Fourth-time mayoral candidate Winston Edmondson has an extensive platform, but more than enacting any single policy, he wants to be a different kind of mayor for Lewisville. Where he sees incumbent Rudy Durham and previous mayors as more passive civil servants, Edmondson wants to proactively pursue an agenda from the pulpit.
“If there were a candidate running that I got a sense that they would be the type of mayor that gets me excited about living in Lewisville, then perhaps I wouldn’t run,” he said. “I’m not saying they’re bad candidates, I’m saying they’re not the type of candidates that personally I would be excited about voting for for mayor.”
Edmondson graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a government and politics degree, now called political science, with the specific intent of getting into governance. Professionally, he owns and operates his own innovation consulting business. He said he thought when he was younger that he would be looking more toward the national stage, but as he moved to Lewisville and grew older, he saw that local politics could be just as interesting.
“We turn on the news and we see kind of the conflict on the national level, but once we turn off the news what are we concerned with? Our neighborhoods, our schools,” he said. “For what really affects our lives, it’s all about local politics.”
Edmondson first ran for mayor in 2009, in which he earned 33 percent of the vote against eventual winner Dean Ueckert. Edmondson ran against Ueckert again in 2012 and against Durham in 2015, earning less of the vote each time.
Edmondson said he was first compelled to run for mayor to give Lewisville Texans a choice. He said he saw candidates frequently running unopposed and thought the city was stagnating. Despite dwindling support, and the fact that all six council seats have turned over since he first ran, that need hasn’t changed.
“Every election since [the first], you start out with good broad support with people that were excited about my message and were excited about the type of mayor that I would be, and so that’s always been a huge factor for me,” he said. “I know it would be a disappointment for a lot of folks if I didn’t run, if I didn’t make myself available as a choice.”
In terms of policy, Edmondson advocates several changes for key problems he sees with the city — the first being safety. Lewisville Police Department is currently authorized to employ 157 officers, which works out to 1.5 officers per thousand residents, well below national averages for a city of more than 100,000 according to FBI data. Edmondson wants to employ a reserve force of retired peace officers until money can be found in the budget to raise the number of full-time officers. He also wants to discourage crime by increasing cooperation between police and residents with private security footage systems, and specifically by increasing the knowledge that police often request and are given relevant footage from such systems.
Much of the rest of his policy revolves around opening the city up for more residential involvement. Some of this is sentimental — he wants to take a more hands-on stance on citizen recognition as mayor, and encourage a committee to create a yearbook-like publication to help give Lewisville a more direct link to the past.
The rest is about getting residents more involved going forward. He first suggested last week’s candidate forum at Music City Mall, and wants to host more events there in the future as mayor, be they forums, town hall meetings or bringing in experts to discuss issues key to Lewisville. He said he would also make a greater effort to ask council members for their reasoning on votes, to make sure the ideas behind their decisions are a part of the public record.
Edmondson also wants to enact term limits. He cited Flower Mound and Frisco, which do not allow council members to serve more than two terms consecutively but allows them to run again after taking a term off, as positive examples that he said keeps new blood flowing into council but also allows experience to carry on. He said he did not know exactly how he would want them implemented, but that he wanted to see a public discussion on the matter.
Edmondson said such a discussion, perhaps inviting Flower Mound or Frisco residents to the mall to speak about their experience with term limits in a public setting, would put much of his vision for Lewisville into practice.
“When I do things like this, it’s to make sure that the people can see … here’s some examples of cities that have term limits and they’re stating why it’s been so positive for their community,” he said. “If I present that, and the council’s still, ‘No, we like our power, we don’t want term limits,’ and the people now have seen and heard, I think that’s powerful.”
Edmondson also said his more public involvement would have a lasting effect on the position, even after term limits are implemented. When asked why he has not attempted to push the changes he wants to see from his role as a resident, Edmondson said his actions would have more weight as mayor, and that if he is able to demonstrate that it can be a more active position, other mayors would have to follow suit.
“Once the people experience a mayor like this … I feel like the next mayor, you’re not going to be able to run on a ‘go back to the old days’ ticket,” he said. “I want to set the bar in such a way such that folks who are willing to make this sacrifice, and being a public servant is a sacrifice, so for the short period of time, it’s an intense sacrifice, then you can go back to your old life and kind of relax a little bit.”
Many of Edmondson’s ideas revolve around citizen involvement, something Lewisville has lacked in recent years — only 5 and 3 percent of voters turned out for local elections last year. It’s something he acknowledges, and part of the reason he continues to run — he said if he were voted out by a larger portion of the population, that would be one thing, but the city’s voter turnout is so low that he doesn’t feel like the final results are a good representation of the city.
“As Winston Edmondson, private citizen, it’s not as easy for me to reach out and say I represent Lewisville and I want you to come have this discussion with me,” he said. “But as mayor, I can say yes, I am the figurehead of Lewisville, and in that role, I’m telling you that your opinion matters to me.”
As much as he wants to be mayor, Edmondson wants more Lewisville Texans to vote. He sees his candidacy as a reason to do that, and many of his policies as designed to encourage more involvement after the election.
“As mayor, going out and trying to get people involved, letting them know that that’s your goal, that goes a long way,” he said. “When you have someone in that role, who’s the figurehead of Lewisville, and you start hearing from them, I feel like that means something.”
The City Council and Lewisville ISD elections are scheduled for May 5, with early voting starting April 23. Edmondson is running against Durham and Penny Mallet for mayor.
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