On June 24, Jennifer Staubach Gates will be sworn into office as our new District 13 Councilwoman representing Preston Hollow. She says she’ll always be a nurse at heart and believes her experience will help her nurse the city. Advocate sat down with her to talk about her future as our leader.
What is your vision for Preston Hollow?
I plan to focus my attention and time on basic services. Attention on needed repairs for the streets and the roads. District 13 has the lowest satisfactory rating regarding the roads. I want to work on enhancing and maintaining parks and recreation centers. Work with DISD trustees regarding schools in our area and public safety, because we can’t have a city that’s too safe.
What do you see as the main issues you need to tackle in the neighborhood?
It’s the streets and the roads, and crime, particularly in the Vickery Meadow or Five Points area, which is a top crime hotspot. I want to work in the Vickery Meadow area to reduce crime and work with the nonprofits in the area that provide social services for the refugees who live there.
What do you plan to do from a police standpoint and a social-service standpoint?
Work not only with the Dallas Police Department, but also Safer Dallas Better Dallas, which provides funds for cameras and technology to fight crime. It’s also working not only in Vickery Meadow, but also with crime watch groups and neighborhood associations on how to not become victims and keep their neighborhoods secure. Working with nonprofits to provide technology and the equipment necessary to fight crime.
When your constituents speak about you, what is one issue that you want to be known as being on top of?
That I’m available. A good communicator. That I’m able to listen to their needs and get things done on their behalf. Hopefully be described as a consensus builder.
You previously said you support the expansion of Northaven Trail into District 13, while nodding to cities like Austin, Portland, Boulder and Seattle. What made you think of those cities in relation to Preston Hollow, and what will you do to facilitate the trail’s expansion?
I mention those cities because they have the quality-of-life amenities I would like to see brought to Dallas. For expanding the trails, money has been set aside by the county and Ann Margolin in the past. I’ve been communicating with [District 11 Councilman] Lee Kleinman, and plan to work with the Friends of Northaven Trail. I need to do more investigative work to find out how we can move it forward and get it done.
In a previous candidate forum you said one of the problems with drilling on park land is that there isn’t an ordinance to protect neighborhoods and park land. What will you do as a councilwoman to address this issue?
There is a drilling ordinance in place in the City of Dallas, but there was a committee formed to look at the current ordinance and make recommendations, which was headed by [former Councilwoman] Lois Finkelman. Their recommendations were not adopted by the City of Dallas. I believe the city could adopt stricter ordinances to protect neighborhoods and park land.
Can you give me an example of one of the recommendations?
Like the distance that drilling can take place from neighborhoods.
You got some grief about using your full name in the elections. Some said that gave you an edge. Do you plan to show others they may have misspoken?
Simply put, I used my full legal name that I’ve used civically, and on all the boards that I’ve been a part of. I’m very proud of my family’s legacy to the City of Dallas. I’m not going to comment any more regarding that issue. It’s my name.
Can you describe your leadership style in a few words?
What about when you’re not focused on city matters? What is your favorite hobby? Really?
Exercising. I run outdoors in the neighborhood. I used to have hobbies until I ran for city council. I used to read, go ranching and golfing, but in the last five months my hobby has been campaigning. The only thing that lasted during the campaign was my exercising and prayer time.
What music do you listen to when you exercise? What’s on your iPod right now?
My favorite band is Journey — it’s my ring tone. I like classic rock and country. Zac Brown and Pat Green kind of country.
Is there anything you wish I would have asked you?
You didn’t ask me about my nursing career.
OK. Tell me about your nursing career.
I still keep my license. I haven’t worked full time for 20 years. I substitute. I was a substitute school nurse, and even as of last year I was a camp nurse at my nephew’s camp. I always did pediatric nursing. Hospital pediatric nursing and school nursing.
For how long?
I worked for about five years full-time. But I’m proud of my license. I do the continuing education to maintain it. I thought I might go back to nursing as a recent empty nester. I thought that until I decided to do this. I still practice as a family nurse and a neighborhood nurse. My education and nursing experience trained me to pay attention to detail and make informed decisions, which is good training for a councilmember. I think it’s good for the council to have people of different backgrounds.
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