EXCELLENT QUALITY OF LIFE
In Plano, we pride ourselves on our vision of excellence. Our city consistently ranks at the top of national studies in achieving excellence in education, business and quality of life. I am Plano Proud! But most of all I am proud of our citizens. Our citizens are the main reason why Plano is a “City of Excellence!” I am committed to supporting and strengthening the strong sense of community and to ensuring an excellent quality of life for all of Plano's residents.
MOBILITY: As Plano and surrounding communities have grown traffic and transportation systems continue to be a significant challenge. That includes a number of issues like additional and better use of mass transit; road repairs; intersection flow-through issues, etc. I believe we have the right experts already on staff to help with each of these issues; if we help to focus their efforts. Some issues will require cooperation between the city and other governments and agencies (like DART), and I believe as a skilled negotiator, I am well suited to help successfully close out these issues.
POSSIBLE ACTIONS: Push for mass transit connection between major centers within the town; Commission an engineering study of street longevity and repairs; Push for free intra-Plano rides on DART for residents to alleviate some of the parking issues in down-town; etc.
WATER: There are at least two complex issues that will require skilled negotiation. The first issue that we need to address is our over-payment for water - a complex contract issue which, as an attorney, I can help explain and negotiate. The second is preparation for future water shortages, which requires pushing the state to take faster action on completing the water plan and building an additional reservoir to support our growth.
POSSIBLE ACTIONS: Renegotiate our water contract; Push the North Texas Municipal Water District to do a better job of maintaining our reservoirs, especially during droughts when access to debris and settled soils is optimal; Petition the State of Texas to get moving on our new reservoir; etc.
PLANO PARKS: One of the reasons I love living in Plano is our beautiful park system. I believe that recreation provided by our parks improves our intellect, physical and emotional well being and is increasingly important to sustaining our outstanding quality of life . I will be an energetic advocate of outdoor recreation, open space conservation, bike trails and other facilities that provide considerable public benefits.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Plano’s appeal as a City of Excellence and a great place to raise a family or to open a business is heavily influenced by our reputation as one of the safest cities in America. Supporting our Plano Police, Firefighters and all first responders is very important to me. I will work to improve our outstanding public safety services through building collaborative partnerships that enhance respect and appreciation between police and our citizens, and that encourage efforts to implement effective public safety strategies.
EDUCATION: One of the biggest attractions of raising a family in Plano is our exemplary schools. I understand that the quality of life in Plano is inextricably linked to the quality of education available. I support the City Council’s strong relationship with the School Board and I will continue that relationship as a City Council member.
TAX POLICY: Delivering basic public services and maintaining tour quality of life is dependent on effective management of public revenues. The balance of residential and commercial in Plano has been well planned and contributes to a town that has many more desirable amenities than our neighbors, growing businesses big and small, and a growing population of age, income, and demographics.
There are a few areas where we can make improvements: 1) We need to be more transparent with regard to tax increases. An increase in assessed property values is a tax increase even when the tax rate is flat or as in the case this year in Plano where the tax rate declined by a penny. 2) We should consider increasing reserves that can function as a “rainy day fund”. During economic boom times, we need to save more so that we can smooth out potential downturns without having to raise taxes during an already difficult time. 3) We should look at expanding the property tax freezes to include more retired or fixed income residents through a local registration and certification process.
ADVOCATING FOR ALL OF PLANO
I believe every Plano resident is important and each person deserves to have his or her opinion heard and considered. I will work toward creating an atmosphere in which all Plano residents feel valued and respected.
EMBRACING DIVERSITY: The portrait of Plano has changed. Plano has become more complicated, growing richer and more diverse while at the same time challenging to an older, simpler understanding of what it means to be a Planoite. This challenge, however, carries with it many opportunities if addressed properly, and with the right experience. The benefits are many: the ability to learn about other cultures; revitalization that is focused on new community needs resulting from our changing demographics; business that can compete globally, pull revenues back to our city and increase employment; among others.
We miss out on these opportunities when we do not learn about the benefits that cultural groups bring. In order for us to remain a best city it is important that we commit to working on diversity and recognize that every person needs to feel included and important. We also need to recognize that guilt does not work in fostering diversity. Shaming people for being in a privileged position only causes people to feel bad; it doesn't empower them to take action for positive change. People are more likely to change when they are appreciated. Learning about cultural differences can actually bring people closer together because it shows us how much we have in common as neighbors.
People can take on tough issues more readily when issues are presented with a spirit of cooperation. We need a more diverse Council so that we can bridge this gap. I have been a leader in bridging the gap between many diverse groups and our community, and believe that my experience, skills and knowledge as an attorney who specialized in family law and is a certified mediator will translate well to the city level, especially in the area of complex negotiations.
TRANSPARENCY: I would like to bring more transparency to our local government. I believe that we can take better advantage of technology to allow greater participation from the general public and to provide a complete understanding into the decisions, reasons, and actions of our local government. This can be accomplished within the current budget at little additional cost. Possible Actions: Allow for on-line participation in Council meetings; Provide copies of more exhibits and other information that is presented or reviewed by the council as well as city boards and commissions prior to, during and after the meeting on-line within a reasonable period.
PLANO GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT
Plano city leadership has done an exceptional job drawing many of the world’s best businesses, growing a thriving and diverse population, and developing some of the best parks and recreational facilities in Texas, while remaining the safest city for our size in America with school rankings that are the envy of the nation. However, we must continue to consider ways to creatively leverage our assets to keep our status as a best city, today and tomorrow.
Given our limited remaining developable space, both new development and redevelopment are critical to our continued success. In all our development and redevelopment choices, we must maintain the delicate balance between the developer (who want profits), the city (which wants to maximize the tax base and other benefits to our citizens), and our citizens (who need to travel our streets, have places to live, work, play, and shop, and maximize their property values). We need to make sure that development and redevelopment is done with an understanding of and emphasis on reducing the impacts on existing residents and businesses.
Collin Creek Mall offers our best opportunity for redevelopment; after losing two anchors and many high quality smaller shops, it’s time to act before things get worse. It is important that we "measure twice and cut once" with this project, as it will have a lot of impact on our residents.
We have several immediate improvements to make as well: 1) parking for downtown is a mess (potentially causing a loss of business for the new and existing businesses); 2) our streets cannot be repaired fast enough (causing damage to resident’s vehicles); 3) rush hour commutes within Plano are unacceptably long; and 4) we have a mismatch between our long-term plan, current zoning designations, and the thoughts of planners and the city council.