Rick Grady, Maria Tu win Plano City Council elections as two other races head to runoff

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Two allies of the Plano mayor won seats on the City Council in the May 4 elections, while two others that the mayor endorsed will head to runoffs against candidates endorsed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Council Member Rick Grady defeated challenger Colleen Aguilar-Epstein on his way to re-election. Attorney Maria Tu won with more than half the vote in a three-person race. Both winning candidates were endorsed by Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere.

But even though election day is over, voters aren’t done shaping the direction of the Plano City Council.

Sitting Council Member Ron Kelley will face challenger Shelby Williams in a runoff race in June after leading the field in May 4 voting but falling short of the number of votes needed to win outright. The incumbent council member is endorsed by LaRosiliere, while Williams is supported by Abbott.

Meanwhile, former Plano mayoral candidate Lily Bao, who was also endorsed by the governor, will face LaRosiliere’s preferred candidate Ann Bacchus in a June runoff. Bao received 47% of the vote to Bacchus’ 36%.

The results of Saturday’s election ensure the Plano council’s preferences on development and budget issues remain in the air through the June runoffs.

Tu and Grady will join LaRosiliere and Council Member Kayci Prince as the group that generally supports the city’s longstanding development direction. If Williams and Bao are to win their respective runoff races, they would likely join Council Members Anthony Ricciardelli and Rick Smith as vocal skeptics of dense apartment development.

A four-four split on the eight-member council would be enough to deny zoning changes for apartments and affect decisions on the city’s tax rate and other budget issues.

Bao and Williams, the recipients of a rare endorsement for local office by Texas’ Republican governor, have campaigned on limiting property tax growth in Plano.

LaRosiliere played an active role in this year’s elections, endorsing a slate of candidates in each race and contributing thousands of dollars from his campaign to candidates and political action committees.

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  1. What few people realize is the new Plano Tomorrow Plan allows the city to tear down shopping centers at all of those older intersections and put in apartments. Every major intersection. Do you live near 15th and Custer? You will have 4-story apartments that go right up to the sidewalk soon enough. Every major intersection will get hundreds, if not over 1,000, units. Add all those intersections up and you are talking about tens of thousands of new cars coming/going during rush hour.

    The traffic will be worse than Preston @ Belt Line Road and Arapaho in North Dallas because those apartments are 2-story.

    Look at the Plano Tomorrow PDF map. Look at the orange zones at those intersections that are labeled “NC”.

    So add that to the fact that they want to put around 5,000 units right off Parkwood between Spring Creek and Windhaven, a few thousand units near Ohio and 121, etc. We are talking about a huge increase in our density.

    Plano’s density is already higher than Austin, Dallas, Houston, Arlington, Fort Worth, Irving.

    It’s going to be a nightmare here if Harry gets his way.

  2. So seriously, we’d rather have decaying and declining retail centers that no one uses, filled with weeds than to move into a future with vibrant sections of commerce and business plus affordable homes for our children and seniors to live?

    If the rush hour traffic bothers you so much, drive in the off hours. Or, gasp, use public transportation.

    I’d rather have more businesses and homes, yes, even apartment dwellers pay property taxes, to pay property taxes than empty and scary shopping centers on significant intersections in Plano.

    The plus for single-family homeowners in Plano is that our property values are going up thanks to the ideas and follow-through of our elected leaders (in the past at least) so no matter how low the city tries to lower the tax rate what we pay is still going up. You cannot have it both ways: declining property tax and increasing property value. It’s basic math.

    • So a few things:

      1. Which intersections are decaying? You argue that property taxes up, yet all these intersections are decaying and empty. Which one is it?
      2. If a shopping center is empty, replace it with new retail that attracts shoppers. Which ones are empty?
      3. I never said no apartments. I’m for the density plan we had for decades. 2-story complexes with some green space.
      4. Our property taxes are up because of a shortage of single family homes. We have the shortest supply in history. Instead of building 5,000 4-story apartment units off Parkwood, they should build single family homes.
      5. You cap the property tax increase to inflation.
      6. Even though we pay DART around $85 million a year, we have the worst public transportation system. I have to walk 3.1 miles to the closest bus stop. The new GoLink won’t even take me to Legacy West. They won’t go to different zones and I’m in the central zone. What’s worse, even if I wanted to take the central zone GoLink to the west zone and then transfer, I’d have to walk from Ohio to Preston because they made the west and central zones separated by a mile. It’s like they really don’t want you to use it.

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Daniel Houston
Daniel Houston covers Plano city government, transportation, business and education for Community Impact Newspaper. A Fort Worth native and Baylor University graduate, Daniel reported previously for The Dallas Morning News and The Associated Press in Oklahoma City.
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