I grew up in Dumont, New Jersey - a small town of around 17,000 people in northern NJ. My mom still lives in the house I grew up in, as did my dad until his passing in 2020. I grew up loving baseball and Star Wars, although thankfully the plaid pants stayed in the 1970s.
Thanks to a great math teacher who recognized that I could learn more trying to program the classroom VIC-20 and Apple II computers than I could sitting through repetitive math lessons that I already understood, I was introduced to my future career field in sixth grade. A year later my parents bought me a Commodore 64, and I used that system for all it was worth, programming, gaming and cranking out school assignments all through high school until building my first PC in college.
After high school, I went to Manhattan College where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Science in Computer Engineering.
From college it was off to a 24 year career as a software engineer with IBM, starting in Rochester, Minnesota. It was there that I met my future wife and stepdaughter. We added three kids of our own after marrying in 2002.
Along the way, my interest in politics lead me to volunteer with the Olmsted County Republican Party, serving as precinct chair, county treasurer and delegate to the state party. Towards the end of my time in Minnesota, I began to turn my attention more locally, serving on the city zoning board of appeals. That was a good lesson on the impact of local government, helping determine the outcome of anything from a citizen rebuilding an existing porch that didn't meet current setbacks, to a church wanting a lighted cross atop their steeple, to major retailers requesting signs that didn't meet the sign ordinance requirements.
All through my time in Minnesota, IBM kept sending me to Austin on work trips. I totaled over six months in Austin in a 10 year span. In 2009 my job was moved to Austin and I had the option to move with it or transfer to a different job and remain in Minnesota. After weighing the pros and cons, our family decided to make the move and spent several weeks in fall 2009 searching the north Austin suburbs for a place to live. We decided an apartment was a good way to start, allowing us time to find a permanent home. We chose Hutto as the best combination of small town charm and a reasonable commute to the Domain area. The current Fairways apartments along 130 were brand new back then, operating as Alexan Star Ranch. That was our home for most of 2010.
We found our house in Hutto Town Square and closed in late 2010. When my wife and I divorced in 2014, I kept the house. My step daughter graduated from Hutto High School in 2015. Our other kids started at Veterans Hill Elementary, then moved to Cottonwood Creek Elementary before we moved them to Gateway College Prep in Georgetown in 2013. They are currently in 7th, 10th and 11th grade, but my 11th grader is on track to graduate a year early, this spring.
The first few years in Hutto, I stepped back from all political involvement. With four kids and all of us adjusting to life in a new state, family was the main focus. My kids quickly became involved with baseball and softball. For a few years, all 4 kids were playing at the same time. I was usually coaching at least one of them. As my girls stopped playing one by one, I spent more time helping HYBSA, joining the board and working with a CPA to finally get the league approved by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
I also started paying more attention to local politics here in the city. I think most of us start out wondering what's going on with our water bills. From there attention turned to taxes and economic development. When the city council wiped the EDC board in 2017, I volunteered to serve on the new board. I served on both the type A and the type B / CDC boards from 2017 until resigning when I was appointed to city council in 2020. I also worked with the Parks Improvement Committee as a non-voting participant when they reviewed and prioritized bond project priorities for parks following the 2018 bond election. I attended almost every Parks Advisory Board meeting as a citizen in 2019, until being appointed to the board after a resignation. I served for about a year, having to resign when appointed to city council. I was also asked to serve on the boards of our two local government corporations, Cottonwood Development Corporation and River Creek Development Corporation. I still serve on both of these boards today.
Last year brought about many unprecedented situations for our country, and unbelievable hardships for many. My year was far from the worst possible, but it had its challenges. After 24 years with IBM, I was laid off last summer along with several thousand others. Then my dad passed away later in the summer. Let's just say I was happy to see the calendar move to 2021.
Later in the year, Tom Hines resigned from place 2 on city council. With less than a year remaining on his term, the remaining council members had to appoint someone to finish out the term. At the time I was still unsure if I wanted to pursue a 3 year term in 2021. In a conversation with Peter Gordon outside of the city council meeting, I mentioned a practice that was used in Rochester, MN where they appointed people who committed to not run in the upcoming election so that it was a true open seat without an appointed council member having an incumbent's advantage. Peter indicated there had been no discussion about that approach being used in Hutto. When I was nominated at the meeting, Steven Harris requested that same policy be enacted. Peter asked me about it and I indicated that if council wanted to place that restriction on the appointment I would be okay with that. Council did not choose to attempt to stipulate anything like that and chose to appoint me without conditions.
Even so, I still wasn't sure I would run in 2021. When Mayor Gaul forfeited office or resigned, things changed quickly. Council member Snyder chose to run for mayor. That meant we would have 4 of 7 places on city council up for election this year. That is a lot of potential turmoil in our city after just starting to turn things in the right direction. Steven Harris had been planning to run for place 2, and this chain reaction led him to run for mayor instead. Rick Hudson had indicated he was planning to run for place 5 and the same events led him to run for place 2. And I decided to run to stay in place 2 for a full term.
So, that's how we got here. Hopefully the rest of this site and the campaign in general will effectively lay out my positions and my approach to serving on city council and allow the citizens of Hutto to make an informed choice in the election.
Copyright © 2021 Thornton For Hutto - All Rights Reserved.
Political advertisement prepared and paid for by the campaign of Dan Thornton, 111 Hyltin St, Hutto, TX 78634