All candidates for the council and school board races were invited to the Oct. 5 forum.
Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney attended the forum to deliver a statement as he is running unopposed in November for re-election to a second term.
For the council Place 6 race, Sai Krishna, Brian Livingston and Sadaf Haq attended. Haq and Krishna are facing incumbent Livingston, who is seeking re-election for the Place 6 position.
For the council Place 5 race, Laura Rummel, Ruan Meintjes, Rob Cox, Josh Meek, Ram Majji, Dan Stricklin and Hava Johnston attended. Place 5 incumbent Tim Nelson has reached his term limit.
For the FISD Place 4 race, Dynette A. Davis, Muni Janagarajan and Amit Kalra attended. Candidate Sean Heatley has stepped away from the Place 4 race due to family health issues and a work reassignment, but will appear on the November ballot. The seat is open after incumbent Anne McCausland announced she will not seek re-election.
FISD Place 5 trustee Debbie Gillespie is running uncontested and will serve another term. Gillespie was unable to attend the Oct. 5 forum.
Early voting runs Oct. 13-30. Election Day is Nov. 3.
After an introduction for each council and school board candidate, the rest of the forum focused on asking questions to the candidates.
For the city council races, question topics ranged from the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic to Frisco trivia.
Among many question topics for the school board candidates, the district's response to COVID-19, standardized testing and teacher retention were asked.
The following are closing statements from each council and school board candidate.
Frisco City Council, Place 6
My humble request for my brothers and sisters and senior citizens of Frisco residents, please vote. Your fundamental right of vote is for sincerity, accountability and integrity. And I promise you, once a month, I'll be in your community and I'm going to have a coffee talk with you. I will listen to your concerns, and I'll get the answers for you. And also, I want to make a big change. I'm going to have an emergency preparedness plan in Frisco [so that] moving forward on any pandemic, we are not going to be scared. We are going to handle it in the right way in the right time.
Brian Livingston (incumbent)
The last seven months have been a challenge for Frisco. We've seen things we never thought we'd see, and hopefully we don't ever see again. I think you saw what is best about Frisco: everybody coming together to work to survive this. We helped our small businesses; you see groups on Facebook popping up. Things in Frisco are good, but our best days are clearly ahead of us. We're a very vibrant community. We're a diverse community, and everybody has the opportunity to be a success in Frisco. I'm proud to be a small part of the leadership team that gets to do this. As we look forward, right now, I'm concerned about a lot of things I see in the nation. I am concerned about violence in our streets. We've avoided it here in Frisco. We have a great police department, and I'm committed to making sure that they stay funded, equipped and trained to handle anything that comes here, not only for our safety, but for their safety. People come to Frisco because of the schools, they stay here because they're safe. Our economy, our livelihood, our schools, everything depends on us keeping Frisco safe, and I am committed to doing that. And I'm the only candidate for Place 6 that signed the Back the Blue pledge at the request of the Frisco Police Officers Association because it's critical that the men and women that are out protecting us know that their city council member has their back. And I have their back, and I'm not ashamed of it.
This is a city that I have grown to love and really lay my tracks with my family and everyone. And as an elected official, my vision will be to lead with integrity in a manner that is responsive, open-minded, selfless and bolsters the trust of the public to keep our city safe, strong and healthy; to protect and nurture our city partnerships which we pride on via collaboration and mutual respect; to be a good steward of public funds on behalf of the Frisco taxpayer; looking for ways to encourage commercial investment in the city, eliminate wasteful spending, increase efficiency, maximize assets and human resources and support operational best practices; to increase innovation and problem solving at City Hall by bringing diversity of thought beyond my background and my education; to always remember that I serve the people, and it's not the other way around; and I firmly stand by that belief.
Frisco City Council, Place 5
Some of my key priorities are making sure that we've got the infrastructure in place to support our growing city: smart growth. Some of my peers have mentioned the apartments. I want to see some of those apartments converted into duplexes and townhomes. As Rob [Cox] mentioned, it makes sense to have apartments down the tollway; it doesn't make sense to have apartments deep within our community. And that is one thing that I would love to work with the builders [on] to convert that multifamily into a less dense area. I'm also very interested in bringing the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center here; I think that will be a great partnership with [the University of North Texas]. Having worked for a startup, I think I have a lot of great experience and great ideas that can help make us successful. And I'm also very big on Grand Park. I have some great ideas on how we can make sure that we have raised enough money for it to be maintained and not just having to put additional burden on our property tax owners to have to pay to maintain 325 acres. That's going to be a beautiful park, and I can't wait to have it, but it's going to have to cost money to actually maintain. Talking about experience, I just want to quickly mention again, I've led groups for Fortune 500 companies. I may not have a lot of city experience, but I do have a lot of experience in business; making sure that we are navigating through very complex challenges. In my current role, I have been serving on the crisis management team of my organization, and I have helped us to navigate through the pandemic: making sure that we converted to being a 100% remote organization, making sure that we have the right business continuity plans, making sure that we're helping our clients, making sure that they can stay in business and be ready to continue to support their customers. Last but not least, not all new ideas have to be drastic. I would argue that I bring a new and fresh perspective, but a lot of my ideas are things that are going to supplement an addition to what we have today. There are new things that we can add onto the existing things we have today. They're not going to be drastically changing what we have because Frisco is a wonderful place to live.
What I'd like to do is really is just boil this down into the several key voting issues that I think you should keep in mind as you walk into the ballot box. The first one I think is obvious: we are coming off a pandemic; we're trying to figure out how to function in this new society and what that's going to mean for our jobs, our economy, our homes and our children. I'll make the argument that I think you should vote for me because I have the experience and the connection in the community that is deeply affected by the lack of service jobs right now by what's been hitting retail and by folks who are trying to put their children through school. I feel your pain, and I think we can do a lot at the ground level to make your lives better as we move into the next three years. No. 2, we really need to focus on our social and living situation. While the city government is primarily focused on working with roads and keeping us safe [and] making sure our first responders are financed, we really need to focus on bringing the employers to Frisco that are a right fit for our city. And whether that's through [economic development corporation] funds, through going out and recruiting employers that are going to fit the right niche in our community. We only have about 30% to go until we reach build-out, and it's critical that we fill those with the right kind of folks. And finally, what we need to do here in Frisco is make sure that we are keeping our folks safe. With our city growing, we're going to be facing new challenges, and our first responders are going to need to be funded throughout that process, and I stand behind them 100% as we continue to work with our diversity and grow into the future.
Frisco is an incredible place to live. It's not time to experiment with Frisco. We don't need on-the-job training. We need proven leadership. I'm the only candidate that has sat and worked with George Purefoy and his staff and city leaders to reduce density. We reduced density from 2015 to 2019 from 490,000 to 305,000 for future build-out. We reduced 44,393 garden-style apartments that were zoned in the '90s. I'm the only candidate to meet with residents and problem-solve. I helped reduce neighborhood housing from eight-story buildings to four-story buildings. I am the only one that has been able to do that. I'm endorsed by five City Council members and five school board trustees. They know what it takes in Frisco to create such a great, vibrant city, and they endorsed me. My vision for Frisco: I want to continue being the safest place to live. I want to give our police officers and fire department the tools, the talent and the training that they need to keep us safe, but also to keep them safe. I think my vision for Frisco is where we have strong education partnerships that help us create meaningful jobs with a strong workforce; a Frisco where household income stays as high as it is and where we can help reduce property tax off the back of our homeowners and get that commercial valuation up and drive that for our citizens. I'm asking for your vote on Nov. 3. I look forward to serving you as your City Council representative.
There's been a lot of references into leadership and experience and age. We talked about Frisco being the No. 1 city in America, and we have the youngest serving mayor in our history. I think having someone serving on council that is young is representative of the city, and those of us that have experience and have served in multiple roles have the capacity to serve at this level. Specifically, I would reference my service here in the chamber. [As a] local business owner, [I] have been a member of the Frisco Chamber; served as an ambassador; served as a board of director here in this fine organization; worked on legislative issues; worked on on local issues; worked on many different components of the business community, and that is what we need over the next three years. My experience with serving on the board with Visit Frisco, that is going to be a huge economic engine and a huge piece to moving us forward into the future. In 2018, tourism was a $2.1 billion impact on Frisco. Moving forward with social distancing and the restrictions that are coming into place, we have got to revamp and rerun that engine, and I'm the only candidate out of the seven that has experience in the marketing, advertising and marketing Frisco and the tourism that is going to help us restart our economic engine. I highly encourage you to check out my website. I could go on and on, and it would take me more than two minutes to talk about the years of service that I have served here in the great community of Frisco. My cell phone number is 903-327-6872. I believe in "Let's shake hands" and "I'm here for you." In closing, I have made the commitment to run for this position, and I have gone to the last 54 Frisco City Council meetings. If I don't win, I think it needs to be duly noted that my servitude and my service does not stop at this position. I will continue to serve in the great organizations and nonprofits that I have continued to over the years. I would ask for your vote and your support.
What's my vision? It's bringing in world-class employment. Employment is the key to me, and local jobs; making sure that we have cultural programs; making sure that Frisco is actually the No. 1 city. Let's make sure that we protect what matters. As far as my vision is set, making sure that we have the local jobs; that's one of the most important things. The other thing is making sure that we improve traffic. And then also making sure that we have the educational partnership because we have a lot of tax burden, and we pay a quarter of the tax as a city. So let's partner with the with the ISDs and everything. Let's keep that education partnership going. Let's make sure that public safety is a priority in this day and age. The last, but not the least, is making sure that we have the taxes lower. Coming to the experience, one thing I agree with you, Mr. Rob Cox, is yes, experience matters. I was the only one who served on the Frisco Citizens' Bonds Committee for 2018. I work with everybody, every department in the city of Frisco. I was the one who actually worked with setting the financial priorities for the next five years. I'm in touch with every department. So that's what is experience. It's very similar to how a city council operates, also. I do have a lot of experience. Let's make sure that we are not making decisions behind closed doors; to me that is important. I am a listener. I'm a community servant. I'm a servant leader. I have done a lot of stuff for the city of Frisco, and I work with people. I want to listen to the people. I want to be a voice. My name is Ram Majji, and I'm running for Frisco City Council Place 5. I am five on the ballot, so it's five and five. Thank you so much for the opportunity, and my phone number is 972-746-5327.
As a United States Marine Corps veteran, I bring proven leadership that our country has been trusting since 1775 in the business experience to grow our economy. Frisco is a wonderful city full of the best people in the world, and I'm glad to call you my friend and neighbor. My campaign has been endorsed by your Frisco Firefighters Association; Allen West, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas; elected law enforcement officials, including Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree, Denton County Constable Michael Truitt and Collin County Chief Deputy Constable Mike Rumfield. I've also been endorsed by state Representative Jared Patterson; Ryan Williams, his Republican nominee for Denton County Commissioner; Frisco councilman Brian Livingston; Plano city councilman Shelby Williams; and prior Frisco ISD trustee Steve Noskin; and many, many more. Frisco is constantly rated as one of the best places to live in the U.S., yet there's more work to do. Our city needs to attract employers who have high-paying jobs, and we need to stand together as a community and help our small businesses. I humbly ask you to do this by shopping Frisco first. As your city councilman, my pledge to the citizens of Frisco is to put Frisco families first by making sure our police and fire departments have the resources they need to do their job, protect families by ensuring continued public safety, keeping your taxes low and voting against high density. Thank you. I look forward to serving you on Frisco City Council. For more information about my campaign, please visit danstricklin.com
I'm really looking forward to working with all of you whether you win or not because ultimately we all share a very deep love for Frisco. It's our home. I started this campaign, and I've been telling people that the reason I'm running is because I want to make Frisco a friendly city. And then people ask me, "What does that mean?" Well, a friendly city is a city where everyone feels equally welcomed and respected; where you know your neighbors, and you smile at them; where you feel comfortable shopping in your stores and in your malls and doing business in your business community. We need to be more friendly in Frisco. There are areas and there are sectors of our community that are being neglected and overlooked in the business world as well as in the social world. My goal is to try and work with the existing leadership and the leadership to come and the leadership that is in the minority communities and within the business community to help make that possible. I really do hope that I have the opportunity to serve you and to improve the lives of Frisconians. My family and I have loved every benefit that Frisco has given to us in the past seven years. And it's my goal to make sure that future Frisconians can enjoy those benefits and more. I want to make sure that Frisco is a friendly place for our seniors, for our veterans, for our teachers, for our business community, and for our pets and wildlife. This is something that is very, very, very dear to me. It's our home, and it has been my home for almost 48 years, and I don't plan on going anywhere. Thanks again everyone for joining us tonight. I'd like to invite you to visit me online at havafriendinfrisco.com and of course on Facebook @Havafriendinfrisco on Facebook. Thank you so much.
Frisco ISD board of trustees, Place 4
Dynette A. Davis
If elected as the school board trustee, I will work collaboratively with existing board members, city officials, local businesses, community leaders and other stakeholders to represent the best interests of our students and our teachers. Elections are not won by those who stand by and complain. Elections are won by those who show up, and I've shown up every time. Governing is done by those who are willing to listen even to those that you may not always agree with. Public education should not be partisan. We should all want what is best for our children and our teachers. I will be quick to listen and very slow to respond. I will continue to show up every time and be a voice for those who may not always have one for themselves. I ask that on Nov. 3, and even during early elections, that you submit your vote for me. I am first on the ballot. Dynette A. Davis for Frisco ISD board of trustees. Thank you.
I am committed to the enduring success of Frisco ISD. I am a strong advocate for parents and teachers. I believe in academic excellence, fiscal discipline, transparency, accountability and campus safety. I am for lowering the property taxes a lesser tax rate than the board school district proposed. I bring a passionate heart and logical mind and listening ear to the table and assure the citizens that they will be proud of their decision in electing me to serve on our board. A vote for Muni means a vote for the board member who pledges the following: to clearly represent every student, teacher, parent and taxpayer of the Frisco ISD family. If elected, I am prepared to work with the fellow school board trustees and the FISD administrative staff to find fiscally conservative solutions to our budget and proposals to bond projects; to provide ample opportunities to the teachers and students to bring excellence in academics and extracurricular activities; to rise above the status quo and work with the district staff and other stakeholders with integrity and honesty; to bring public trust and transparency to all the levels of the decision making process. I have taken the pledge to end the taxpayer-funded lobbying. Together we are working towards one goal: student success. After all, these are our children, our community, our future. I would be most honored and humbled to have a vote to serve on the Frisco ISD board of trustees Place 4. Thank you.
Diversity is coming to this board and Frisco ISD to explore as you can see the options you have. Our current board and the members that are competing with me are not health care professionals. We are in the middle of a pandemic. I'm here to bring the subject matter expertise of a health care professional to the board. We need it; our children need it. I've been out there for you, and I'm always going to be there. I'm a doctoral student, and I'm always a lifelong learner. I'm going to support our teachers. I'm going to be here for the parents. I want to see happy children, educated children and children that are going to represent Frisco ISD and its excellent standards. You've been out there for us. We've been out there for you. You trust us when you're at your most vulnerable moment. You recognized our services. You donated food for us to help us do our hard work. You believe in us. Now my humble request is for you is to step out and vote for us because we're here for you; we're here to add value to the board. I'm here to thank you for your vote.
To see a video of the full forum, click here.