Wilson joins group running for Place 1 on council

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Gale R.T. Wilson commended the current city council on bringing new businesses to Old Town. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

The Lewisville Texan Journal is interviewing each candidate who files or announces their candidacy for Lewisville City Council for the May 2017 election.  These articles will allow each candidate to tell the voters about their background, experience and ideas. This article is the fourth in the series. Click here to read the other profiles from the series.

Gale R.T. Wilson, an educator at Brookhaven College, is one of the five candidates running for city council Place 1. The idea to run came to her the final week of filing when she was doing her daily reading on happenings in Lewisville.

Wilson, 44, is a Florida transplant who has been in Lewisville since 2010. She filed for council candidacy on Wednesday, Feb. 15 because she read about the different things going on in the community and loves Lewisville and the impact it’s had on her.

“You want to make a change. It’s not just about the budgeting issues and the city, right?” Wilson said. “It’s about the needs of the citizens as well.”

Resources and education are the issues that drive her, Wilson said.

“You want to be every woman and everywhere,” Wilson said. “I would say education — that’s my strong suit. I want to make sure that our students are excelling in those areas, that they have the proper textbooks and the proper resources, the teachers to fulfill our classrooms. Because our population’s changing, everything’s growing, we need more educators.

Wilson oversees 17 adjunct professors in the business office systems and support program within the business studies department at Brookhaven College. She teaches the office business communications and administrative procedures.

“In education our goal is to teach and reach out, instruct but also take back and learn from those critiques and explaining and so forth,” Wilson said. “I’m hoping it will help me on the city council being if I am elected.”

Wilson said she is the sort that works behind the scenes, someone who moves things around to make the situation better for other people.

Disagreement is important in discourse, she said.

“You want that change, and you want opposition. You want ideas to flow back and forth,” Wilson said. “I always say you can agree to disagree, respectfully disagree.”

Wilson volunteers with Christian Community Action, teaching others how to use powerpoint on Wednesdays. Wilson has been a mentor since her undergraduate days at Barry University, she said.

Wilson currently mentors the early college high school girls at Brookhaven through Girls Empowered by Mentoring, or GEM. The scholars take both high school and college courses on campus.

Delryn Fleming, steering committee chair for GEM, said Wilson is very capable, organized and committed.

“Once she has made a promise about something, she is going to carry through and I think that’s a real important characteristic of a leader,” Fleming said. “She is as smart as a whip.”

Fleming, before she retired, worked in a different department than Wilson at Brookhaven. Fleming said Wilson followed through when Fleming asked her to help in an area outside of her regular job, showing her ability to prioritize extra responsibilities.

“A council person has to prioritize many different constituencies, many different responsibilities in that job,” Fleming said.

Wilson is the only mentor to have set up a semester schedule for her scholar, arranging their meetings ahead of time for the scholar to plan around, Fleming said.

“She expected the scholar to give those meetings a priority,” Fleming said. “In doing that, it’s a very good model for the other mentors.”

Wilson said she has not served on any city boards, commissions or committees.

People need to know more about Lewisville, she said.

“When I talk to my friends, I say I live in Lewisville and they’re like, ‘Where is that?’ Everybody knows Dallas, everybody knows Denton, but no one knows Lewisville.”

When asked about what the council is excelling at currently, Wilson said the reconstruction of Interstate 35 is fantastic.

“It’s taking a little bit longer even going into Lewisville, but I think highway construction is a big concern and I think they’ve done a wonderful job there,” Wilson said.

Wilson said as a homeowner the council has also done a great job with property taxes and bringing businesses to the city, especially those around Old Town.

“The revitalization of the area around City Hall is just awesome,” she said.

Wilson has a daughter and three grandchildren. Wilson also has a Jack Russell terrier mix named Stanka, a name she said people might find strange.

“She’s got a lovable face,” Wilson said.

Wilson was born in Nassau in the Bahamas. She moved to Miami with her family when she was 7 years old.

Wilson moved to Lewisville seven years ago because she wanted a scenery and a lifestyle change. Her sister lives in Lewisville, so she decided to join her here.

Wilson has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in liberal studies. She has held various positions in the education system.

In records from as far back as 1989, there has been one instance of five people running for the same place, City Secretary Julie Heinze said. In 2007 Patrick Booth, Leroy Vaughn, Ron Aljoe, Jim Mundt and Lathan Watts all ran for Place 3 on the council.

“The reason you have a potential for a runoff is… because of how we elect at our city council level. We elect by majority, so we have to have 50 percent plus one in order [for a candidate] to win,” Heinze said.

If one candidate is unable to get a majority vote, a runoff election will be held between the two candidates who received the top percentages. Runoff elections typically cost more than a regular election, Heinze said.

“In a regular election, we split the cost between all the entities, because we do joint elections with Denton County and Dallas County,” she said. “Our costs go down because we can share those costs.”

Because not nearly as many entities are involved in a runoff election, the city pays for the majority of the costs. For a general election, the city typically pays about $10,000, which is budgeted from the city secretary budget.

Heinze predicted a runoff would cost an additional $15,000 to $20,000, which would have to be taken out of the city’s general fund.

Early voting begins April 24. Election day is May 6. Residents will be able to vote for city council members Places 1 and 3, for school board trustees in Places 6 and 7 and on Lewisville ISD’s bond proposal.