He will run against incumbent Sharron Spencer in the election May 5.
Community Impact Newspaper sent Merla a series of questions about his candidacy. His written responses, edited for publication style, are below.
Q: What is your current occupation?
A: vice president, Trimax Americas (an international IT solutions company), and I run an executive coaching firm: Core Events Executive Coaching
Q: Why did you decide to run for this office?
A: Three primary reasons: time, experience and diversity. I will start with the latter.
Diversity: My diversity of thought, travel, culture, work experience and recognition of the diverse opinions of others contributes to why I decided to run for office. The changing demographics of our 51,000 population is now 25 percent Hispanic origin. To meet the changing needs of our constituents will take the application of my diverse career experience and culture to help support similarities and differences that people have within our community. A diverse background/career leads to inclusive opinions and forward thinking. To apply these fresh learnings and share the diversity of my career within our community will only add value to all of us who live or visit here.
Time: Time for a new perspective! Over the years I have dedicated time to the chamber of commerce, conducting leadership seminars, working with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and multiple volunteer programs in Grapevine and most of the other cities I lived in. After time spent in the corporate environment (35-plus years), working internationally and domestically, I took early retirement from Microsoft Corp. In the last six years, my time has been focused on helping professionals become leaders. I remain in a leadership role now with my tech and executive coaching firm, but I feel my time is best spent in a leadership role with the community I have grown to love.
Experience: Diversity, time and experience go hand-in-hand. I will apply my variety of experience from all of my learnings from the corporate world, and small-medium business experience, back to Grapevine. The timing is right for me and for Grapevine—with the undeniable prosperity that will occur in Grapevine, much due to the new rail system. I feel Grapevine can use the fresh leadership perspective and business insight to help manage the conservative growth that will take place.
Overall, my time, experience and diversity is broad. It spans from a long, international and domestic career, so it is not myopic in nature. To bring this to the city, as a city councilman, should complement the existing team of the leadership members.
Q: What experience—professionally or politically—do you have that would prepare you for this position?A: What prepares me for the position as the next city councilperson for Grapevine is experience that comes from a very long career in the corporate world. Working with complex multimillion-dollar budgets, fighting for headcount to meet the demand for new contracts, and managing and leading an organization of 300-plus both domestically and internationally. What also prepares me is my record as a proven leader, which led me to become a certified executive coach. In this role I help executives develop professional competencies and help them succeed in their business. Additionally is my deep understanding of cultures. Having worked throughout Latin America, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and then conducting business in Europe, India and SE Asia has broadened my scope of the diversity of cultures and the way people live. I recognize that in a leadership role, whether in the private or public sector, is that with responsibility takes sacrifices to become a true steward of those who work for you or those you serve. As a city councilman, it is service over self-interest, and my experience in both leadership and understanding cultures is what I would apply to our constituents. With my diversity of global and domestic business experience, I am well-prepared for this position.
Q: If elected, what would be your top priorities?
A: In Grapevine it is challenging to find faults in our community. So, my priorities is to ready our city for the new generation and culture by maintaining Grapevine’s core values of strategic and conservative growth. Using my leadership experience as the platform to work with city staff, residents and commerce, I would use my core professional values to help me through my top priorities. These values are: purpose-driven—I believe, where there is purpose it drives passion. Combined it sets the course to get things done and inspires collaboration; stewardship—the pinnacle of leadership is to hold something of trust for others by displaying humility in serving them. As a city councilman, I will do this as I recognize it is about becoming the guardian for constituents; and, the recognition of generational transfer—this is meant to raise the bar to a higher level than what already exists. It is the motivation to pass the knowledge to the next in line. Generational transfer is a true succession plan that I would like to put in place to maintain the integrity of the Grapevine culture for years to come.
Q: What else do you want constituents to know about you and your background?
A: I recognize that I am taking a very unconventional approach towards the campaign and to serving for the betterment of the community. Out-of-the-box thinking and working with people has gained me much success, and I will continue to use my values and experience for the betterment of Grapevine. Other facts include: My wife Laura and I have lived in Grapevine 20 years; together, we have four grown children and three grandchildren with one more due in June; I am a native Texan, born and raised in San Antonio; I have worked and traveled the globe several times over; I speak conversational Spanish and Portuguese; I am a writer and published author; books available on Amazon are: “Core Events of Leadership” and “Core Events of Cultural Awareness"; I’m a certified executive coach, master corporate trainer, professional speaker; I am a Myers-Briggs practitioner; love dogs, fought for the Grapevine dog park; avid bike rider, motorcyclist, kayaker, fisherman.