Q&A: Keller City Council Place 6 candidates

Keller City Council, Place 6 candidates Mujeeb Kazi, Ross McMullin and David A. Tashman discuss relevant city issues. (Community Impact staff)
Keller City Council, Place 6 candidates Mujeeb Kazi, Ross McMullin and David A. Tashman discuss relevant city issues. (Community Impact staff)

Keller City Council, Place 6 candidates Mujeeb Kazi, Ross McMullin and David A. Tashman discuss relevant city issues. (Community Impact staff)



KELLER



City Council Place 6










Mujeeb Kazi




Occupation: entrepreneur






Why did you decide to run for office?




MK: I have been a resident of Keller for the past 20-plus years and have seen our city grow and prosper. I am deeply committed to serving the community. As compassionate as I am, I feel that with an infusion of new leadership we can make our city even more successful and continue to make it a great place to live.



What experience do you think prepares you to serve as mayor?




MK: As an entrepreneur with an MBA degree and 22-plus years of hands on experience in business management and industry, I am respectfully seeking to serve and give back to my great city of Keller and its residents.



What is the biggest issue facing Keller today?




MK: Our tax dollars are essential to provide quality city services that our residents expect. We work hard for our money. I want to assure Keller residents that I will take care of our tax dollars and will scrutinize every proposed outlay before I vote to approve.



What are the city's top infrastructure- and transportation-related concerns?




MK: My goal is to fight for the interests of the citizens of Keller and not any special interest entity. I promise to work collaboratively with the mayor, fellow City Council members and other city officials to improve the quality of life of our residents. You can expect transparency, honesty and integrity in every decision I make.



What is the city's top issue related to housing and real estate?




MK: Keller is a city of people with big and generous hearts. We take care of our own. As the father of a special-needs child, I can empathize with others in our community with similar challenges and will support initiatives to improve the lives of these families. Similarly, senior citizens and youth alike in our community deserve improved recreational facilities, and I will support prudent funding for sports.



What else do you want voters to know?




MK: As the saying goes, “No revenue, no mission." I plan to help generate more revenue for our city and to fund programs to retain Keller as a clean, safe and family-friendly city by attracting business, investment and development dollars. I am a sportsman and a consensus builder. My passion is to build bridges across communities for common good, unite [them] and help them thrive with peace and love. I am happily married with my loving, supportive wife, Rabia. We have three boys: Ibraheem, Taha and Mustafa.









Ross McMullin




Occupation: attorney






Why did you decide to run for office?




RM: My wife and I moved to Texas almost six years ago. We chose to raise our family in Keller because of Keller's world-class schools. Since then, I have seen firsthand how many of the most important issues facing our city have challenged City Council. Ultimately, I believe we must elect leaders who understand that they cannot govern at Keller Town Hall unless they are willing to embrace the values of Keller’s residents. Whether it is reducing the property tax burden, ensuring high-quality development, collaborating with Keller ISD, building a new Senior Center or improving our streets and sidewalks—we must put the needs of all 46,000 Keller residents first.



What experience do you think prepares you to serve as mayor?




RM: I have been fortunate to work with some inspiring leaders here in Texas and across the country in roles that have allowed me to help shape public policy. For example, I served on staff in the United States Senate, where I identified opportunities to better serve our nation’s veterans and taxpayers. Before that, I served in the nonprofit sector, where I worked with governors’ offices, state policymakers and local educators to help bring better learning opportunities for our students. Growing up, I learned the value of hard work early on by pouring concrete and also running a small family business. These experiences have helped me prepare to serve Keller in a unique, forward-looking capacity.



What is the biggest issue facing Keller today?




RM: I will be a champion for taxpayers. Too many longtime Keller residents are being taxed out of their homes. In fact, our property taxes continue to soar, while the city and other government entities have collected more of our tax dollars on a year-to-year basis. This is why I propose that we immediately increase the homestead exemption to the 20% maximum. At the city level, we must set the example by adopting fiscally conservative budgets that will actually reduce city taxes. To further reduce the property tax burden, we must renew our focus on a cohesive economic development plan that prioritizes high-quality development. This starts with recruiting more excellent commercial amenities to Keller that will help increase sales tax revenues from visitors and, in turn, will help reduce property taxes.



What are the city's top infrastructure- and transportation-related concerns?




RM: When we spend tax dollars, we must focus our efforts where it matters the most: on core city services, such as public safety, parks, trails, streets and sidewalks. Like some of our neighboring cities, I believe we must allocate a larger percentage of the city budget to improving streets and sidewalks. For example, in the current budget year, Keller has allocated about 38% of its Capital Improvement Projects fund for street projects, while Colleyville has budgeted about 60% towards street projects. We can do better.



What is the city's top issue related to housing and real estate?




RM: First and foremost, I believe City Council has a duty to protect and respect the rights of private property owners. Additionally, when a project comes before city council it must be evaluated on its merits. We must use objective data and facts when making any development decisions. Most importantly, we need to listen and be transparent with our neighbors, especially those who are the most impacted by any development decisions. Development issues hit close to home for many of us, which makes it extremely important to be transparent and tell the truth about the many facts and issues surrounding development.



What else do you want voters to know?




RM: One of my biggest priorities is to be accessible and transparent in my beliefs and decision making. If you ever have any questions or concerns during the campaign or thereafter, please feel free to call me directly at 817-962-2262 or email me at ross@rossforkeller.com. You can also visit my website at www.rossforkeller.com. Regardless of who you support, please remember to vote in the Nov. 3 election. There are many good people running for office, and every vote counts!









David A. Tashman




Occupation: business management






Why did you decide to run for office?




DT: I was very outspoken against the proposed Center Stage development, speaking at several council, [planning and zoning commission] and [future land use planning] meetings. I do not feel this type of high-density, multistory housing, which was approved along the Hwy. 377 corridor, is what Keller citizens want. I learned a long time ago you can’t influence change by sitting on the sidelines. Change is needed in Keller, so I decided to enter the race. In other words, put up or shut up.



What experience do you think prepares you to serve as mayor?




DT: First and foremost, common sense. I have been a businessman for over 30 years in both private and public businesses. The last 20 years, I have worked in various leadership roles for large restaurant companies managing procurement in excesses of $400 million. Working under the public scrutiny has truly imparted in me the responsibility of what it takes to manage other people’s assets. In order to accomplish this, you must live with a mindset of full disclosure and transparency. Additionally, I have served on large [homeowners association] boards, a national board of community [homeowners] associations, youth sports boards and boards within the food service industry. I have always given back to the communities I live in. I possess a very pragmatic mindset, and I am known as being fiscally prudent. Respecting other people’s money comes with a great deal of trust.



What is the biggest issue facing Keller today?




DT: Keller is a great city. We are continually being recognized as one of the safest cities in North Texas. I think one of the biggest challenges Keller faces today is understanding what Keller is. To truly develop Keller, we must decide: What does Keller want to be? Today, we have 46,000 citizens. How big does or can Keller become? What type of development do we want? Today, there appears to be a strong disconnect between what the citizens of Keller want compared to what some on council want. To address this, I think we need to get out of Keller Town Hall and in front of more citizens. We must begin to talk and reach more Keller citizens, not just those few thousand that vote and show up. Keller overall has a very low voter turnout, which we need to fix. In general, about 10% of registered Keller voters vote. In most elections, our leaders are voted in by less than 2000 votes.


What are the city's top infrastructure and transportation-related concerns?




DT: Traffic, traffic and more traffic. I continually hear that getting around in Keller is becoming a challenge. A drive that once took only 10 minutes now takes 20. This is one of the reasons I was so opposed to the Center Stage Hwy. 377 high-density development. I think the first step is a joint meeting with staff and [the Texas Department of Transportation] to help us understand what can be done along 377, with 470 apartments coming, along and with hundreds more being built in Fort Worth and Roanoke—not to mention the Circle T and Charles Schwab developments. We need to be proactive with all agencies to solve our growing traffic challenges.



What is the city's top issue related to housing and real estate?




DT: Again, as I see it, there is disconnect between what the citizens want and what council wants. There is no easy answer, and we will never make everyone happy. My goal will be to look at development on a case-by-case basis. My decisions will be made using input from all sides. I will not discriminate even if I don’t agree. If a citizen takes the time to communicate, they should be heard. There is very little land left to develop, and we need to get it right. However, before we even think about more development, we must take a deep dive and understand if we have enough police and fire [and] first responders to support such growth, particularly police. In addition to the city of Keller, the Keller [Police Department] supports Westlake, and with all the growth in Westlake, we must ensure our police infrastructure is on solid ground. That said, I feel we need more retail and commercial [development]. There is no reason why we can’t attract professional services, such as CPAs, legal and medical services, as well as round out our area with more full-service restaurants. We don’t need more apartments—period!


What else do you want voters to know?




DT: We live in one of the best cities in Texas, with our big-city comforts and small-town charm! Keller has been my home for over six years. It’s time to restore Keller politics and return Keller back to its rightful owners: Keller citizens. The opinions and desires of Keller citizens will always be my main priority, not those of the developer. A promise is a promise, and no means no. All future development must be well-planned and be appropriate to the area and to Keller citizens, not just council! This is my promise. I will vigorously serve the residents of Keller with excellence in all I do. I will serve with integrity and creativity. I will ensure communications are a two-way street, and I will listen with curiosity and speak with honesty and will not dismiss opinions simply because I disagree. I will continually seek to understand calling upon staff, trusted advisors, fellow council [members] and the community when faced with questions I do not have all the answers to. I don’t pretend to know everything. I humbly ask for your vote.


By Ian Pribanic
Ian Pribanic covers city government, transportation, business and education news for Community Impact Newspaper in the Keller-Roanoke-Northeast Fort Worth areas. A Washington D.C. native and University of North Texas graduate, Ian was previously an editor for papers in Oklahoma, West Texas and for Community Impact in New Braunfels.


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