Get to know the new mayor of Lubbock, Tray Payne
Tray Payne is the mayor of Lubbock. He took office just weeks ago after winning the mayoral election on May 7 with more than two-thirds of the five votes. He chaired his first city council meeting in late May. But who is Tray Payne and what are his top priorities as Lubbock’s new chief executive? We sat down with him last week to find out.
Background and family life
“I’m a small-town kid. I grew up in the great town of Post,” Payne said in an interview with the Avalanche-Journal. “I’m a very, very family-oriented guy. I have two older brothers and a younger sister, and we have a very, very large family. Payne said he had 28 great aunts and uncles.
Payne has been married to his wife Heidi for 22 years and together they have four daughters, two of whom attend Texas Tech and the other two are in college.
“Most of my free time is spent with my family,” Payne said.
Payne explained that he is a man of faith, placing his identity in his Christian beliefs.
“My Christian faith is my base. That’s my solid foundation, and so everything flows from that,” Payne said.
Payne attended Texas Tech and earned a degree in accounting in 1996 before heading to Oklahoma City University to pursue a law degree. He graduated from OCU in 2000 and returned to Lubbock soon after to start a family. He is now a practicing lawyer in town.
“When I graduated in accounting, I went to work for a local accounting firm doing auditing, and stayed there for a short time before deciding to go to law school,” said Payne. “I moved back to Lubbock in 2000 with my wife, and we got married in August 2000 and found out she was pregnant in September 2000, so my eldest daughter arrived soon after.”
Payne said he worked his way through college to pay tuition, which landed him a number of jobs that complemented his resume, in addition to experience in accounting and law.
“I had a lot of jobs,” Payne said. “I worked at the downtown branch of the post office here. I worked for a long time at the Lone Star Oyster Bar, the former barbecue of Whistling Dixie. I mean, I had a lot of jobs, I was selling costumes at the mall. I did everything I could to go to school,” Payne said, including working on the oil fields during the summers.
The first days at the office
Payne fought in his first city council meeting as mayor on May 24 after being sworn in a week earlier. The council took steps to advance much-needed street repairs, familiarized itself with recent progress on a new unified development code, and approved and denied zoning applications. From the stage, new councilor Christy Martinez-Garcia compared that first meeting to riding a bike with training wheels.
“After going through this process, I now feel much more comfortable,” Payne said. “As Ms. Martinez-Garcia said, we’re all on training wheels right now, and as we take those training wheels off and get to know things a little more, I think it’s much better.”
Outside of the boardroom, Payne has been busy adjusting to his new role.
“My favorite part so far, last week I started going down the floors (in Citizens Tower) and using my keycard and opening doors and knocking on some people’s door and saying : ‘Hey, my name is Tray. I work here. I’m new,” Payne said. “I just met the people who work here. We focus a lot on department heads and people at the top, but getting to know people who are like you and me – it’s their job, it’s their livelihood, and knowing what their worries are and their concerns is really important to me.”
In addition to meeting the staff, Payne also spent time getting to know the other people on the stage and learning more about city government and politics.
“I think we’re going to have a good team,” Payne said. “I think the people we have here are completely invested in wanting 100% of the best not just for their districts, but for Lubbock.”
“I think we’re going to work well together because I think everyone has the same goal in mind,” Payne said. “Let’s do what’s best. We’re not always going to agree, I think we know that. If we had 100% agreement all the time, I don’t think that’s always what’s best for the city. You know, sometimes you have to have disagreements. But I believe we will work in parallel to do what is best for Lubbock. »
“Politically, getting a solid foundation, I feel like we’re kind of on quicksand right now because there’s a lot of stuff happening to us and we need to learn how politics works a certain way,” Payne added.
Payne’s political priorities
“We’re getting into the budget, and there are a lot of issues that we want to try to resolve this summer before the budget season starts, one of them being the streets and roads bond package, a another being a UDC, or the Uniform Development Code, trying to see if we can somehow get things done,” Payne said. “I think it helps our city as a whole to be more cohesive and to develop and codify some of these issues.”
The issue of streets and roads has been one of Payne’s main campaign points this election season after a bond package that included several road widening and repair projects fell through in the November election. 2021. At its last meeting, the city council agreed to form a citizens’ advisory committee to consider how to reconfigure the package to better meet the wishes of voters.
“If we can get this advisory council together in June and give them enough time to look at what has been done, to see if we still approve some of these (street projects), but maybe in a different form or mechanism to get people to let them vote, I really think that’s going to be important to us as we continue to grow,” Payne said. “We have a huge need, but it needs to be presented to people in an acceptable way where they can get on board and really want to push it through.”
Another top priority for Payne is public safety. He said he was already looking at ways to improve the city’s safety and take care of its first responders.
“We need to look at compensation for our first responders. (The city) made a commitment to be competitive at all levels starting in 2006, and to recruit, train and retain good first responders, we need to maintain that competitiveness in the city,” Payne said. “It’s not always a salary – and the salary is a big issue and we have to think about it – but we also have to make sure that we are a city that welcomes our first responders … and supports them and gives them the tools, the communications and all the things necessary to be truly effective in their work, because public safety is the #1 task for local government.
Part of improving public safety, Payne said, is getting citizens to buy into what the city is doing to improve it, such as moving to a community policing model that brought three sub-precincts of police in different areas of Lubbock.
“In the community policing model that we’ve been and are trying to move through with the patrol divisions, if people haven’t completely bought into that – and they haven’t – it’s down to … the community (to) get out there and get involved, but it takes time,” Payne said. “You’re not going to get people to (adapt to) the way we policed and modeled just in a year or even two years. It will be a long-term plan, and so with this model of community policing, we also need to be more active.
Government efficiency is Payne’s final talking point, emphasizing the importance of using time and resources wisely to serve citizens most effectively.
“We need to be more efficient with staff time,” Payne said, noting that efficiency will correlate with a government that better serves its taxpayers.
“We can see how we can become more effective as a government, being the ‘yes’ government, trying to help people,” Payne said. “Whether it’s a carport they need a gap for or a developer, we need to do what we can to be a city of ‘yes’ and no city of” Nope “.”
“I think it’s important that we all understand that we want the best for Lubbock,” Payne said. “And at the end of the day, if we try our best, you know, that’s all we can do.”