Nicholas Friedman // Staff Writer
As he sat back in a chair at GreenHouse Jazz, sipping from a glass of Basil Hayden’s and enjoying the melodic sounds that filled the restaurant, Glen Farris received a text message. It was from Denton City Councilmen Kevin Roden.
“What if the District 2 spot opened up in May of 2014,” the text read. “Would you ever consider running for council?”
With music in his ears, Farris replied.
Glen Farris, the 34-year-old founder of arts and life blog We Denton Do It is currently campaigning for the District 2 seat on the Denton City Council. Citing his love for the community and the experiences he’s had in his time living here, Farris hopes to bring a fresh perspective and reinvigorate the voting community of Denton.
A plan and a perspective
The Denton City Council District 2 special election will take place on May 10, with Farris up against John Ryan, owner of Vigne Wine Shop, as they both look to fill the seat of councilmen Dalton Gregory. Gregory had decided to step down in favor of running for Place 6.
Farris said that Denton has a large youth population and that not many of them vote. He hopes to change that.
“I want to add a perspective that is fresh and free of small-town political baggage that has tied folks up and stopped progress,” Farris said. “We need to guide Denton as it grows so that we end up with a city that we love and not one that we hate.”
We Denton Do It co-owner and editor Will Dilne said that Farris has received a lot of backing through social media and that it helps him reach a younger demographic.
“What we’ve seen in Denton is that many of the young people who will “like” a politician don’t actually get out and vote,” Milne said. “The average age of Denton voters is 63, which is a really scary thought if you spend as much of your time arguing with baby boomers as I do.”
Farris said that in addition to getting the younger population out to vote, he wants Denton to become the cutting-edge leader nationwide for a well-thought-out, planned city.
“Denton is a strong city with a gigantic talent pool,” Farris said. “I don’t want people to think of us as the next Austin or Silicon Valley. We’re the next Denton.”
Denton Mayor Pro Tem and former city councilwoman Pete Kamp offered advice to Farris toward achieving his goals.
“It’s important to listen and learn from staff members, colleagues and especially our citizens,” Kamp said. “Be vigilant, but patient, and make decisions based on what you believe is best for the entire city of Denton.”
Kamp also said that new members of the council are faced with a myriad of information, topics and responsibilities.
“Time management and difficult choices will be a challenge,” Kamp said. “But I believe Glenn is up to that challenge.”
Then and now
Farris found his way to Denton after being dropped off in August of 2003 by his roommates from Boston, Massachusetts when they were moving to Los Angeles.
“I knew my drummer from high school he was a photography student at UNT,” Farris said. “That’s where they dropped me off and I stayed on his couch for a few nights. He was all I knew for folks in Denton at the time.”
Farris then found a house on Broadway Street and a job at Jimmy John’s when he noticed that his roommates were doing construction on a new music venue downtown that eventually became Hailey’s Club.
“I wasn’t that fond of sandwiches, so I showed up to help build the stage and sound booth,” Farris said. “When Hailey’s opened we would book shows and serve as a platform for a lot bands that came through Denton.”
After spending his time booking shows and exploring the Denton music scene as part of his band, “The Days,” Farris moved to different places around the city before finding himself above Serendipity and Annie Girl on the square in 2008. Farris said this is where he created We Denton Do It, a blog centered on life in Denton, in 2011.
“We Denton Do It gives people a really cool avenue to see what they can do,” Farris said. “It’s led to a connection between the academic community here in Denton and the real community.”
Farris said that We Denton Do It, along with his experiences with the people whom he lived by, helped push him forward toward politics.
Dilne said that Farris knows the city well and believes that he offers a different viewpoint from many of the other city council members.
“There are many parts of Denton that have a lot of potential and just need a little TLC and attention,” Dilne said. “I’m happy that Glenn plans to focus on not just the square area of Denton, but the entirety of District 2, which I think falls into the shadows every now and then.”
We Denton did it
In addition to working and publishing on We Denton Do It, Farris is a chair member of the Denton Public Art Committee, secretary for the Denton Main Street Association and president of the Downtowners Neighborhood Association.
“Part of giving back is engaging people and getting them out to vote,” Farris said. “The minute you step out of your door and see the sidewalk crumbling is when you see a direct result of your voting.”
Farris was able to conduct a safety study with the Downtowners Neighborhood Association after residents and business owners on the square noticed that more and more accidents were happening. This led to reforms in sidewalk paint and intersection lights downtown.
“A lot of people on the square live and work on the same street,” Farris said. “The businesses on the square are what will preserve the identity of Denton. A strong business community will lead to a strong neighborhood.”
Recently, the Downtowners Neighborhood Association and the Main Street Association, along with Starr Studios, were able to create custom bike racks for downtown Denton.
“Making the centerpiece of Denton more bike and pedestrian-friendly is an economic engine,” Farris said. “I wrote a grant last year as part of my vision for the area. Part of that plan was to support our downtown economy by providing more bike racks, so we partnered with a local artist to make them.”
Farris said he hopes that projects like this will lead to the preservation of identity in Denton and serve to play off of the city’s strengths.
“We are a group of visionary folks that want to leave this place better than the way we found it,” Farris said. “I have a heart for Denton, and I know what can happen if the city sees unbridled growth.”
Featured image: We Denton Do It founder Glen Farris is running for a seat on the Denton city council in the May 2014 election. He is hoping to bring in his fresh ideas to the council. Photo by Kelsey Littlefield, Staff Photographer.