Shona Huffman is seeking to be re-elected to the Frisco City Council Place 2 seat. Huffman was first elected to City Council in 2016. She is running against Mukesh Parna and Jeanne Weisz.
Community Impact Newspaper sent Huffman a set of questions about her candidacy. Her answers have been edited for style.
Why did you decide to run for this office?
Frisco is a mature city with complex issues that require experience and in-depth knowledge of those issues. I have worked hard in my first term to provide vision and direction in the areas of development, infrastructure, public safety and economic development. I have also led the charge legislatively to protect the ability for the residents of Frisco to be able to determine locally decisions that impact the future of Frisco. It is important that we look to planning for the future of Frisco for all residents. I am ready to continue the work I have been doing.
What do you think is one of the biggest issues facing Frisco today, and how do you plan to address it on City Council?
Keeping up with the growth in infrastructure and public services is a key issue. In the past year, we have worked to complete over 120 road projects and hired more staffing in public safety and public works to ensure we are continuing to meet the high standards of service our residents have come to expect. Meeting those needs in a manner that allows the residents of Frisco to make those decisions instead of state leaders is a crucial factor. If the state is allowed to make local decisions for us, we lose the ability to keep Frisco the unique and thriving, successful city that it is and work with the priorities our residents have established. One example is that our local priority of public safety has enabled us to reduce crime by 2 percent on a population adjusted basis. We need to keep the authority to keep our city safe and the methods in doing so budget-wise as a local decision.
Traffic is one of the top concerns for Frisco residents. What do you think are viable solutions to address traffic congestion in Frisco?
Traffic is a complex issue and has no one solution; in fact there were over 120 road projects completed in Frisco last year. I advocate for a multipronged approach to improving traffic issues in Frisco:
- Improve the roads we have in place: We have worked to improve intersections, adding double left-turn lanes, adding right-turn lanes so that traffic can flow through intersections better.
- Utilize traffic technology: We have adopted technology interfaces such as Waze, smart traffic signals, connected cars program with Audi and others. This includes the nation’s first autonomous car program. In addition Frisco has been selected as one of the early sites for Uber Elevate. Technology will provide the next wave of evolution of innovation in traffic.
- Build and expand roads as needed: I support the upcoming bond package that will include $155 million for new roads or widening existing roads.
- Lastly, economic development plays a role in improving traffic as well. The more job opportunities and employment centers we create in Frisco, the fewer residents that will have to travel for employment.
What is your stance on apartment and/or affordable housing development in Frisco?
Many of these are market-driven, and I am not one to want to control the market. While I am not a fan of building more garden-style apartments, I also see the need to have a variety of diverse residential products for our current and future residents. City Council has worked diligently to reduce the overall zoned multifamily by 40 percent. We have purchased property to use for community needs and parks like the new senior center and the Brinkmann land purchase that actually removed garden-style zoned apartments from future development and added more park space. I personally have pushed developers to phase in more office and retail space before their zoned multifamily can be built and have challenged them to reduce the overall density of developments. We have worked as a council to limit multifamily to major thoroughfares and developments along the Dallas North Tollway where traffic impact studies indicate they will improve traffic. It is a constant focus for council that as Frisco is developed we look to appropriate housing options that encourage new companies to move to Frisco to help with our commercial tax base.
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?
Economic-development tools are a key to the success of building our local economy and commercial tax base. Staying a bedroom community will cause our property taxes to skyrocket. We must increase our percentage of commercial-to-residential property base. By increasing commercial property in Frisco, we are able to provide property tax relief to our single-family homeowners through homestead exemptions. Our 4A and 4B funding comes from sales tax revenue that is largely raised from nonresidents shopping in our retail and would be sent to the state if not used locally for our Frisco Economic Development Corp. and Frisco Community Development Corp. The point being that using sales taxes generated largely from non-Frisco residents allows us to in essence provide property tax relief to Frisco residents.
What else do you want voters to know about you?
I have worked hard to develop my relationship with residents from all over Frisco, and I am willing to sit down and hear about issues and concerns that impact them the most over a glass of sweet tea (three lemons!). I have found that hard discussions and real problem-solving best happens face to face. I believe it is imperative to weigh all sides of an issue with an open mind to determine that which is best for all. But I also know that campaigning is easy, governing is hard. It takes courage, leadership and fortitude to do what you think is right. Doing what I believe is right is what guides my every decision.