SMD1 Candidate Darrin Fentress Q&A: An Engineer to Serve and Protect
SAN ANGELO, TEXAS -- Darrin M. Fentress, 44, has a Bachelor’s Degree from Texas Tech University in Civil Engineering. He and his wife both graduated from San Angelo Central High School in 1991, and were married at Holy Angels Church in 1992. In 2013, Fentress supported the initiative of having his engineering company open an office in San Angelo. Now Fentress wants to help the City that he and his family call their home.
“I have been married to Lucy Cook Fentress for almost 25 years and have two beautiful daughters, Daylan and Lindsey,” Fentress proudly said.
As the representative for Single Member District (SMD) 1, Fentress wants to bring his experience as a professional engineer to the Council .
What experience do you have that makes you qualified for the position?
“I am a professional engineer licensed in the State of Texas and [I] manage a small civil engineering branch office,” Fentress said. “My entire career has been focused on Municipal Consultation. I have assisted Municipal Utility Districts and Cities with all their fiscal, infrastructure and policy issues.”
Fentress has worked closely with municipal attorneys to make sure mutual municipal clients are in compliance with state laws. He accomplished this by keeping up-to-date with the State legislature regarding new or revised laws that govern local governments.
“I have assisted my municipal clients in obtaining state and federal grants, creating bond applications and subsequent bond sales. [This prepares beneficial] development contracts with local developers and protects the municipality’s residents.”
Fentress also designed and managed the construction of water plants, sewer plants, utility infrastructure (new and rehabilitation) and roadways.
What inspired you to run for City Council?
“I have a lot of experience working with municipalities and I enjoy it. I mentioned my thought of running to a few close friends then to my Leadership San Angelo Class, and I got a lot of support and encouragement. “
What can you bring to the council?
“I’d like to be a part of bringing fiscal accountability to our City,” Fentress said. “I want to be a voice for the other residents in Single Member District (SMD) 1, and work to bring more businesses to San Angelo by stream lining our permitting process by being involved with issues our developers and potential businesses tell me they encounter with our City Staff.”
What challenges do you think people face here in San Angelo?
“First, San Angelo residents face rising infrastructure costs and a very low tax base. We must be more proactive in recruiting business’ to help relieve the tax burden on our residents,” Fentress explained.
Second, he believes lack of viable water sources continues to be a challenge for San Angelo.
“We all must be open to all possible solutions to our water shortage issue,” Fentress said.
Finally, he addressed the aging infrastructure in San Angelo.
“Our wastewater plant is very old. The water and sewer pipes are at a point where major replacement projects need to begin, and of course we have some of the worst roads in Texas.”
What do you want to fix about San Angelo?
“San Angelo itself is a great city. There is not a lot to change regarding its people and venues; but there are issues with the City Government I’d like to work on, such as bringing accountability to City Hall, improving our fiscal position, promoting local businesses, and improving the Planning & Permits Departments relationship with the community.”
Fentress outlined his approach to address these goals:
To bring more accountability within City Hall Fentress said, “I would like to see each department begin giving monthly updates to City Council at the City Council Meetings. All of my other municipal clients require monthly reports from their consultants and operations departments. I find it strange this does not happen in San Angelo.”
When it comes to improving the fiscal position of San Angelo, Fentress explained, “I have been involved in major public facilities construction for over ten years, and I know when a bid or proposal is too high,” Fentress explained. “I have been shocked at the contract prices our Council has approved (as recommended by City Staff). It is apparent that City Staff and Council has worked in the San Angelo “Bubble” too long and do not have the outside experience to negotiate contract prices.”
To promote local businesses, Fentress expressed that he was once again, "disappointed with [the current] City Council and City Staff." He added, “They consistently award construction and engineering contracts to consultants who do not have local offices, thus sending our hard earned tax dollars to other cities such as Midland, Fort Worth, and Austin. I also attribute this to City Staff’s lack of knowledge regarding municipal construction projects.”
Fentress hopes to improve the relationship between the Planning & Permits Departments Relationship and the Community, “I believe these departments are working to improve community relations. I would like to continue to work with City Staff in these departments to continue what we have started,” Fentress explained.
As a Board Member of the Zoning Board of Adjustments (ZBA), he has work closely with Planning and Inspections staff in the past.
“They are doing a good job and are headed in the right direction, but as a City Council member I can do more to revise old or obscure City Ordinances that will help both the City and the community by making the process of starting a business easier, as well as [helping] the community operate their businesses profitably.”
Why should people vote for you?
“As a licensed professional engineer, I have sworn to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public,” Fentress said. “I became an engineer to serve and protect the public and will be in a better position to do so as [the] Council Member for SMD 1.”
LIVE! thanks Fentress for taking the time to speak with us.
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