy of the world. We have a right to clean water, safe roads and bridges, parks, and playgrounds for everyone to relax and enjoy, well-trained and funded police, and dedicated fire and city workers. The City budget is $360M this past year. How and where that money is spent is what will make this vision a reality. The mayor is often the chair of the Metropolitan Planning Organization which doles out 100s of millions for infrastructure projects. The six miles of rebuilding I-35 right now is about 1/3 of a billion dollars - this is real money and is directed by the MPO. However, there are many more projects in the pipeline that need to consider the 800-pound gorilla hiding in the closet: climate change. The Texas State Meteorologist’s recent Climate Report forecasts 30 - 50% more flooding events in the next 15 years as the Gulf of Mexico warms and puts more water into the atmosphere. https://today.tamu.edu/2020/03/05/extreme-weather-risks-rising-in-texas-warns-new-report/
Failure to plan is planning to fail. But I believe we can meet this moment, and prepare our highways, roads, bridges, and drains for the challenges ahead.
Very importantly, Waco's poverty level is 30%, which is twice the state average. We can do better! Prosper Waco was founded several years ago to break the cycle of poverty. The city has a budget of $360M but we give a very small percentage of this to combating poverty. As Mayor, I will advocate shifting away from boosting the profits of multinational corporations to helping the people who have deep roots in our city. Why would we recently give a $4.5M tax break to Marriott Corporation, the largest hotel chain in the world, when we have a chance to help our neighbors and fellow citizens? I have read the entire Waco budget and identified $80M in tax abatements and give-aways. Just this year! Think about what we could do with $80M each year to help locally-owned businesses, seniors, our school districts? How could we help seniors stay in their homes by giving THEM a tax break?
Please take a look at www.dave4mayor.com to learn more about what I would do for our city. I’ve pledged to serve a maximum of two terms so I can focus on achieving real work without the influence of politics or big donors. I intend to work for the little guy, the underserved, the person who pays taxes and has earned the right to see their city thrive.
Biographical information for Dave Morrow
I have an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a graduate degree in Computer-Based Education from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I have worked in both government and the private sector over four decades to solve various environmental issues, many of which concern Waco now, such as the new landfill. When I met my wife Marla Hendricks DVM, I was teaching at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and doing air quality research in the summer. Marla owns Crossroads Animal Clinic and for some years we had a long-distance relationship. She is the love of my life, and I was lucky to marry her at the end of 2013. I finished teaching the school year, sold my house in California, and moved to Waco in 2014. We were lucky to have Fixer Upper TV help us to restore a wonderful 110-year-old house on 5th Street. You can watch the episode; its #13 of the first season. Restoring this beautiful old house was quite an adventure, and I wrote a book about the experience called “Mailander House.” Since moving here, I have worked for the past six years on various city planning teams and I volunteer at JH HInes Elementary School. My day job is president of a technology company, Ion Defense Technologies (https://www.iondeftech.com).