Q&A: Candidates for Frisco City Council, Place 6 discuss relevant city issues

Learn more about Sai Krishna, incumbent Brian Livingston and Sadaf Haq, the candidates for Frisco City Council, Place 6 ahead of the November general election. (Community Impact staff)
Learn more about Sai Krishna, incumbent Brian Livingston and Sadaf Haq, the candidates for Frisco City Council, Place 6 ahead of the November general election. (Community Impact staff)

Learn more about Sai Krishna, incumbent Brian Livingston and Sadaf Haq, the candidates for Frisco City Council, Place 6 ahead of the November general election. (Community Impact staff)



FRISCO



City Council, Place 6










Sai Krishna




Occupation: registered nurse; insurance producer


Contact: 302-401-8768 | www.votesaikrishna.com




What did you think of the city of Frisco's response to COVID-19? Do you have any priorities for the position that address COVID-19’s effects on the community?



SK: Unfortunately, we did see failure throughout the nation. This was not new, every time when we anticipate we learn something but we fail in practices and are not cautious. As a newly elected council member, I promise to work with the city and other stakeholders to create a task force where we will review all COVID[-19] disaster plans and see what is currently in place. Next, the team and I will compare these plans with cities throughout the nation, New York City in particular as it was hardest hit by the crisis at the onset, and learn what best practices were put in place and mobilized in order to achieve gains as quickly as possible in the areas of residents, tourists, commerce, hospitality, commerce, healthcare and more.

Then we will compare and contrast the city or cities situationally with Frisco and augment their recommendations with our current plans where they make sense. Finally, we will create action steps as to when and if we need to mobilize to mitigate risk and prevent a devastating aftermath. Each of these steps will be communicated to the citizenry consistently throughout the process. My utmost effort here is that we should be well prepared for any such future disasters and devise a solid mitigation and recovery plan for Frisco.



Why did you decide to run for office?



SK: A success is viewed different by each individual. I define my success as to be able to serve my community that we live in. I have adopted this philosophy to meet my intrinsic need.

I have been pursuing this passion of mine in the communities that I lived in, starting from Mysore, my birth place, and Frisco, my adopted new home. I see a great deal of work that I could contribute by being a part of Frisco City Council.

I decided to run for the office to serve my community.



What experience do you think prepares you for serving on City Council?



SK: I have served as president for our local community board and have served as director for Nation Community Organization.

I was involved and have organized several [community]-related activities, like AKKA blood drive in 2008 [New Jersey] [and] vaccinations for swine flu [in] Pittsburgh, to name a couple.


In addition to the above, I engaged with Frisco community closely in the last two years to understand the needs of the community. This has prepared me to effectively serve on City Council.



What do you think is the biggest issue facing Frisco today, and how do you plan to address it?



SK: I have four key priorities which I want to emphasize on: women’s and youth empowerment, modernization, infrastructure and public safety.

Encourage Women’s & Youth to become entrepreneurs: Provide some incentives for small and family-owned business to continue [to] run business. Motivating and conducting excellent workshops and encouraging small business will increase in generating the revenue to city.

Modernization: Emphasize on city cybersecurity, emphasize on auto bill pay on utilities, and emphasize on reducing OR, if possible to, eliminating convenience fees.

Infrastructure: Emphasize on new innovative ideas to handle the traffic, emphasize on having more lung space and parks, mobile library and emphasize on trails and sidewalks. Frisco City is growing in a rapid pace, [with] people moving to Frisco from all over the nation; we need to accommodate the upcoming flow.

Public Safety: [We] definitely need to recruit more first responders, create a Medical Reserve Corps, build the strong bridge between police department and community and develop the educational workshops between police department and students in every school level.



As Frisco continues to grow, what do you see as the city’s top transportation and infrastructure-related concerns? How do you plan to address them?



SK: Frisco is one of the fastest-growing cities in Texas. There is a need for better planning to accommodate this growth. Infrastructure has to change and allow growth for not just transportation but also in the area of residential, business, parks and sport complexes, human and animal healthcare complex.



What do you see as the city's top issues related to housing and real estate development, including but not limited to residential and commercial development, multifamily housing and the overall cost of living in Frisco? How do you plan to address them?



SK: Multifamily housing is the best option.

We need to accommodate the various levels of housing based on their income and their jobs.

Apartments should be built close to business parks as well as retail and commercial business. This will have greater impact on reduction on traffic flow.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



SK: S-INCERITY

A-CCOUNTABILITY

I-NTEGRITY

In my work life, being in the health industry little more than a decade, seen the lives very closely, which makes me drive to bring city to resident’s door; will work for the betterment of Frisco community. Partnered with American Cancer Society and providing free transportation for chemo therapy treatment for Frisco residents.

Sai will serve community full-time and available 24/7.








Brian Livingston




Occupation: senior vice president, Commercial Banking

Contact: 214-597-1911 | www.brianforfrisco.com



What did you think of the city of Frisco's response to COVID-19? Do you have any priorities for the position that address COVID-19’s effects on the community?



BL: I am very happy with how the city of Frisco responded to Covid-19. While the majority of what is mandated comes from the federal government, the governor of Texas and county judges, Frisco took a conservative approach to implanting these policies. We resisted the few requests to form healthcare committees that would only slow us down and create more bureaucracy, and let our medical professionals successfully guide us through this.

Our businesses are now opening, COVID-19 positive cases declining, schools opening back up and while we comply with state mandates we keep our citizens and businesses’ best interests in mind in making decisions.

I support shutting down when we did and would make the same decision again, but I am ready for Texas to open back up!



Why did you decide to run for office?



BL: I have served as your Frisco City Council member (Place 6) for the last three years and look forward to continuing to serve the citizens of Frisco. I kept my original campaign promises of voting against high-density apartments, supporting first responders, improving traffic and making sure that Frisco is prepared to stay the best, safest and fastest-growing city in America for years. There is still a lot of work for us to do in Frisco, and given our nationally recognized successes, I believe that maintaining consistency is best for our future.



What experience do you think prepares you for serving on City Council?



BL: During my first term serving as your Frisco City Council member (Place 6), I have served on the City of Frisco Budget & Audit Committee [and the] City of Frisco Governance Committee and recently joined the City of Frisco Legislative Affairs Committee.

Prior to being elected, I served as the vice chairman of the City of Frisco Board of Adjustments/Construction Board of Appeals and as a board member on the Frisco Convention & Visitors Bureau.

During the 10 years that my family and I have lived in Frisco, we have been involved with almost every local charity and service organization, supporting them to do our part to make Frisco as strong as possible.



What do you think is the biggest issue facing Frisco today, and how do you plan to address it?



BL: While Frisco has been very fortunate so far not to suffer economic distress related to COVID-19 as badly as other cities, we must remain focused on keeping Frisco as successful post COVID-19. Our sales tax receipts remained flat to positive when we initially expected them to be down 25%, which allowed us to dodge the first economic bullet, but we know we haven’t seen the worst yet. Property appraisals, especially commercial properties, will be much lower next year, and more businesses will succumb to the financial pressure and close.

I want to make sure the we are as focused on economic stability as we are on economic development/incentives and take care of the people and businesses we already have here. Our EDC has already started this shift and are also recruiting businesses that are thriving in this new environment.

My City Council colleagues and I just passed a proposed 2021 tax rate that will lower the taxes paid by the average citizen. We have to make sure that we stay focused on the conservative financial management that have allowed us to weather the storm so far and not put a greater burden on our citizens.



As Frisco continues to grow, what do you see as the city’s top transportation and infrastructure-related concerns? How do you plan to address them?



BL: The top transportation/infrastructure-related issue we have is being able to build out the streets and infrastructure for the portion of Frisco that is just now starting to be developed and, at the same time, maintaining the quality of existing roads and services. My fellow Frisco City Council colleagues and I noted this recently on our new Top 10 list by making reinvesting in the older parts of Frisco one of our priorities.

Additionally, as we continue to grow as a city, we will, unfortunately, see increases in traffic and congestion, but our goal is to reduce the increase in congestion to a rate much slower than our growth. This will be accomplished by supporting our engineering [and] transportation departments and challenging them to stay on the cutting edge of technology and best practices.

Public transportation will be needed in Frisco, but not in the form that it is currently known. My vision for this transportation solution will need to be led by private industry and include multimode solutions that are as flexible as our needs in Frisco.



What do you see as the city's top issues related to housing and real estate development, including but not limited to residential and commercial development, multifamily housing and the overall cost of living in Frisco? How do you plan to address them?



BL: I agree that Frisco needs to have more affordable housing options in order for us to be an attractive option for millennials, others beginning their careers, or those just wanting to start out in Frisco. We are fortunate to live in a metroplex that has some of the best minds in real estate, finance and design that are solving this problem not only in DFW but across the nation. We need to make sure that we are attracting these developers and working with landowners to be more familiar with them.

During my first three years on Frisco City Council, I have been the only vote against a new multifamily development—two, actually—and I have supported others that I thought were right for Frisco. Those that I did vote in favor of, I worked to negotiate a reduction in their density and to keep them away from existing single-family residences. As we develop the rest of Frisco, we will no doubt need additional multifamily units, but they must be kept in line with what the residents of Frisco want. This is a much more complicated issue than most citizens and candidates realize while running for office, and it is not possible to make everyone happy. However, I will always vote for what I think is best for Frisco based on talking to city staff, developers and as many citizens as I can.

Ultimately, the only thing guaranteed to make Frisco affordable is promoting job growth and attracting the best companies to Frisco.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



BL: My wife, Brittany, and I are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters (11 and 8), who attend school within Frisco ISD. Brittany has been on the elementary school PTA board for the last four years, and I have been a loyal WATCH D.O.G. for the last six years. Our daughters play basketball and volleyball at Frisco Fieldhouse and Frisco Flyers, so it’s easy to find us on the weekends. Finally, we are members of and attend Grace Avenue United Methodist Church in Frisco.








Sadaf Haq




Occupation: co-founder and business development, Pain Management of North Dallas

Contact: 502-264-3752 | www.friscosadaf.com



What did you think of the city of Frisco's response to COVID-19? Do you have any priorities for the position that address COVID-19’s effects on the community?



SH: 2020 found us with an unprecedented health crisis, over which I believe state and national authorities spent too long kicking the can on critical decisions down to local officials. One thing everyone can agree on is that COVID[-19] was an unimaginable challenge, and no one could have had a perfect playbook. But we can take lessons learned and use them going forward. I hope to help with more collaboration next time, and I’ve made a proposal that you can see on my website for how Frisco could drive a multi-jurisdictional and matrixed approach which brings all our partners to the table as we recover as one community.

These complex issues cannot be tackled in silos, but must be solved through a matrixed and interconnected approach–one that incorporates the Chamber of Commerce, our ISD partners, our higher education partners, our social services organizations, business leaders, and even retired and active military advisers. Frisco is a strong, resilient community–but if we are not afraid to have difficult conversations, together, we could lead the way for all cities in the nation on this.

This initiative can be funded via federal aid the city has received from the CARES Act.



Why did you decide to run for office?



SH: When I moved to Frisco four years ago, I got involved in the community immediately. I joined the Frisco Interfaith Alliance, which was similar to groups I had worked with before, and was appointed to the City’s Social Services and Housing Board, among several other volunteer roles. I was connected to a wide network of community volunteers this way, and soon, I was encouraged to apply for Leadership Frisco. I was honored to be chosen for that program and graduate with Class XXII, after which I was selected to serve on the Leadership Frisco Advisory Council, among several other leadership roles. Soon after, city and community leaders began asking me what was next and then asking me to consider a run for City Council. I felt I was being called to step up in my community service duties.



What experience do you think prepares you for serving on City Council?



SH: I believe I have a myriad of experiences that prepare me for this role in our community. First, as someone with an education and professional background in community health, I believe I have a vocational training that is useful but not present on City Council now and hasn’t been in over a decade, since Dr. Jim Joyner served—the last medical professional elected to council.

Next, I believe my extensive work with the many houses of worship in Frisco gives me a unique insight to the diversity of not just our faith community but also the needs of our most vulnerable communities. Frisco’s faith-based groups are on the front line of serving the homeless, the hungry and the vulnerable; these are people helped by the private sector, and therefore, the city doesn’t have to step in. As our city grows and these populations in need also grow, my insight will be vital as we all work together—public and private agencies—to lift them up in the most effective and responsible ways possible.

Of all the other qualities about me which I believe prepare me for serving on City Council, I would close with the one I feel most significant: my ability to solve problems and seek solutions, as opposed to being vocally negative but with no contribution. It is not enough for an elected official to simply be against everything that comes across his or her desk. We deserve leaders who are FOR positive change, innovation, vision and community investment.



What do you think is the biggest issue facing Frisco today, and how do you plan to address it?



SH: Obviously, Frisco's biggest issue has changed dramatically in the last six months. I believe the most urgent issue facing our city is how we work through the physical, economic, and emotional tolls of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community. There remain a lot of questions about the data, whether it’s coming from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], state or counties... so we are flying somewhat blind in our ability to project. But by working with our healthcare community, we can still be informed on immediate health impacts.

And there has been demonstrable impact socially and commercially as well. The city budget is going to be affected, over the next 2-3 years, especially as we begin to see the trickle-down effects of businesses closing, workers losing jobs, and homeowners and tenants being unable to make their monthly bills.

I would like to be a part of helping Frisco City Council develop and lead a bold recovery plan. Please see my COVID-19 response to understand my ideas on how Frisco can lead the metroplex and the nation.



As Frisco continues to grow, what do you see as the city’s top transportation and infrastructure-related concerns? How do you plan to address them?



SH: I have met with and am pleased to be supported by many people who have professional experience in matters of transportation, roads, infrastructure, capacity and other issues related to growth. Obviously, we all know that Frisco’s growth has created congestion and traffic; still, I applaud the city for the fiscally responsible choices made over the last two decades. They have done a good job balancing the demand for more roads with the need to allow population growth to fund its own infrastructure—in other words, "Don’t make the residents of today bear the full brunt of the cost for the solutions of tomorrow." Our city of Frisco staff is masterful at anticipating needs and being ready at the right time with solutions.

I think that the biggest concern we face is the uncertainty of what will happen with the approximately 30% of our city that is still open land and remains to be developed. Large, centrally located parcels, like Brinkmann Ranch, provide outstanding opportunity, but that kind of a blank canvas also brings a huge unknown; it could become a big commercial campus or another university project or a mixed-use, master-planned community, like Legacy West. If it becomes 5,000 acres of dense multifamily housing, that will irrevocably change the nature of our city. There is no question that zoning for dense, multifamily apartments is the most lucrative outcome for any developer, but it also puts the largest and most expensive strain on our infrastructure and roads. Frisco must ask whether our City Council will have the collective integrity to do what is right in these cases, thinking not just of today’s developers but also of tomorrow’s residents and neighbors.

As someone with a reputation for listening respectfully, keeping my word and collaborating with compromise, I feel that I can bring a more effective presence to City Council than the incumbent. Frustrated residents have relayed [to me] their feelings that he listens without hearing and serves a narrow political agenda driven by future campaign ambitions rather than what is right for Frisco right now.



What do you see as the city's top issues related to housing and real estate development, including but not limited to residential and commercial development, multifamily housing and the overall cost of living in Frisco? How do you plan to address them?



SH: I believe the overall cost of living in Frisco is both good and bad. The bad is that our property taxes are high, but that is not a city of Frisco matter, since City Council has kept our rate low with a responsible budget. The biggest piece of everyone’s tax bill is to our local ISD, yet it is state legislative policies which drive those rates. I am fortunate to have a very open door with education leaders from all over our area, and we have discussed what could be done to lower school tax rates. I am proud of those positive and mutually supportive relationships built on kindness and respect. I will be able to utilize those mutually respectful relationships to be of assistance in helping lower our residents’ overall tax burden.

Then, the desirability of our community has created great demand, such that people want to move to Frisco from all over the world. This is good, but it has driven up housing prices. Improving how our homes are appraised and taxed by the county appraisal district is another area that could significantly ease the burden on homeowners. As someone who represented the residents of Frisco, I would not be afraid to ask hard questions of the county officials who drive those appraisal processes.

I believe the good and the bad here can all be improved by collaboration between our state, county, city and ISD partners. Respectful understanding that sets aside partisan ideology is how collaboration will happen. I do not filter public policy and people through a political lens, and that is the first step to finding solutions.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



SH: I am proud to have built a successful medical practice in Frisco with my husband, and this experience has proven that we understand the financial and operational needs of a successful small business. I have a solid resume of community service with special experience in the public health, interfaith, public safety and leadership sectors, and I look forward to bringing those insights to bear for my Frisco neighbors. I am proud of my relationships with and strong support of the organizations in Frisco which serve our active-duty military and veterans. I am not bound to any developer, to any special-interest group or to any political ideology. If the day comes where I have to choose between leading with honesty and integrity or not, I will resign my office immediately.



By William C. Wadsack
William C. Wadsack is editor of the Frisco edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as managing editor of several daily and weekly publications in North Texas and his native state of Louisiana before joining Community Impact Newspaper in 2019.


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