The Tyler Loop interview: Broderick McGee, Tyler City Council District 2 incumbent

📷 courtesy Broderick McGee

Broderick McGee, District 2 City Councilman, is running for a second term. District 2 is a sprawling area of west Tyler, reaching from North Glenwood Blvd. to south of Chandler Hwy. and includes a region between Hwy. 31 West and Hwy. 64 West. Derrith Bondurant, McGee’s opponent, also met with The Tyler Loop. You can read her interview here.

A Tyler native, McGee holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, a Master’s in Human Resource Management, a Professional in Human Resources Certification and a Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional Certification.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Interview by Zoe McGhee, production by Jane Neal.

How are you managing social distancing while campaigning?

Well, the main thing I’m doing is pretty much holding Zoom meetings with different organizations that have been a part of it. I’m just kind of going about it that way. But the main thing is even when we’re out in public, you know, we all share wearing a mask.

So it’s a little difficult. I mean, because a lot of times I’m at the campaign and now I’m really just by myself, and so just kind of getting back on the trail right now. So the show gets a little different. It’s gonna be a very interesting campaign this year. 

Definitely. How is your campaign addressing the coronavirus issue?

When the issue first kind of came out, we hit social media with some different things that count, which was what the CDC was recommending as far as wearing a mask and washing your hands.

So we’re just kind of still putting that out there on our social media site. That’s really the only method of communication that pretty much everybody’s using right now because we can’t do a lot of face to face meetings. It’s kind of opening back up now, but it’s not going to be any more normal for the next six months.

McGee poses with a Tyler ISD student during Texas Public School Week, March 2018.

With concerns about sales, revenue and economic concerns, how do you think that COVID-19 is going to change plans for what should be a priority if you’re elected? 

Well it is already impacting the sales revenue. I think this is a very different time that we’re living in. I think the pandemic caught everybody by surprise. Nobody was prepared for this, and so it’s gonna take a lot of redirection and a lot of different projects that the city had already started on, or were getting ready to start on, were having to be delayed. For instance, I serve on the committee for the conference center.

We were having at least monthly meetings about how the conference center would be designed and things like that. After the pandemic hit, that project has pretty much come to a screeching halt. Everything is gonna have to be redirected to find out what’s the top priority. For what it’s going through, the city has to start picking and choosing what projects to pick back up. 

What were the biggest challenges that your district faced during your term so far? And what new challenges do you predict moving forward? 

Well the main challenge is attracting businesses to that area (district 2). One of the main things that I’ve heard about that particular area is that there’s no restaurants. People are having to drive so far to have a place to enjoy a decent meal. So that’s one of the challenges that we have and of course that challenge is based off of rooftops. If we could just get more rooftops in our area, I think that would combat that problem.

As far as new challenges, it’s really going to be about the same thing. It’s even more different now because of the pandemic. It’s going to be hard to try to attract new businesses to develop in those areas. So one thing we have to try and do is be creative in our approach.

And we have some things that are in the works, so the main thing is gonna be trying to get those projects that were already in place to start again. Hopefully they know they have the support of the city and the community to help get those going. 

McGee’s campaign kickoff, February 2020.

I saw on your Facebook that you were encouraging people to vote. What are your particular concerns with the pandemic creating barriers to voting in a few weeks? 

Man, I’m telling you what I’m telling people to do is, and I want to be pushing this, you know, pushing this and pushing this. And that is to vote early. Because with the pandemic, if you vote early, there’s hardly ever a line. You can get in and you can get out and you socially distance and it would be so much easier to do it that way.

But if you wait until election day, what’s going to happen is you’re going to have an influx of people who want to show up and you know, you never know what’s going to happen on election day. It could be raining. It could be snowing. It could be a whole bunch of different factors going on and because you are here you’re putting everything on that one particular day.

So I’m advocating early voting. If you’re doing it early, it’s not so much of a hassle to get it done. Of course you have people that want to mail in their ballot and that’s all well and good but there’s still some contact even with that. I’m just encouraging people, starting October the 13th, just go early on that first day of early voting. You know, you have two full weeks to go and do that and not have to wait. So that’s what I’m advocating. 

So besides the pandemic, what are some other challenges like general challenges in getting people out to vote?

Probably transportation with some of our older community that don’t really have the ability to drive to the polls. They don’t have transportation and they don’t have anybody reliable to take them. So I’m hoping that during this pandemic we can provide more transportation to those who needed to, if they do want to go to the polls. Even with the pandemic, you still have to be careful with that when you’re transporting people, you know, making sure that you can allow the social distancing and you can’t have as many people in a van or in the car, however you’re transporting.

So this whole thing has been a challenge this year. I don’t know about you, but I’m just ready for it to go away. 

McGee at a fire station grand opening and ribbon cutting, January, 2020.

Yeah, I feel that. So I also saw that you were going to host a benefit supporting the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County before it got postponed. Why this organization and how do you think it might give you perspective on certain issues that you would use as a member of city council? 

That organization is important to me because my mom had Alzheimer’s and she passed away in 2015. Even then, I wasn’t on the board. Shortly after that, I got really involved with the association and I was really just intrigued by their mission and the things that they do for the community. And so that’s why I actually chose that particular organization as a benefactor for the event that I was hosting.

And as far as city council, with it being a nonprofit, the city has a great affinity for nonprofits. I think my position being in city council will benefit not just that organization but all the nonprofits that we serve in our area just to kind of bring a greater awareness to what they do.

I’m hoping that during this next term we can partner with other nonprofits a bit more closer than what we have in the past. I think since they’re here in our area, it just makes more sense to keep them out in the forefront of people. They can help support these organizations because they are local. 

I discovered that you’re a music minister. How does that role intersect with your work as district two council member? 

Well, you know what, I guess the main thing is, I meet a lot of different people, you know, in my role as a minister of music, and a lot of those people do not live in my district. 

But a lot of them do and those that don’t live in the district, they know people that do live in the district. And so just that relationship right there helps build a great support system as I am going for reelection or even serving in that capacity, because there’ve been times where I’ve been at church or wherever and somebody will come up and say, ‘Hey, I need to tell you about a problem I’m having in my neighborhood’ or whatever. 

And a lot of times it’s not even in my district, but you know, it doesn’t matter. I’m not just a district City Council member, I’m for the whole city of Tyler. So it doesn’t matter where I serve just as long as I’m trying to serve the community. But yeah, I think the main thing is it kind of puts me out more in the public eye that way.

Another thing I saw on your Facebook was your vocal support of the Black Lives Matter movement. What changes if any have developed since this summer, when some of our nation became more aware of racial injustice? 

I think the main thing that has changed is it’s definitely brought out more awareness, and a lot of companies are putting programs together and making statements that they don’t want to be associated with any type of or any form of racism or anything like that.

So I think what it’s done more than anything is brought a better awareness to the communities about how people feel about certain issues like racism and inequality. We’ve been hosting different meetings and then talking about different things and trying to better relationships with the police departments around the nation, just to make sure that everybody understands that we just can’t continue to operate like we have in the past.

What changes would you like to see happening in Tyler in the next 10 years concerning racial justice? 

Well, I would like to see more diversity in leadership roles in our cities, in our county governments. I would definitely like to see some of that. I think that would be a big plus because when you’re dealing with diversity, you want to mirror the communities that you serve. I think that’s one of the things we can definitely try to enhance as far as getting more diversity in our city government and departmental positions, as well as the county government.

I noticed that you have a background in human resource management. How has your training informed how you work with residents and fellow council members? 

It’s very, very helpful. I actually serve on the Benefits Committee for the City of Tyler, and with me being in HR for over 20 years, that has definitely made a difference because the employees of the city need that advocate as well.

They need someone who can come in and make sure we’re treating our employees fairly and make sure we’re paying our employees fairly and different things like that. So me being in the professional business for human resources and then taking that into the city has definitely impacted that particular area of HR with our city staff having a good working relationship. So I think it’s very helpful to have that skill set on board. 

McGee with Earl Campbell at the District 2 Roundup, April, 2018.

If you had to pick one thing for people to know about you, what would it be? 

I guess I would say I’m very fun. I like to have fun and I’m easy to be around. I’m not one of those kind of stuck up type people. I don’t meet strangers, you know, I just love people and I just like to have fun. Life is too short for drama. 

Yeah. I agree with that. My last question is, is there anything else important to address that hasn’t come up yet? And what would you like for people to know or understand?

I just want people to know that I’m here and I’m ready to serve the people of our community. I’m just hoping that they understand, and that they see that and are willing to give me an opportunity to finish some of the projects that I’ve started over the last couple of years.

The major project is the conference center. This is a huge commitment to place this new facility in District 2. It was initially slated to be built in south Tyler. Another major project is the Bellwood Lake Development. Those two projects will definitely make a huge impact to my district as well as the city. I’m just ready to get back in there and get going.

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Zoe McGhee is a junior Mass Communication student at UT Tyler. She is the Copy, Managing and Newsletter Editor for the Patriot Talon, the independent student-run newspaper striving to inform, entertain and educate students and staff. McGhee also has worked part time at her local newspaper over the past summers as a reporting fellow and is a newsletter fellow for The Tyler Loop, where she is ever- expanding her journalism skills.