Garland City Council Elections
May 7, 2022
Candidate: Margaret Lucht
1. ENVIRONMENTAL ACHIEVEMENTS AND GOALS
A. What do you believe is your greatest environmental accomplishment as a government official or as a private citizen?
As a member of the Garland Parks and Recreation Board, I advocated for increased access to our greenspaces for all citizens and visitors; xeriscape and natural landscaping; and rehabilitation of parks and trails. I worked with the Bond Committee and the Parks department to identify projects for the 2019 Bond Program. I advocated for parks, playgrounds, and trails and bikeways master plans. I was a member of the Tree Board and support the Tree City USA initiative. I co-founded The Garland Parks Foundation which endeavors to beautify our greenspaces and provides a platform for citizens to add amenities to parks.
At my home, we have an organic garden and produce much of the food we consume. We compost and put a great deal of focus on reducing waste and water usage. I participate in park cleanup events.
B. What environmental goals, if any, would you actively pursue as a member of the Garland City Council?
I believe that humans are responsible for being good stewards of the Earth. Reducing waste and water usage, creating greenspaces with natural habitats, and teaching others how to grow their own food and utilize the natural resources around them is essential to maintaining that stewardship. I support policy that aims to reduce our footprint by advocating for alternative energy, green architecture, and natural greenspaces.
2. ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS IN GARLAND
A. Are you aware of any issues with environmental contamination in your district?
District 5 has a large industrial sector. Economic development is a key platform of mine, and I want to ensure new development is kept to a standard our modern society demands. I would love to eliminate all polluting industry, but that is not feasible. We depend on industry, but need to find a balance between growth and sustainability. The responsibility of leaders is to ensure people live in an environmentally friendly community and development does not negatively affect our health, land, ground water, and air. Where contamination exists, it is our duty as humans to mediate the problem, and our responsibility to create policy that prevents future contamination.
B. If you became aware of areas that have documented or suspected environmental waste that have not been properly addressed, how would you respond to these concerns as a city council member?
COMMENTS: I would advocate for environmental surveys and promote collaboration with state and federal environmental agencies. I would also communicate with my constituents about environmental issues we face.
C. Are you aware of the documented high levels of lead and arsenic contamination in Garland around the Globe Union Superfund site? What would you be willing to do as a member of the city council to help the City of Garland effectively remediate this pollution, keep residents informed, and create citywide standards to make sure that this type of historical pollution is stopped?
I would ask that the city continue environmental surveys of the site to ensure the EPA’s remediation was effective. I have spoken with many people in District 5 who had no idea of the contamination by the battery plant. I think Garland could have better informed citizens on their website and in the newspaper. As I stated earlier, it is the responsibility of leaders to make policy that promotes sustainability and decreases our environmental footprint, and I would support those policies when they come to council.
D. Are you aware of the dangerously high levels of lead contamination found in the soil on the Parkcrest Elementary property, and are you aware that this pollution has been linked to the former Globe Union battery facility at 1111 S. Shiloh Rd? What would you propose as a member of the Garland City Council to make sure that the students and faculty of this school are kept safe?
I believe that collaboration between GISD and City Council is important. As it stands, there is a large disconnect in communication between the two entities. It is imperative that the city and school district work together to promote a safe environment.
E. Even though Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been testing and remediating soil in Garland since 2019, most Garland residents are not aware of the contamination or that EPA has been present. What would you do as a Garland City Council member to improve the communication between the EPA, the City of Garland, and the affected residents?
I would ask that affected residents are notified via water bill inserts and the cleanup efforts, results, and continued monitoring of the site are publicly released on the city website and Garland City Press.
F. Garland has many polluting industries, especially cement batch plants, especially in underserved neighborhoods. Many Superfund sites also exist in Garland. Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), the EPA was tasked with administering the Superfund program. A Superfund site is any land in the United States that has been contaminated with hazardous waste and identified by the EPA as a candidate for cleanup because of the risk to human health and/or the environment. There are over 20 such Superfund sites in Garland.
Given these facts, would you support the establishment of a Garland citizens environmental commission with members appointed from each city council district to advise the council on environmental matters of concern to the community?
Absolutely! I served on Boards and Commissions for over five and half years. The input from citizen advisory boards is critical in all departments. They also provide a platform for communication with residents.
3. POLLUTING INDUSTRY CONCENTRATION IN GARLAND NEIGHBORHOODS
Sierra Club’s values are rooted in principles of equity, inclusion and justice. We support policies that not only preserve and protect the natural environment, but also improve the human environment by promoting environmental and social justice.
A. Will you support and actively promote strong enforcement of environmental regulations that protect air and water quality throughout our city, including the most disproportionately affected communities?
As a resident of one such community, I want my home to be safer. Green initiatives are expensive, and that is usually the reason regulations are skirted by industry. I want to ensure economic development is environmentally friendly, and I support grants and matching funds that would help businesses build in such a way. There are many companies and government departments that aid in green initiatives, and joining forces with them to help developers achieve a higher green standard would be a huge improvement.
There has been a history in Garland of permitting industrial facilities, such as cement batch plants, in low-income neighborhoods whose residents have not always been heard by the City in their fight to protect their own health and safety from harmful emissions.
B. Will you support providing these vulnerable communities with adequate resources to challenge these attempts to increase air pollution in their neighborhoods?
I believe all people have a right to defend their values and concerns. An environmental board would provide a platform for those voices to be heard.
C. Would you support a plan to stop siting new pollution sources in Garland neighborhoods with a concentration of polluting industries?
No one wants pollution in their backyard. It is true that a large concentration of industry is in District 5. A more effective solution is to promote and incentivize green industrial development for new and existing businesses. I support following state and federal environmental guidelines and will advocate for businesses that have the same values.