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Gas Drilling Critics Gain Control Of Flower Mound Council

Winning Flower Mound candidates celebrate. Steve Lyda, council member; Melissa Northern, mayor; and Al Filidoro, council member say they'll act quickly on a moratorium for some gas drilling operations.

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

Flower Mound – Saturday's election has turned the tables on gas drilling in Flower Mound. Voters overwhelmingly elected a slate of council candidates who support a moratorium on some drilling operations. KERA's Shelley Kofler reports discussions on new restrictions are planned for Monday.

The victory party began early for the so-called N-F-L slate of candidates.

The first voter returns made it clear, gas drilling critics had delivered landslide victories for three candidates, the ones that stood up to the current council and backed a moratorium on large facilities that store water contaminated by drilling.

Melissa Northern unseated Mayor Jody Smith 59 to 41. By nearly the same double-digit margin voters elected newcomer Steve Lyda and re-elected Councilman Al Filidoro.

Filidoro: Our residents want to make sure we hand them health safety and welfare we don't just allow gas drillers to come in and do what they want to do.

The bottom line for Flower Mound is that the council will no longer include the three-vote majority that a week ago rejected the moratorium. In it's place will be a council with enough votes to halt certain drilling operations.

Newly elected mayor Melissa Northern says the city needs time to gather more information about health and safety.

Northern: Across the country we are seeing new standards set and we want to look at those standards and we want to implement the best practices available for our community.

Elated voters like Phyllis Strums feel vindicated.

Strums: The truth is coming out the town council railroaded us. They just did what the gas company wanted.

Todd Stanfield feels a sense of pride. He believes Flower Mound has sent a message to urban drilling companies throughout the country.

Standfield: You won't come into our communities, hold us hostage, ruin our water and take advantage of us.

While a citywide vote on the moratorium is scheduled for November supporters believe they now have the clout to impose one immediately before gas drillers can obtain permits to expand. Northern, Fiodoro and Lyda plan to talk about that with the Flower Mound city manager Monday.

The new mayor and council members will be sworn in May 17.

Click here for links to election returns.