Talk about an attention-getter!
With Denton voters on Saturday throwing out three sitting City Council members — the biggest housecleaning in recent memory — we trust those whose seats remain warm at City Hall are taking note and trying to translate the residents’ message.
But if you ask the newest council members-to-be — Brian Beck, Vicki Byrd and Alison Maguire — the voters’ intent was clear: They want better access to and more responsiveness from their elected leaders. And you know what, we believe they’re right.
Saturday’s elections came during a period of particular discord unique for even our traditionally plucky council, with heated debates continuing over the defining frames of transparency, attorney-client privilege and even the value of non-majority viewpoints. Left unanswered are questions of whether the city believes council members can be criminally charged for divulging information it doesn’t want revealed and whether proposals lacking wide support deserve the time of day.
We believe the city’s residents on Saturday told City Hall they want these issues resolved — for the better.
In addition to greater access, they want an end to the infighting, to the harsh words and impertinence that sometimes boil over. Instead of heated words, they want cool calculation — solutions presented for fixing our roads and building up our tax base.
We hope that with the addition of Beck, Byrd and Maguire, a council better representing the philosophical, gender and racial mix of our city will be better equipped to address the longstanding issues that have vexed most councils to date.
Come May 11, we will get our first taste of this new council in action. We wish them the best.
It has long been understood, in sports in particular, that sometimes a team is improved not by addition alone, but by addition by subtraction. Such is the case with John Ryan being voted off the Denton City Council.
Over the weekend, after Ryan was defeated in his race against Maguire, he showed himself to be wholly unfit as a leader when in a fit of defeat, he decided to dox the Record-Chronicle’s reporter covering the race by posting his personal cellphone number on Facebook, inviting his supporters to light the reporter up.
Ryan offered up worn, soggy justifications for his actions, borrowing the same words and phrases — you know them without us having to repeat them — too often used to dismiss newspapers and journalists in the increasingly caustic national discourse. But in inviting an invasion of our reporter’s personal space, Ryan also employed a fear tactic used to sadistic effect and often personal and tragic harm in that same caustic national discourse.
Ryan’s Facebook post remained public for almost 24 hours before he thankfully removed it, but it’s a line he never should have crossed — a betrayal of trust and a betrayal of his office. We trust he will take advantage of the pause brought with Saturday’s defeat to reflect on his actions and what they reveal in the corrosion of our interactions.
He’s better than that. We’re all better than that.