Community Impact Newspaper sent Cleveland a set of questions about her candidacy. This article is part of ongoing May 4 election coverage and does not constitute an endorsement of the candidate. Her answers have been edited for style.
Why did you decide to run for this office?
Giving back to my community has always been a part of who I am—from my days in the Navy, volunteering to serve as the Morale, Recreation, and Welfare (WMR) military liaison, to organizing Special Olympics events, such as The Corporate Challenge. In 2011, I moved my family from Plano to Frisco in search of more land, and fell in love with the city and the people.
Although I’ve been fortunate enough to work for companies that allowed me to lead civic-minded groups and give back to larger organizations, my local involvement mainly focused on volunteering at my kids’ schools and coaching their sports teams. I finally reached a point in my career where I have a lot of flexibility, and decided to commit to giving back to my community. Serving on the City Council would be an honor and a privilege—but as a resident, I also feel it is my duty to find ways to serve and give back to my community and my neighbors.
What do you think is one of the biggest issues facing Frisco today, and how do you plan to address it on City Council?
Frisco is very unique. Our nice, wide streets and sidewalks are welcoming. Beautifully manicured public spaces instill a sense of pride. We’re fortunate to have had city leaders who helped bring some eye-catching developments and high-profile companies to the area.
I think a big challenge we face is staying ahead of the curve and managing the growth and development intelligently. We need to look for areas that need reinvestment, even as we orchestrate and plan for new developments so we don’t risk leaving our long-time residents behind as the city moves forward.
Traffic is one of the top concerns for Frisco residents. What do you think are viable solutions to address traffic congestion in Frisco?
There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for a city as diverse and spread-out as Frisco. We need to look at a solution in layers.
I would propose a combination of a Frisco-focused, intra-city transportation system, including something like a trolley that covers major areas, attractions, and neighborhoods; and maybe scooters/bikes for concentrated areas like downtown, the “live, work, play” communities (like Hall Park), and the new University of North Texas campus.
An intra-city transportation system would be especially helpful for our older residents who either can no longer drive, or would prefer not to. It will be even more of a pressing issue when the UNT campus opens, and we invite college students into our community who may have no independent means of transportation and cannot afford on-demand rides, such as Uber or Lyft.
What is your stance on apartments and/or affordable housing development in Frisco?
Affordable housing is a major issue for many in Frisco, and there are programs in place to give assistance, such as the Down Payment Assistance Program. However, I think the requirements should be re-examined.
For example, this particular program allows only for first-time home buyers “with some exceptions”. If we want to encourage our Frisco ISD and city of Frisco employees to live here, we need to remove some of these restrictions. Our community will only be stronger for it. In addition, I think these programs could be expanded to other groups of potential residents.
On the other end of the spectrum, my dear friend’s “Mimi” is in her 80s and wants to be close to her grandkids who live in Frisco. Her husband passed away years ago, and she is on a fixed income. She lives in an apartment that raises the rent every year. It won’t be long before she’ll be priced out. I want to explore ways our city can help seniors like her to be able to stay in Frisco.
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 incentives are unfortunately part of the game when it comes to luring big businesses to any new location. However, these businesses should share the burden of solving or alleviating some of the problems they cause—such as increased traffic and strain on local resources—and contribute to enhancement projects, such as parks or education partnerships with local schools.
What else do you want voters to know about you?
A few notes about me:
- I love meeting new people and learning from and about them.
- I proudly served in the U.S. Navy for eight years, attached to F-14s, F-18s, and P-3s on Naval Air Stations and NATO bases. The hands-on leadership training I received in the military was second to none; it has helped me excel in my career, leading diverse, global teams with both collaboration and accountability.
- Having served in the military and played sports all my life, I know the value of contributing as a part of a team—but I’m also never afraid to step up if a leader is needed.
- I love Frisco for what it is and what it has the potential to become. I’m a proud member of several organizations such as Frisco Arts, American Legion, Frisco American Legion, Women in Technology, and EMC Veterans as well as several community-focused groups.
- I come from a family of educators who instilled in me the importance of art appreciation and involvement as well as continuous curiosity and learning in all areas. I’ve worked hard to pass this same value on to my two kids.
- I have two kids: a 25-year-old son who graduated from Plano West High School, went on to play NCAA Division 1 water polo for St. Francis College in Brooklyn, and is now an investment analyst with an investment holdings company in Dallas; and a 14-year-old daughter who is a student in Frisco ISD and plays volleyball for both her high school team and LoneStar Volleyball club. My long-time partner Wafer also has two children the same ages as mine, except that his youngest is a boy and oldest is a girl. Together, we help each other raise our youngest two, navigate middle school activities and tackle homework for the second time around. We keep our sanity by refinishing our old 1975 Irwin sailboat.