Election Q&A: Candidates for Plano City Council Place 8

Learn more about the candidates running for Plano City Council Place 8 ahead of the May 1 election. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Learn more about the candidates running for Plano City Council Place 8 ahead of the May 1 election. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)

Learn more about the candidates running for Plano City Council Place 8 ahead of the May 1 election. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)

Learn more about the candidates running for Plano City Council Place 8 ahead of the May 1 election.

Editor’s note: An asterisk (*) indicates the candidate is an incumbent. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name.


DALLAS-FORT WORTH



Plano City Council Place 8










Elisa Klein



Occupation: small-business owner; cofounder and chief operating officer, MKC Create








Why are you running for Plano City Council?



EK: COVID-19 changed our lives forever. As a small-business owner and parent of school-age children, I experienced these hardships firsthand. During the first phase of the pandemic, I paid close attention to our local government, and I was horrified. I’ve always trusted our city leaders to make the right decisions for the betterment and health of our community, but when I saw certain city officials waffle with the lives of the people they were elected to serve, it ignited something within me to act. Sometimes, the extraordinary person is the ordinary person who is willing to take a chance.



What are your qualifications for seeking this office?



EK: I have the unique blend of government and private sector experience which has prepared me to take on the role of councilperson.

I have a Master’s in Public Affairs and Administration from Texas Tech with a concentration on local government and understand the operations of running municipalities from working with city councils firsthand. I understand the inner workings of how the city departments work and the importance of the relationship between the administrative staff and council. Furthermore, I worked at the State Capitol in Austin during the 79th Legislature, where I had the privilege of participating in the legislative process directly.

My work in the private sector includes expertise in finance, contract negotiation, project management, customer relations and information technology, which are all applicable in making informed decisions for the city. I’ve worked in fast-paced environments that require quick decision-making and expert negotiation skills. I’m known for being able to break down complex issues and find actionable change. I strive for a consensus but embrace compromise when making progress.

Lastly, I love serving my community and have taken on leadership roles in volunteer organizations. Most notably, I served as parent-teacher association president for my children’s elementary school. I’ve been educated here in North Texas, but I was born in El Salvador, where high-quality education is not obtainable by attending public schools. Here, in America, I was able to attend Plano public schools, and it changed my life and set me on a trajectory for success. Public education is the most important gift we can give every child. This is why I have advocated for public education with PTA for the past two legislative sessions.



If elected, what would be your top priorities?



EK: Here’s a list of my priorities, and you can find more details on my website at www.elisaforplano.com. In all of these areas, I want to make sure the tax dollars are spent wisely and thoughtfully while also considering the direct impacts to our community.


  • Responsible COVID-19 relief and recovery

  • Responsive community health and safety

  • Connecting our community

  • Financial responsibility

  • Preserving the Plano lifestyle





As Plano continues to grow and age, what do you see as the city’s top transportation and infrastructure-related concerns? How do you plan to address them?



EK: Plano has an abundance of public amenities our residents benefit from. As our infrastructure ages, we must make upgrades that account for accessibility and ADA compliance. The pandemic has reintroduced us to the city’s great amenities, and we are looking at updates through a different lens. Our city recreational programs offer a way for our community to stay healthy and engaged in a safe and economically friendly way.



What do you see as the city's top issues related to housing and commercial real estate development? How do you plan to address them?



EK: Plano is a highly desirable city coupled with limited undeveloped land. We need affordable housing for our young professionals and recent graduates. As the pandemic revealed, we need pedestrian-oriented communities for our seniors. We also need single-family homes for families with children. We need to be welcoming to all stages of life and provide housing options accordingly and not simply apply a one-size-fits-all solution. Additionally, as a business owner, I support strategic partnerships with developers that align with Plano’s vision.


What else do you want voters to know about you?



EK: That despite some hardships we are encountering, Plano continues to be a city that values all members of the community, and I will plan for a stronger and brighter future. We must place individuals in office who care about the city and listen to its people over partisan politics. I promise to do both, and that is why I am asking you to vote for me on May 1.










Rick Smith*



Occupation: president, AHTS Inc.








Why are you running for Plano City Council?



RS: As your current council member for Place 8, I want to continue to serve and lead Plano through the next four years. We will be dealing with critical issues, such as replacing our 1986 Comprehensive Plan with a new one to determine future development and redevelopment activity. When I first ran, I thought I knew how to govern effectively, but it takes time to absorb how the various departments work together to deliver city services. Experience is going to be critical to ensure success—I have the knowledge and experience to govern without a learning curve.



What are your qualifications for seeking this office?



RS: Experience matters.

Governmental: I have served on council for four years, including a one-year term as your mayor pro tem.

Business: I have owned and operated a business in Plano for the past 25 years. Before founding a local business, I served for over a decade as vice president and, later, senior vice president for a national health care company.

I have significant local roots and national business experience. I say what I mean and do what I say. I will always do what’s best for this city.



If elected, what would be your top priorities?



RS:



  • Maintain our police and fire-rescue at levels to continue providing safety and security for our residents

  • Infrastructure maintenance/replacement: many of our roads are at least 30 years old

  • Retention and expansion of our commercial enterprises, whose employment and tax contributions allow us to keep our residential property taxes as low as possible




As Plano continues to grow and age, what do you see as the city’s top transportation and infrastructure-related concerns? How do you plan to address them?



RS: Retiming and real-time management of our traffic signals to maintain efficient commutes, innovation for last-mile transportation and improving/replacing aging streets. We approved a $231 million bond package to be placed on the May 1 ballot. It’s now up to the voters to decide if this is one of their priorities—they are the boss.



What do you see as the city's top issues related to housing and commercial real estate development? How do you plan to address them?




RS: Approve and implement a new comprehensive plan developed thru resident and city cooperation. A new plan will be critical to determine future growth for the city. We also need more innovative ways to provide new housing for our seniors. This segment is continuing to expand, with fewer opportunities currently available to downsize, which results in lower inventory for first-time homebuyers. Continuing to support existing business and attract new ones will also be a top priority.


What else do you want voters to know about you?



RS: I have lived in Plano for 34 years and truly want to see our city remain the envy of others—we are the City of Excellence. During my first term, we implemented the first effective tax rate in 24 years, resulting in actual property tax savings for homeowners. I led the way on smart growth, thereby protecting our neighborhoods from excessive high-density development. I fought to keep restrictive regulations from impacting our small-business owners. I cosponsored an ordinance ensuring that campaign contributions would not be used to influence council decisions. These accomplishments and more have been done on my watch and will continue when I am re-elected.




By Liesbeth Powers
Liesbeth graduated from Baylor University with a degree in new media journalism in December 2018. She gained her newspaper experience as a staff writer and multimedia editor at her campus paper, The Baylor Lariat. Liesbeth joined the Community Impact team in August 2019, where she reports on all things Plano and Richardson, including Plano City Council and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.


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