Derek Baker is running for the at large seat in the upcoming McKinney City Council election. Baker is running against Charlie Philips, Kevin M. Smallwood, Thomas "TJ" Reilly and Michael Jones. Current at large representative Randy Pogue has decided to not to seek re-election to the seat and instead will run for the mayor's seat. Early voting begins April 24, and election day is May 6.
Why are you running for McKinney City Council?
Our city is [experiencing] explosive growth, and with that population growth and city expansion comes additional responsibilities and expenditures to ensure we continue to provide excellent services to our citizens. I believe we owe it to the taxpayers to grow in a responsible manner, which means appropriately funding core government functions and priorities while not taxing people out of their homes. I'm concerned by the significant growth of our city budget over the past several years, and [I] want [to] bring fiscal discipline to the budget process and tie any future budget growth to population or inflation rather than simply adopt windfall revenue increases into our budget due to increased appraisal values.
What issues do you feel the city will face within the next few years?
- Commercial tax bases
If elected, how would you address those issues?
It is critical to increase [our] commercial tax base relative to our resident tax base. This has been an ongoing challenge, and we must be willing consider new methods to attract commercial enterprises given our poor track record in the past. I also wish to focus on a detailed review of our current recruitment strategies, zoning restrictions, and city permitting processes to ensure we are well-positioned to grow our commercial tax base and attract new business to McKinney, making it clear McKinney is business- and consumer-friendly.
We must act swiftly to expand and/or update our current roadways to plan ahead for current and anticipated population growth and traffic. Taking no action is a failure to lead, so me must methodically review all our transportation options and map out roadway expansion that best positions us for the future with the least amount of negative impact to property owners.
What qualifications do you possess that make you a prime candidate for the position?
I have over 25 years of public policy experience. I served as senior staff to [former] U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, [R-Texas,] in his Washington, D.C., office for 10 years and went on to serve then-Congressman Mike Pence and [U.S. Rep.] Jeb Hensarling, [R-Dallas]. I have been a Republican activist for over two decades and assisted dozens of candidates and campaigns as well.
On a local level, I am extremely involved in our community. I am a member of the Collin County Child Protective Services board, appointed by then-Commissioner Matt Shaheen and recently reappointed by Judge Keith Self. I was elected by my fellow board members to serve as treasurer and vice president of the CPS board and now serve as assistant treasurer. I am also on the board of a related nonprofit that serves local foster children and their families called Foster Friends. I am a volunteer and supporter for Hope Women’s Center in McKinney, who [provides] ultrasound, screening and counseling services for pregnant women in need. I am also the elected Republican precinct [chairman] for Precinct 131 in McKinney, and I have served as a delegate to the Republican State Convention in 2012 and 2016.
As a real estate agent and private business owner in the real estate industry, I see firsthand the impact that taxes and regulations play on commerce in the various cities. McKinney is a great place to live, but we must be strategic and fiscally responsible in how we manage our resources going forward.