Final Term on City Council for Wazny

In mid-May, grassroots leader and community member Kathleen Wazny will step down from her role at City Council. This decision comes after Wazny spent years behind the scenes, working tirelessly to make improve the city of Denton by organizing and presenting citizen groups before City Council. Wazny also spent time meeting with individual members even before her subsequent campaign and election.

She stated in an interview with The Dentonite: “What I've learned is that you can get a lot done in one term on City Council—if you put your mind to it.”

Wanzy explained that personal commitments, including the desire to spend time with her three grandchildren (ages 1, 5, and 7) were the driving factor in her decision to not run for re-election. 

“My wings are clipped with the time obligations on City Council.  I have several friends who have either passed away or become ill this past year.  It makes you question what time you have left and what you really want to be doing,” Wazny said. “My calling, after City Council, is to spend more time with these three precious little girls.  Time passes quickly, and I want no regrets that I didn't make time for them.” 

Wazny believes her representation of the ‘grassroots’ members of the community from across Denton allowed for changes long needed within city government, including a new city manager and internal auditor. Although the council did not pass the ethics ordinance, it is under discussion by citizens appointed to the city charter committee according to Wazny. She also campaigned heavily for the ‘hands-free’ ordinance passed on December 6th, 2016. 

English professor and Denton advocate Deborah Needleman Armintor acknowledges Wazny's efforts to put forth an ethics committee were especially key during her tenure on city council.

Armintor stated in an interview: “The new citizens’ Charter Committee (which is tasked with a number of possible changes to consider, including considering paving the way for an ethics ordinance by adjusting some potentially misleading sentences in the City Charter) is a far cry from actually passing an ethics ordinance, but is still a small step in the right direction, considering what an uphill battle it’s been for Kathleen to even get an ethics ordinance on the table for discussion.” 

Armintor also agrees Wazny’s tenure at city council in conjunction with the work of council members Keely Briggs and Sara Bagheri brought in much needed advocacy for Denton. 

“Thanks in no small part to Kathleen, we have a new City Manager with a more transparent and community-focused approach poised to start work later this month; and finalists for the vacant City Auditor position have already been chosen by Council,” Armintor said. “I suspect we’ll be seeing additional welcome housecleaning measures and fresh perspectives in City Hall in the years ahead, and Kathleen’s role in these positive changes cannot be overestimated.”

She did, however, note Wazny’s change of vote regarding the controversial proposal for a $265 million dollar gas plant. Though Armintor praises Wazny’s proactive approach on tackling issues within city government, she found the sudden reversal a shock and a devastating blow in terms of pollution and debt for the city. 

“I will never understand her stated reasons for switching at the 11th hour from being one of the most eloquent voices against the gas plant to being a quiet vote in favor—the deciding vote in a 4-3 majority (with Keely, Sara, and the Mayor all voting against it).  I intend to keep fighting that gas plant before, during, and even after its construction, for the sake of Denton's budget, environment, and quality of life,” Armintor added. 

When asked about criticisms she received throughout her time of serving as council member, Wazny replied: “Criticism comes with the office.  As an elected official, you will never please everybody all the time.”

In terms of advice for individuals who want to have a more active role in local politics, Wazny advises to get involved, but also understand the commitments which come with the role. 

“To have a voice you have to put yourself out there and take risks.  Politics is not a cozy place.  It's hard work,” Wazny concluded.

Header Image by Brittany Keeton