Mayor-elect John Huffman and councilmember-elects Randy Robbins and Amy Torres-Lepp are scheduled to take the oath of office as City of Southlake elected officials at 5:30 p.m., May 11 at Southlake Town Hall. Can’t be at the meeting? Watch the livestream or recorded video.
John Huffman – Mayor
In 2015, John Huffman was elected as the City of Southlake councilmember representing Place 5. Since 2019, he has served as the Deputy Mayor Pro Tem. He was on the Southlake 2035 Corridor Committee, Southlake Parks Development Corporation and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone while on the Council. Prior to that, he served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Huffman will now serve as mayor of the City of Southlake.
Dr. Randy Robbins – Place 2
Dr. Randy Robbins will serve as the councilmember for Place 2. He has lived in Southlake for more than 17 years. He previously served on the City of Southlake Community Engagement Committee from 2014 – 2017 and the GRACE board of directors.
Amy Torres-Lepp – Place 5
Amy Torres-Lepp will serve as the councilmember for Place 5. She previously served on the City of Southlake Planning and Zoning Commission from 2019 – 2021. Torres-Lepp is a graduate of Leadership Southlake, Citizens Academy and CLASS. She is also an active member of the Southlake Chamber of Commerce and has volunteered for GRACE Feed the Kids and Carroll ISD.
Outgoing Mayor Laura Hill and Councilmember Shawn McCaskill will attend their last meeting for their respective offices. Both had reached their term limits.
Laura Hill – Mayor
Southlake Mayor Laura Hill, Southlake’s first female mayor, was elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2018. She served on the Southlake City Council beginning in 2004. As mayor, she founded the Mayor’s Alliance for Unity and Culture in 2018 and Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership in 2015.
Her priorities have been youth, community, safety and security, partnerships and high-value public services. She regularly invited children to visit Town Hall as part of the Mayor for a Day program. In 2017, she helped launch Celebrate Southlake, an annual gathering to celebrate culture. She has been a strong supporter of the Southlake Police and Fire Departments and formed a safety task force following multiple school shootings, as well as using a school resource officer at every Carroll ISD school. She is an active member of the Metroport Cities Partnership and worked to have Southlake collaborate with professional colleagues. She has worked to provide excellent City services at reasonable costs to the community, helping to approve 10 tax relief measures since 2009, while also pursuing ideas to improve the quality of life for residents.
Shawn McCaskill was elected to the Southlake City Council for Place 2 in 2015. He served as Deputy Mayor Pro Tem from 2016 – 2019 and Mayor Pro Tem since 2019. While on the Council, he served on the Southlake Parks Development Corporation, Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, Youth Sports Association Task Force, Bob Jones Nature Center Board of Directors, Corridor Planning Committee and the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force. Prior to being elected as a councilmember, he served on the Planning and Zoning Commission, Southlake 2030 Committee and the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Southlake is turning 64 on September 22 and everyone is invited come together to share their spirit and celebrate the City we love and call home! To kick-off the celebration, the Mayor’s Alliance for Unity and Culture is hosting a city-wide poster contest, calling for submissions of original art by Friday, October 2.
The theme of the contest is “We are Southlake!” and each artist is asked to visually represent what they love and are celebrating about our community this birthday. Participants are asked to display the posters or art in your windows or front yard for the community to see and enjoy throughout during the City’s birthday week September 20 – 26.
Mayor Laura Hill and the Mayor’s Alliance for Unity and Culture will judge entries and select winners. Winners will be announced in early October.
Art submissions will be judged by age category (see official rules for more information). The winners of each category will have their art displayed on the light poles throughout Southlake Town Square this fall! All posters submitted will be included in a celebratory mosaic, also exhibited in Southlake Town Square, to share the unity and spirit of Southlake.
All art must be the original work of the entrant and should be finished and unframed. Any artistic medium or size is acceptable, but entries must be submitted in vertical/portrait orientation. Winning submissions will be displayed on the light poles in Town Square and may require cropping to fit. Full art contest submission guidelines can be found on the contest website and all guidelines must be met to qualify for entry.
For more information and to submit an entry, visit: CityofSouthlake.com/MAUCArtContest.
The Mayor’s Alliance for Unity and Culture hosted a Virtual Town Hall on July 29 with the Southlake Police Department to ask and answer questions Southlake residents have about the Police Department.
Watch the event recording and follow-up video here.
Mayor Laura Hill was joined by Alliance members and Southlake residents Anthony Shelton and Elisa O’Callaghan to host and moderate the event. Acting Police Chief Ashleigh Casey answered questions along with Captain Randy Thomas, SRO Sergeant John Stokes, SRO Corporal Blas Hernandez, SRO Frank Rogers (Carroll Sr. High School), SRO Cory Rattan (Carroll High School), SRO Brett Roberson (Carroll Middle School), and SRO Anthony Pate (Dawson Middle School).
“The Alliance filled a complete calendar of incredible events for our citizens to experience during 2020 and had to be canceled due to COVID-19,” Hill said during the event. “They were quick to pivot this summer, especially after the murder of George Floyd. We came together and made the decision to give our citizens an opportunity to speak to us and ask us their questions.”
During the event, the Southlake Police Department answered questions that were submitted ahead of time by Southlake residents. Casey and her team answered questions relating to police policies, training and education, the School Resource Officer program, equipment and other policing matters. Though questions were not taken during the event, all questions asked were tracked and after the event Casey answered those questions.
Look for more virtual events from the Mayor’s Alliance coming this fall. Have an idea for a Mayor’s Alliance event? Submit it here.
For the City of Southlake, community conversations about school security have been going on since 2012 and on March 28, that dialog will continue with a special SPARK meeting at The Marq Southlake starting at 7:00 p.m.
“Since the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012, as a community, we have actively pursued through action and words better protection and security in our schools,” said Mayor Laura Hill. “This opportunity will further that conversation with parents about what they can do at home talking with their kids, and what we can do as a community.”
From its inception in 2007, SPARK has created a safe place for Southlake parents to have honest and sometimes tough conversations. Topics range from drugs and alcohol abuse to self-harm and suicide.
“Carroll ISD is proud to be a strong partner with SPARK and the City of Southlake Police Department,” said Carroll ISD Superintendent Dr. David Faltys. “I’m looking forward to taking part in this meeting so we can learn from each other and talk about ideas for the future.”
Mayor Hill will moderate the discussion with Police Chief James Brandon and Dr. Faltys serving as panelists. Also in attendance, the Southlake DPS School Resource Officers as well as the principals and counselors from many of the CISD schools.
“In this day and age having an open discussion about what school safety means for our kids is so important,” Hill added. “The City and CISD have dedicated a vast amount of time and resources to creating a safe environment. Combine that with actively involved parents, that’s a force that’s hard to beat.”
The parents-only panel discussion takes place March 28 at The Marq Southlake, 285 Shady Oaks, starting at 7:00 p.m.
On August 15, as part of the “Taking Flight: How aviation changed North Texas and Southlake” exhibit displayed currently in Town Hall, a panel of key figures of Southlake and its history will be exploring the economic impact that aviation has had on the City of Southlake.
The discussion will mainly be over the effects of D/FW International Airport on the city of Southlake, its businesses and residents. Panelists are set to include, Mayor Laura Hill, Former Mayor and current Tarrant County Commissioner, Gary Fickes, former Southlake Economic Development Director, Greg Last, President of Cooper and Stebbins, Frank Bliss, Longtime area residential realtor, Lou Hillman, and D/FW International Airport VP of Commercial Development, John Terrell. The event will take place from 6:30 PM to 8 PM, Monday, Aug. 15, in the City Council chambers, also in Southlake Town Hall.
The panel is free and open to the public.
The exhibit in the lobby of Town Hall and the Southlake Library is open to the public 10 AM – 8 PM,
Monday through Thursday and 10 AM – 6 PM Friday and Saturday. The library is closed on Sunday.
For more information go to www.SouthlakeHistory.org or call Connie Cooley at 817-223-9606.
For more than 100 years aviation has played a significant role in shaping North Texas. From the 1950s, 12 or more landing strips, most of them grass, allowed pilots young and old to take to the skies over then-rural Southlake.
Since 1964 when the U.S. Civil Aeronautical Board ordered Dallas and Fort Worth city leaders to come up with an agreed upon location for a joint airport, Dallas Fort Worth Regional Airport (today’s D/FW International Airport) has had an impact on the city of Southlake, its businesses and residents.
Those topics will be explored August 15 in a panel discussion that’s part of the exhibit “Taking Flight: How aviation changed North Texas and Southlake” on display in Southlake Town Hall, 1400 Main Street, through Aug. 20.
The exhibit features colorful panels on loan from the Tarrant County Archives that chronicle area-wide aviation events from 1911 into the 21st century. Other panels tell the story of Southlake families and their grass airstrips, popular from 1950s through the 1990s.
Honorary co-chairs are Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes, Southlake Mayor Laura Hill, former Southlake Mayor John Terrell, and longtime Southlake resident and private pilot Zena Rucker.
The Main exhibit is in the lobby of Town hall. Photographs, maps and aviator memorabilia from the Tarrant County Archives are being displayed with the main exhibit as well as in the Southlake Library, on the first floor of Town Hall.
An opening reception and a paper airplane event for children have been held.
A panel discussion on Aug. 1 will focus on the grass airstrips in Southlake and feature stories about a time when it was commonplace to see small airplanes flying around the area. Panelists will include Zena Rucker and her son Dooley Rucker; Kathy Kasper Frank, whose parents owned the Lazy K airstrip where Carroll High School is now; and commercial airline pilots Steve White and David “Rusty” Rhodes, who began flying as teenagers. It will take place from 6:30-8 p.m., in the Southlake Town Hall City Council chamber.
A second panel discussion, Monday, Aug. 15, explores the impact of D/FW International Airport on the city of Southlake, its businesses and residents. John Terrell, VP of Commercial Developement DFW International Airport and former Southlake mayor will moderate. Panelists will include Southlake Mayor Laura Hill, former Southlake mayor and now Tarrant County Commisioner Gary Fickes, Cooper and Stebbins (developers of Town Square) president Frank Bliss, Greg Last, former Southlake economic development director and longtime Realtor Lou Hillman. It will take place from 6:30-8 p.m., Monday, Aug. 15, City Council chamber, also in Southlake Town Hall.
All events are free and open to the public. The exhibit in the lobby of Town Hall and the Southlake Library will be open to the public 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The library is closed on Sunday.
Watch www.SouthlakeHistory.org for any new information. Questions? Contact Connie Cooley at 817-223-9606.
(The photo featured at the top of the article shows Ted Kasper posing with his son Gary next to their antique Waco UPF-7 airplane. The Kasper family built two grass airstrips on their property in Southlake in the 1960s.)
“If we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge.” The words of Malala Yousafzai perfectly capture the spirit of SKIL, Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership.
SKIL, a shared partnership between the City of Southlake, the Southlake Chamber of Commerce the Carroll Independent School District and championed by Southlake Mayor Laura Hill, will ask 20 Carroll students to share their vision for the future and then work with elected officials and local leaders to make it a reality.
“Our children have amazing ideas about what they would like to see now and in future,” said Mayor Hill. “When any citizens, including youth, are involved in setting new policies or providing feedback on community issues, the likelihood increases that the general public will be more educated about those policies. The more open and inclusive the process, the more trust people will have in the outcomes.”
SKIL’s meetings will challenge the students to participate in solving current civic issues at the state and local levels. It will also ask the SKIL team to participate in a year-end capstone service project which will forever mark their participation in the program.
“This student and adult alliance is designed to create better government and a better Southlake,” said Superintendent David Faltys. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Carroll students to get an insider’s look at how civic leadership works and how important it is to invest in your community.”
“I think our role in SKIL is so exciting,” said Mark Gilbert, President of the Southlake Chamber. “The Day of Internship is part of the SKIL yearly journey. Students will partner with a Southlake Chamber member to see how that member’s line of work contributes towards bettering our City. I believe that this will open eyes on both sides. I look forward to seeing in action.”
SKIL has direct ties to the City’s strategic plan Southlake 2030, the Carroll Independent School District’s District Goal to raise the academic challenge and performance of each student, and the Southlake Chamber’s goal of supporting and helping build a strong business community.
“We look forward to seeing what this first class will achieve,” said Hill. “But the real result will be ten years from now when more than 200 young people are using what they learned to make our world a better place.”
SKIL enjoys the support of U.S. Congressman Kenny Marchant, State Representative Giovanni Capriglione and State Senator Konni Burton.
Best Community SPARK: Laura Hill
Now in her second go-round as a city council member, Laura Hill has worked tirelessly for our community for years. Six years ago, she and several other leaders founded Students and Parents Against Risks to Our Kids (SPARK), with the goal of fostering conversations amongst teens and adults about difficult issues. The organization has no doubt helped countless Southlake families.
Best New Leader: City Council member Randy Williamson
The freshest face on Southlake City Council just knew he’d found the place to call home when his family moved here seven years ago. They’d lived all over the county, but when Randy and his brood settled into Southlake, they knew they’d stay here for good. The husband, father to four and rabid Rangers fan has put in years volunteering for our city and community and was elected to city council this past spring.
Read about the other Southlake Style “Best of 2013” by clicking here.