District 1 Winner Gerard Hudspeth Strives to be the Voice of the People
Gerard Hudspeth felt the true pull of passion for politics in 2011 as he patiently watched about twenty citizens speak out against a project that they felt was unnecessary to the city.
Though the citizens' voices had inspired Hudspeth's movement, it was the disregard for the citizens' pleas from the city council that really fueled Hudspeth's devotion.
"As soon as the last person stopped talking, the District 1 rep made a motion to pass their request,” Hudspeth said. “Instantly. It wasn’t reviewed, they didn’t give credence to what these people were saying. No time. And having heard the same case, it burned me up.”
Hudspeth was born and raised in Denton. He graduated from Denton High School in 1991 and continued to build his life, family, and career in the city.
Hudspeth has always had an active life in politics: his father Willie Hudspeth regularly attends city council meetings and actively protests against Denton's Confederate monument and other social issues in the city.
“My dad can be a royal pain in the neck. We couldn’t be more different,” Hudspeth said. “So I feel the pain of every politician out there. Me and my dad have a highly contested debate every night at his house. We basically have city council meetings.”
Hudspeth's parents were active in the community's only school at the time, with his father on the school board and his mother a home economics teacher.
“He inspired me to be the politician I am today. We have very different styles, but seeing him active made me want to do the same thing,” Hudspeth said.
Hudspeth followed in his father's footsteps and has become an active Denton citizen. He has served as a member of the Planning and Zoning committee, as PTA president, and as a Leadership Denton participant, and recently won the 2017 District 1 City Council seat.
Hudspeth first ran in 2011. Though at the time a single parent, he was determined to remain in politics.
“I don’t think many people have been in those shoes and don’t understand how difficult it is to work, to then make it to a meeting where you have to sit for hours, get your four minutes to speak, hustle your kid home, and find some hotdogs,” he said.
Hudspeth lost in 2011, but it stoked his desire to enhance his abilities for the next election.
In order to prepare, he has participated in multiple programs like Leadership Denton, Mentor Denton, FBI Citizens Academy, and the City of Denton Police Academy, and has spoken to UNT and TWU students in leadership conferences.
Hudspeth’s goals for city council focus heavily on establishing a voice for the people, and he hopes to prove that by addressing major community issues that the council has disregarded in the past.
One high-priority issue is Ryan High School’s issues with McKinney Street. The street, typically teeming with traffic, is incredibly dangerous to cross as it has no sidewalks and extremely narrow shoulders. Two Ryan students have been injured while walking on the street, sparking debate as to why city council has yet to act.
“We have a billion-dollar budget. And you say you care about the kids and Ryan High School, but you’ve done absolutely nothing to enhance McKinney so they don’t have to walk in the street,” Hudspeth said.
Hudspeth is also focusing his campaign on issues regarding the Denton power plant proposal. According to Hudspeth, the natural gas power plant has caused controversy among many groups in the community that still seek details of the proposal. As of now, Hudspeth is against the power plant.
“It’s the rare unicorn where you successfully brought environmentalists and conservatives together on accord. Environmentalists don’t want it for obvious reasons and conservatives feel like it’s wasteful spending,” Hudspeth said.
Hudspeth seeks more answers on the proposed plant. He hopes to find the proposal and ensure that every citizen's voice has a chance to be heard and thoroughly considered rather than feeling immediately overrun by what the city council wants.
“Are we listening? When citizens, single parents, households take time out of their day to show concern, do we listen? I want the people to reflect fondly and say that 2017 is when city council finally began to listen to its citizens,” Hudspeth said. “The most valuable thing we have going is our citizens' concern. You can always get money. It’s finding the people willing to lend their voice that’s hard.”
Header Image Design by Christopher Rodgers
Header Image courtesy of Gerard Hudspeth's Facebook page