Interview with Kathleen Thompson – City Council Place 6 Candidate

Kathleen Thompson is part of a three person race for Grapevine City Council Place 6.  She is running against incumbent Roy Stewart as well as Deverick Jordan.  Voting takes place on May 14th.  Please remember to vote.

Ms. Thompson was kind enough to answer our web interview questions in order to help the citizens of Grapevine get to know her.  Here are our questions and her responses:

Why did you decide to run for Grapevine City Council?

Thompson:  My family helped found Grapevine more than 100 years ago, and I grew
up in the community. But as the mother of two young boys, I’m running
because I know Grapevine can do better! I will fight for more open and
inclusive government and be a strong voice for fiscally responsible
spending that uses your tax dollars more wisely and puts Grapevine
neighborhoods and families first.

As the mother of a child in GCISD, I also will work to grow City
partnerships with the school district — something especially vital in
this dire economic climate, when programs, classes and teachers are
being cut.

What are your top priorities for the city?

Thompson:  1. Spending – The City Council is entrusted with residents’ tax
dollars but our council has not been a good steward of public funds. I
pledge to rescind the lavish taxpayer-subsidized health care that City
Council members have given themselves. I also promise to fight to end
the practice of paying City Council Members $8000 a year for
“reimbursements” without requiring that members submit receipts or
show that they spent money benefiting the city. These are our tax
dollars, and we are entitled to accountability

2. Accessible government – Residents must be and feel heard. I will
submit a resolution, until it passes, that open Council meetings be
video recorded, as they are in neighboring cities, so that residents
may participate more fully. I will be a Councilwoman who is accessible
and listens.

3. Quality of life – With D/FW Airport, Lake Grapevine, historic
downtown area, and the DFW Connector, Grapevine is uniquely qualified
to attract tourist sales tax dollars. I will put those dollars to use
to benefit Grapevine families with longer library hours, updates to
parks and trails and expanded services at the recreation and senior
centers. Our city government currently spends too much on the wrong
things.

What separates you from the other two candidates currently running
for this position?

Thompson:  Fifteen-year incumbent, Roy Stewart, approves of lavish
taxpayer-subsidized health benefits for himself and other Council
Members, accepts thousands of dollars in “reimbursement checks”
without documenting he has actually incurred an expense benefitting
the city, and voted to pay an out-of-town consultant nearly $10,000 to
tell the City Council what Grapevine voters think. The City Council is
a volunteer position and Council Members should serve for the greater
good and take far fewer our hard-earned tax dollars for themselves. As
your Councilwoman, I pledge that you’ll always get a straight answer
from me about any money I get from the city. I’ll also push to require
mandatory disclosure of all reimbursements and benefits received by
Council Members and the posting of all City policies with respect to
those benefits.

My other opponent, Deverick Jordan, is a newcomer to Grapevine who has
lived in our city only a short while and has never before voted in a
Grapevine election.

I applaud his new interest in City government, but his lack of
experience in City and Council matters makes him unqualified to serve.
Mr. Jordan also has tried to bring state and national partisan
politics into this race for a non-partisan city position. The citizens
of Grapevine don’t need someone on the council who will devote most of
his time to talking about state or national politics. As your
Councilwoman, you have my pledge that Grapevine will be first and last
for me. I am running because I love our city with a passion. I know
our City because my family has been a part of Grapevine for more than
100 years and I better understand Council dealings because I have
participated in City government for years.

Name something you would do differently than what the current City
Council does now?

Thompson:  I will be a strong voice for cautious spending that will benefit the
majority of Grapevine families – eliminating lavish health care
benefits for council members, requiring proof of expenditures for
reimbursements, and allowing for more citizen input into Council
dealings.

What is the most important issue facing the city currently?

Thompson:  Traffic – The ultimate construction of the DFW Connector, the 8.4
miles of reconstruction and expansion of State Highways 114 and 121,
will help attract new businesses (large and small) to Grapevine. Until
then, the City must work to ease the impact on nearby businesses and
commuters and should do everything possible to more quickly bring
commuter rail to Grapevine, in addition to adding bike lanes for those
currently commuting to work on our city streets to ease intense
congestion.

One of our biggest complaints with the city government is that they
are not transparent enough. Is there anything you would do to help
alleviate that problem?

Thompson:  Grapevine is behind the times.

There is no reason that our open City Council meetings should not be
videotaped. I have asked for some time that open meetings be
videotaped as they are in our neighboring cities. The City Council
should make open and transparent government a priority.

Council “reimbursements” also should be documented for each expense
incurred and all reimbursement requests and supporting documentation
should be posted online.

Citizen comments for each agenda item of a Council meeting should be
allowed online.

Documents regarding all Council policies should be available publicly.

What is your favorite thing about living in Grapevine?

Thompson:  As the descendent of Grapevine pioneers, I travel daily in the same
areas that my great-grandparents and grandparents did. My family
members helped found The Grapevine Sun and lay cornerstones on Main
Street. I feel a deep connection to this area and want to do more to
improve this great city, by giving the Council a new voice, new energy
and new ideas.

Why should the citizens of Grapevine vote for you?

Thompson:  I was one of the youngest news producers at BELO and have been an
active community leader for almost as long as I can remember. Through
all this, I learned that solutions come, not from talk, but from
rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. My commitment to the
people of Grapevine is that you’ll have a councilwoman who is
accessible and listens.

In both the corporate and non-profit sectors, I have managed
personnel, volunteers and money efficiently and to the betterment of
the organization and pocketbooks of those involved.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about your background?

Thompson:  I am deeply and passionately committed to a better Grapevine. From
more environmentally friendly and sustainable development to better
waste contracts, I have worked closely with the Grapevine City Council — attending
meeting after meeting, publicly advocating for improvements and
meeting individually with Council members to build consensus and find
solutions. I do not stop or take ‘no’ for an answer.

I’m the only candidate on the ballot pledging to target wasteful
spending, make government accessible and protect our quality of life.
I would appreciate your vote on Election Day.

Follow the campaign and upcoming events on my Website:
KathleenforCouncil.com
I’m on Facebook too: www.facebook.com/KathleenforCouncil
And Twitter: http://twitter.com/KathleenCouncil#

Grapevine Texas Online would like to thank Kathleen Thompson for her time in answering our questions. We know time is precious as the election gets closer. We wish her the best of luck in her candidacy.

28 Comments

  1. I feel like I must defend myself here. First, let me start by saying that Mrs. Thompson should research her accusation that I have never voted in a city election a little further. I have not lived in Grapevine my entire life and can not help the fact that I was not raised in this specific city. Mrs. Thompson is accurate that I did not vote in the last city election, as I worked the entire election in the State of Washington. However, I did vote in the November elections.

    Secondly, I want to address your comment that you are the only candidate that is planning to target wasteful spending. You say this in numerous articles and this is far from the truth.

    Lastly, I want to point out that you NEVER say you will not accept the expense reimbursements, monthly stipend, or the medical insurance (which is optional). In the end, you will take every penny from the hard-working Grapevine residents. You can criticize the Council members that invest around 15 to 20 hours each week into our City, while I applaud them and say thank you! I celebrate the fact that Grapevine has the fifth lowest city tax burden out of all Tarrant County. I celebrate our uniqueness. I celebrate our parks and services. I celebrate our great city and the leadership that has made it great over the years.

    I would love to hear your comments back.

  2. I am surprised by Mr. Jordan’s factually misleading response. Public records show that Mr. Jordan has never voted in a Grapevine municipal election, but has lived in Grapevine for two years — long enough to vote in two elections. Participation in local government and local elections is the issue, not general elections and national politics.

  3. Deverick Jordan’s Website says the City of Grapevine should “continue to be spent money frugally”. But money is not being spent frugally, in numerous instances. Far from it, our city council is not being a good steward of our tax dollars. Rather than spending money on improved city services benefiting Grapevine families, our council pays itself almost $62,000 annually for expense reimbursements without any proof that council members spent any money on city business. That’s not how it is done in Southlake or other neighboring cities and it’s not how it’s done in any profit or non-profit corporation I’ve been involved with. If even a portion of that money is being improperly reimbursed, we could do so much more in these fiscally strained times. Unlike Mr. Jordan, I do not agree that this matter is ‘trival’ as he told the Grapevine Courier.

    He is also incorrect on my stand on benefits. I have publicly pledged not to take a penny of reimbursements without an actual, documented expense incurred. And I have stated that I will post all of my expenses online, with supporting receipts, in order to improve transparency. I have publicly criticized lavishness of the health benefits for this part-time volunteer position and will not accept them. I have publicly stated the stipend pay is not an issue. I’m on record with the newspapers and have published all of this on my website. A simple review would show as much.

    I’m looking forward to the final candidate forum, Tuesday, April 26, at Stacy’s Furniture in Grapevine, 6:30 p.m.

  4. I, too, am looking forward to April 26. For the record, I do not believe that the City Council should have checks handed to them without having an actual reason. My comment about it being “trivial” is whether it is called income or an expense reimbursement. Regardless, it amounts to nearly a minimum-waged position, should it be called income. Also, look at Southlake’s tax burden compared to Grapevine’s. See you April 26th! I am looking forward to it.

  5. The Federal government and many state and local governments reimburse officials for certain expenses without a receipt because it is much more efficient and costs less than hiring personnel to process all those separate reimbursement requests. Just imagine how time consuming it would be for an accountant to go through President Obama’s cell phone bill line by line to try to figure out which calls were “personal” and which ones were related to his service as a public official. That would be a ridiculous waste of time and waste of government resources. Government officials will always spend far more (out of their own pockets) than any set reimbursement provided by the government in their roles serving the community, in the form of cell phone charges, gasoline charges, mileage, meals, lodging, etc. The reimbursement only defrays some of the total cost of serving the public. The additional “red tape” of submitting reimbursements the old fashioned way is time consuming and expensive and costs tax payers more money in the end. The per diem system that has been part of the IRS tax code for quite some time is a pretty clear example that the concept of “reimbursements without receipts” has been around for a long time and for good reason — it’s smart and saves us money. I’m surprised Ms. Thompson has never heard of this widely-used method of reimbursing expenses.

  6. For whatever it is worth, I know of at least three big accounting firms that give certain employees a per diem reimbursement for expenses like lunch, dinner and overtime. Those employees get the per diem reimbursement amount no matter what they end up spending and I know that they definitely don’t have to show a receipt.

  7. The hotel industry also works this way… giving a flat reimbursement amount for executives without proof of the expense. I think this is pretty common in several industries. It just saves time and cuts down on processing expenses.

  8. Folks, let’s have specifics. Name companies that give their part-time and volunteer workers $700 monthly for “reimbursements” without receipts.

    The city council member is not an employee of the city.

    No cities and businesses operate this way. If you think they do – name them and document the policy.

  9. Mike, I’m not suggesting that city council members are city employees. I mentioned my experience in the hotel industry because I read that one of the candidates (Kathleen Thompson, I believe) said that no business or non-profit operates in a way similar to the city of Grapevine with respect to the way it handles reimbursements without receipts. It is simply inaccurate to suggest that the way the city of Grapevine handles reimbursements is unique to the city of Grapevine. Most businesses have some sort of automatic reimbursement system that doesn’t require proof of purchase. Any candidate that claims otherwise is being dishonest or is incredibly naive. Mike, do some research – You won’t have to dig too deep to find out how common this practice is.

  10. And frankly, I think all of the candidates should research the issues fully before asserting absurd positions on issues they apparently know nothing about.

  11. At the very least Kathleen has raised awareness of an issue. Whether this is wasteful spending or not may be up for debate and whether or not it is “absurd” is definitely up for debate.

    What is positive is that Kathleen actually takes a stand on something. At least she raises an issue and awareness.

    What are the other candidates issues? What have they taken a stand on?

    Sounds like they are running on a platform of “more of the same.”

  12. And for the record, the business I work for requires reciepts for all reimbursements. It is one of the largest and most well run companies in the world.

    There is a little something called “software” or “technology” that easily handles such mundane things for tens of thousands of employees world wide.

  13. Mark, Without question, I think candidates should raise important issues, especially where government spending is concerned. However, there is a difference between raising an important issue and manufacturing an issue for political gain. I’m leery of any candidate who is hyper-focused on an “issue” that isn’t really an issue and so critical of the entire city council, the mayor and the entire city of Grapevine. That type of candidate has the potential to turn the Grapevine city council into something like the circus that we’ve seen with the Dallas city council.

  14. In my 25 years working for a fortune 100 company we were required to submit documentation of expenses for reimbursement. I for one would be curious as to what $8K is spent on in a year. If administration is a concern perhaps council members could be issued city credit cards and that way the expenditure records would be sent to city officials for review as well as being able to be public. No one seems to be implying council members are not honest, so random audits may be all that is required. From small communities/non profit organizations to national political figures there are many documented cases of inappropriate use of funds. Council members are not employees and their primary job is to safeguard our funds. I would think they would be eager to show their expenditures.
    I’m also curious as to where the idea of health care benefits came from and why.

  15. *comment removed*

    • Hi Rex,

      While we at Grapevine Texas Online appreciate yours and everyone else’s enthusiasm about the upcoming vote on May 14th, we do lightly moderate these comments. Anything considered a personal attack will be removed. We hope you understand.

      We would also appreciate if everyone stayed on a productive path that included discussing the future of Grapevine and the impacts of this election on that future.

      Thanks for the discussion so far. Please continue this if you like in a productive and respectful manner.

      Thanks,

      Joe

  16. Kathleen is the former president of the mid-cities Democrats and she is the current co-chair of a liberal political group called “Drinking Liberally.” Yes, the organization is actually called Drinking Liberally. The main focus of this liberal group is…drinking alcohol LIBERALLY at bars with “like-minded, liberals” in an effort to convert strangers to the Democrat party over a shared pitcher of beer. Seriously???? Of course, none of this information is on her website, and she has the audacity to claim to be transparent while omitting all of this. Very deceptive indeed, Kathleen! I can’t imagine that if Grapevine residents knew about Kathleen’s liberal agenda and her plans to expand government and increase taxes in Grapevine that she would receive more than 10% of the votes.

    • I have attended Drinking Liberally meetings two or three times, and they are nothing like what you claim. The focus is on conversation over dinner, not excessive drinking. Your description of those gatherings is as inaccurate as the rest of your comment. Kathleen’s agenda is better government, not bigger government, and better stewardship of taxpayer dollars, not increasing taxes. Your personal attacks and rumor-mongering don’t serve your candidate well. Voters who care about issues more than labels will vote for Kathleen.

  17. *comment removed*

  18. What is it about Kathleen’s candidate that is so concerning for Grapevine residents? BJ’s comment (which was the second “negative Kathleeen comment” to be removed by the website) is indicative of the great concern and anxiety that Grapevine residents have over the possibility of Kathleen being a member of the city council. I’ll be careful not to question Kathleen’s qualifications or point out her political funding so that my comment won’t be removed by the censor-police. However, I would like to point out that Kathleen’s candidacy is already causing strife in Grapevine. How much worse will it be for Grapevine residents if Kathleen has power?

  19. I’m voting for Roy Stewart. I like Deverick too, but he’s just too inexperienced. Plus, Deverick and Kathleen are both newcomers to Grapevine (Deverick has lived here 2 years and Kathleen has lived here 6 years). Comparing that with Roy’s 30 years of living in and serving in Grapevine, it is pretty clear who has the experience to continue with Grapevine’s tradition of excellence. Good luck to all the candidates and thank God for Roy Stewart!

  20. I have lived in Grapevine for 3 years and was in Southlake for 4 years prior; further, I have lived the majority of my life in the D/FW metroplex. While I thank you for your comment, I want readers to understand I am not new to this area.

  21. I know Kathleen and her family. She’s lived in Grapevine for eight years and grew up in Colleyville. She’s a graduate of Grapevine High. Her grandparents and great grandparents are buried at Grapevine Cemetery. She is hardly a “newcomer”.

  22. Colleyville and Grapevine are quite different cities. Someone growing up in Colleyville is not imputed with the experience of growing up or living in Grapevine. Someone with only 8 total years of living in a city cannot make that period of time seem longer by pointing to the burial location of relatives. Grapevine residents are proud of Grapevine, which is unlike any other city, and the length of time a candidate lives within the city matters.

    • Sounds like you should run for City Council and change the city charter to only allow people born in Grapevine to be elected. Wait, that would exclude about everyone except the mayor!

  23. The length of time someone lives in Grapevine shows the dedication someone has for our wonderful city. It also shows how experienced they are in Grapevine’s heritage and how vested they are in Grapevine’s future. I guess I’m not surprised that someone from Colleyville doesn’t understand that.

  24. The length of time a candidate has lived in Grapevine shows how invested they are in our great city. It also shows how experienced they are in Grapevine’s heritage and how dedicated they are to Grapevine’s future. Perhaps, if I grew up in Colleyville, I would feel differently, but I think experience in Grapevine is an important factor is determining a candidates qualifications.

    • Guess the old saying “I got here as fast as I could” doesn’t mean anything to you- sounds like anyone born a mile from Grapevine is considered a Yankee! Good thing we have such good southern hospitality.

      CA maybe you should post your birth certificate to prove you’re better than everyone else that moved to Grapevine.