Race for Place 5: Deb Armintor Wants to Change City Hall Culture

Deb Armintor, who serves on the Public Utilities Board and is an English professor at the University of North Texas, is running a second time for At Large Place 5 on city council.

Armintor said she wanted to run the first time because she had gotten involved with politics at the grassroots level. It all began with the fracking ban and House Bill 40.

“I really went from following closely on the sidelines, to just jumping right in there,” Armintor said.

She became very involved in trying to stop the gas plant that Denton was pushing for. Armintor said the community not being able to vote on allowing the plant to be in Denton felt like an attack on local control from the council people in Denton that were elected at the time.

This is when Armintor said she became an activist, she was going to every city council meeting and being interested in all city council issues -- big and small.

At the end of her first council race, Armintor came in second but missed a run-off election.

“At some level I always knew that I would run a second time,” said Armintor.

Armintor said she’s running again to keep Denton moving forward in the direction of progress.

She sees having power as a way to give a voice and speak for those who can’t, because they don’t have the time or can’t take the risks.

Armintor wants to continue to strengthen the ethics ordinance.

“We need to raise the bar to increase the public’s trust,” Armintor said. “In their [local] government and how the government spends their money.”

Armintor feels that progress is increasingly possible and Denton needs people who will keep pushing for better quality of life, a lower cost of living and a better government.

She doesn’t want Denton to fall back on the progress that has been made and said choices city council makes directly benefits residents in Denton.

Armintor believes slowing down Denton’s growth is the fiscally responsible thing to do for the infrastructure to keep up with the city growing.

“I think it’s been proven that trickle-down economics doesn’t work,” said Armintor.

Armintor is critical of the current city council and doesn’t always agree with how they choose to go about fixing problems.

She said when they identify a problem, rather than solving the problem immediately, they often take the incremental approach; even when it’s not the right approach. She said sometimes the incremental approach is necessary when you’ve done risk analysis, and you are aware of issues you might encounter.

One of Armintor's platform points is getting rid the red light cameras that Denton has at intersections.

Instead of having a discussion about the cameras, city council talked about how long yellow lights should last.

She said she is frustrated with the way they’re handling the problem because she only sees cons with the cameras.

Armintor said she has no one specifically to blame, it’s just the culture in city hall. She thinks she can change that.

She said one big important issue that Denton needs to do is invest in the short-term fixes in order to do long-term infrastructure repairs that will save a lot of money and time in the long-term, her time frame of long-term being 2-5 years.

“I often think of our city as the human body, our roads being the skin,” she said. “If you just keep putting bandaids over something, the wound’s going to fester versus if you go see a doctor, you’ll be better.”

Armintor also wants to change the rates and policies of Denton Municipal Electric and said that they have a monopoly on the town.

She said low-income people with poor credit history or no credit history have to pay more for their electric bill. She continued and said the city should view public utility the way it views public school, everyone should have access to it.

Armintor said one of the first things she’ll do if she gets elected is talk about affordable housing. She said a lot of people in Denton became homeless because they could no longer afford to live in their homes.

Armintor said being a professor hasn’t gotten in the was of her running for Place 5, and vice-versa. She said that she gets 100 percent focused on what she’s currently doing, if she’s on campus then she’s 100 percent a professor.

Armintor said she never saw herself on city council until she started getting involved; she is running for Place 5 because the only other place she could have ran for is Distrcit 2 but she thinks current councilmember Keely Briggs is doing a great job.

“I want to be right here and have a direct effect on the city,” said Armintor.

Armintor said she has zero interest in any government positions outside of the city.

She doesn’t see the day coming when she won’t be involved in local politics, she said at the very least she will be an informed voter.

“Being human means being involved in local politics,” Armintor said.

Early voting begins April 23 and election day is May 6.

Header image by Mateo Granados