Like other local politicians whose careers have been in the business world, TJ Gilmore enjoys helping people solve problems more than having to ask them for their vote. So now that he’s been elected the new mayor of Lewisville, he can put that preference into practice.
The 48-year-old Yuma, Arizona, native won a four-way race May 1 with 53.1 percent of the vote. He officially took over May 12 from Rudy Durham, who declined to run for a third term. His first city council meeting as Mayor was May 17.
“You can ask my wife (Tanya). When something comes to me, my answer is ‘How can I fix it.’ That’s my nature,” he said. “People have issues, and my job is to understand what the issue is, and how can we make things better. That’s what I love about this. I love fixing stuff and improving stuff. Maybe it’s not broken, but how can we do it better.”
Initial issues on Gilmore’s radar include the Lake Park area redevelopment, more engagement from the Hispanic community, expanding parks and trails, working with the Denton County Transit Authority, and the 2025-2035 strategic plans. Another is the upcoming annexation of Castle Hills.
“We’re excited about bringing Castle Hills in,” he said. “A lot of people look at it through a financial lens. I look at it as this is America. You should have a say in your local government, and they don’t right now. This is more about citizen engagement and basic democracy than about dollars.”
As part of bringing Castle Hills into the fold, Lewisville voters recently approved adding a sixth city council member who will join the council when the annex is complete late this year or early in 2022. That will move Lewisville from an at-large form of representation to a residential district.
Before the annexation can be completed, issues relating to parks, linkages to water and sewer, and taxes must be resolved.
“The key to this is the residents of Castle Hills don’t pay more in taxes. And by the same token, we want to make sure residents in Lewisville don’t pay more in taxes because the utilities are funded differently in Castle Hills to how they are funded in the city,” Gilmore said.
The city has opened up seats on boards and commissions to Castle Hills residents. Where legally allowed, and in the coming months, Gilmore will seek more boards and commissions where Castle Hills people can get involved.
Gilmore began his public service on some of those same city boards and commissions, then as a Lewisville city council member for 10 years including deputy Mayor Pro-Tem in 2013 and Mayor Pro-Tem in 2014 and 2016. He has been a member of the DCTA the past two years, including one year as Vice Chair.
“I think half of this job is the relationships I’ve cultivated over the last decade,” he said. “I don’t have all the answers, but I personally probably know the person who does and get you connected.”
The University of Arizona graduate moved outside of Boston for about five years before he transferred to North Texas with first employer, Dale Carnegie, in 2000. After living in Grapevine the first six months, he and Tanya settled in Lewisville in 2001 and been in the same house ever since with their three college-age children.
Gilmore currently works in information technology support as client engagement manager for Isogent Data Services. His previous job with Waste Management put him in close contact with area city councils, so he’s long been familiar with how they work.
“People perceive the title of Mayor a little differently from the title of council member. If they have issues, they want to talk to the person they perceive is in charge. And so my role is a bit different now in that I am considered a face of the city,” he said.
“As Mayor, I’m getting reached from folks who would talk to the previous Mayor. I’m brought into conversations with the city manager for long-term strategy. There’s also regional stuff like mayor’s conferences, commissions, and mayor’s calls with the county commissioners. I’m expected to be that conduit to those regional political bodies.”
photos courtesy of City of Lewisville