Johnny Lanzillo is seeking election to the Richardson City Council Place 4 seat that will be vacated by current Council Member Mabel Simpson. If successful, this will be the first time Lanzillo has held elective office.
Community Impact Newspaper sent Lanzillo a set of questions about his candidacy. His answers have been edited for publication style.
Why did you decide to run for this office?
I decided to run for City Council because I’ve always felt a call of civic duty, and since I am raising my family here in Richardson, I want to be a part of growing Richardson into the future and providing a different perspective on the council that doesn’t have real estate development ties in the city. It is a sense of civic duty I got from both of my grandfathers, one who moved his family here in the 1960s to work for TI [Texas Instruments] after his time in the Navy, and the other who moved back here to raise his family after his time in the Army.
I also want to set an example for my son, to show him working to better your community is important.
What experience—professionally or politically—do you have that would prepare you for this position?
My experience professionally as an attorney has been focused in criminal justice, so I have a unique perspective when it comes to crime and how to deal with it. I practice in both Dallas and Collin counties regularly, so I am able to see where crime is occurring, how it is occurring and what law enforcement is currently doing to slow or stop it. I believe this experience will be beneficial because as the city continues to grow in population, crime will come with it. So understanding it and being able to work with the police department will be important to help ensure Richardson stays safe as our population expands.
I’m also the managing partner of my law firm, so I have experience in management, leadership and budgeting. I believe experience in running and managing my firm and its budget helps me quickly to understand some of the same issues that the city’s budget will go through.
What do you think is one of the biggest issues facing Richardson today, and how do you plan to address it if elected to City Council?
I could say infrastructure, but every city in Texas faces that. The weather here isn’t kind to the roads. To address [the city’s infrastructure], I’d have to look at the budget and see what money is available, how we are going to pay for it and see where the major focus needs to be made.
Some of the other issues I’ve discussed with people recently has been empty retail space and [the lack of]affordable housing.
The retail space can be addressed by finding unique ways to bring businesses to Richardson and also to help grow the ones [businesses]we have. Affordable housing is important in this aspect because that is the workforce housing. Your brand-new college graduates, people starting up their own businesses and young families moving here for work can’t afford luxury apartments and likely don’t have the savings to buy their own home. So when there is reasonable and affordable housing, you can attract businesses and help grow the ones you have.
The city in the past has used economic incentives and tax grants to attract companies. What means, if any, would you support the city using to attract companies in the future?
I would support the continued use of tax incentives to attract companies; I think it is a valuable asset a city has to bring in these companies. Making sure people in Richardson have a high quality of life is also a good way to attract companies and the workforce they would bring with them.
I also think some of the tax incentives available should be set aside for homegrown businesses and local startups. It just makes sense to keep local business owners here in Richardson rather than seek out and hope you can convince other companies to move here.
What else do you want voters to know about you?
I am here to serve the people. I don’t have any hidden agenda; I just want the city that my son will grow up in to be a city he can be proud of. If elected, I will do everything I can to make sure every vote I received was well-earned.