Scott Elliott is running for the District 3 seat in the upcoming McKinney City Council election. Elliott is running against Gavin Nicholson, Sheila Johnson, Margaret Harsch and Jeremiah Hammer. Current District 3 representative Travis Ussery has reached his term limit for the position. Early voting begins April 24, and election day is May 6.
Currently I have two business roles: First, I am a minority investor and account executive for Financial Gravity. Second, I am [chief operating officer] of Alagar Inc. Alagar is a niche big data consulting firm offering services including descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics.
Why are you running for McKinney City Council?
The influence of my father plays a big part. He was a naval officer, and he modeled both leadership and volunteer service throughout his career and beyond. Our city has also provided everything important to us as a family: a place to exercise our faith, deep friendships, a safe city, recreation and opportunities to serve others. It is only natural to want to give back when we have been provided so much. Finally, my desire to run for City Council is fueled by my respect for the people who are serving and have served on City Council in the city of McKinney and in volunteer roles that have shaped our city to this point. My desire would be to meaningfully contribute to decisions that will impact McKinney for the next 30 years.
What issues do you feel the city will face within the next few years?
First, infrastructure needs as a result of the growth we are experiencing. I am referencing both physical infrastructure and the people infrastructure to make McKinney what it needs to be. This includes roads, relieving traffic congestion, water/sewer, utilities, downtown parking and public transportation. The challenges on the people side of the equation include adequate fire and police staffing, sufficient staffing to provide city services, employee retention and recruiting, and ensuring pension obligations are met.
Second, changing the ratio of commercial-to-residential ad valorem tax value. We are approximately 80 percent residential and 20 percent commercial. A stretch goal would be to change this ratio to 60/40, but a more viable shorter-term goal would be to get to 70/30.
Collaboration between the different entities in the city and county would be the third challenge. It is difficult to have a strong working relationship between the city and the county when there are two lawsuits between the two entities. Due to contention surrounding the latest [McKinney ISD] bond referendum, the city and school district are not cooperating at the level of our surrounding sister cities.
If elected, how would you address those issues?
- [Complete] the McKinney2040 plan and the Master Transportation Plan.
- Accelerate development of the outer loop, accelerate development of the three main northern arterials (Wilmeth, Bloomdale and Laud Howell) and explore alternatives for increasing [US] 380 capacity other than right of way expansion to 300 feet.
- Build a parking garage (or two) for downtown, sooner than later, using either [tax increment reinvestment zone] or [McKinney Community Development Corp.] funds.
- From an employee perspective:
- Manage the level of pay/benefits compared to our peer cities.
- Provide a welcoming environment for recruiting experienced city and public safety personnel by recognizing previous experience.
- Provide for continuing leadership education and mentoring for the people we trust to lead our city and public safety personnel.
- Provide learning and growth opportunities for all employees.
- Ensure that we honor the pension commitments we have made so our people have a secure financial future.
For development and increasing our commercial tax base:
- Set specific goals for the [McKinney Economic Development Corp.] for both new commercial ad valorem tax value increases and increasing the number of new jobs in the city.
- Do not relinquish current commercial zoning for other uses.
- Accelerate the development of the Gateway project. Maintain continuing and results-oriented discussions with our developers of choice to ensure this project reaches the finish line.
- Streamline the city inspection process in order to shorten the time involved in bringing a commercial project to completion.
- Settle the two lawsuits between the city and the county in a manner less expensive than going to trial.
- Address both main vectors for commercial development: Be prepared with complete and vetted data regarding our city and relocation opportunities/sites in McKinney in cooperation with our business community, and continue marketing efforts to individual companies, retail and trade associations, and relocation consulting firms.
- Prepare a joint marketing plan with the city/MEDC, MISD, Collin College, Collin County and our chamber of commerce to present a united front when seeking and responding to corporate relocation opportunities.
- Re-examine opportunities for cross-use of city and MISD facilities in light of current construction.
What qualifications do you possess that make you a prime candidate for the position?
Generally, I believe City Council elections are a referendum on three qualities: leadership, collaboration and experience. Career-wise, I have been fortunate to lead [information technology] and other organizations of various sizes for 25 years. The industries I have served are diverse, including health care, software, consulting, oil and gas exploration, and insurance. I have led organizations of over 600 people and had responsibility for budgets in excess of $50 million. My experiences in turning around poor-performing organizations as we worked together to increase both effectiveness and morale have been the most rewarding roles in my career. The skills that have been useful to me in these work settings include strong interpersonal skills, strong analytical skills, communication ability and perhaps most importantly an ability to work well with others.
From a volunteer perspective, I have past experience with United Way employer campaigns, served as a board member for the Center for Children and Families and other charities, and served as board member and treasurer for the DFW Society for Information Management chapter. As a part of the McKinney community, I am a 2012 graduate of Leadership McKinney; I served four years as a board member of the McKinney Community Development Corp. (last two years as chair); and I co-teach a married adults class at Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church. Leading volunteers and volunteer organizations has developed my leadership and collaboration skills, and 20 years of teaching experience and other public speaking roles have been invaluable in improving my communication skills.