Ann Bacchus, an attorney specializing in family law, has announced her candidacy for the Place 2 seat on the Plano City Council.
Plano voters will also consider candidates for places 4, 6 and 8 when they head to the polls on May 6.
Before the election, Community Impact Newspaper sent Bacchus a series of questions on her candidacy. Her written responses, edited for publication style, are below.
Why are you running for City Council Place 2?
Plano is the destination for excellence. While our city provides our families with the infrastructure and services they require to be successful, what makes our home the city of excellence are our citizens.
I want to engage and bring a wider range of perspectives of our community to sustain the high quality of life in our city. I am one of the many Plano residents who migrated here. I am also one of the many Plano residents born in another country that has made Plano home. In my 18 years here, I have seen Plano change dramatically. Before Plano became an international destination, a small group of civic leaders did well in making Plano a city of excellence. I am proud that while the city has grown up, it has remained unchanged to the core. Every day I have lived here, I have been thankful for the opportunities this city has surrounded my family with. I cheered as I watched my children play tennis at High Point Park Tennis Center, and I cherished the memories of them growing up as I watched them chase their dreams as they walked across the stage during their high school graduation. While I was not born here, my heart is here.
To sustain this high standard of living and make our city even better, we need representation from and the involvement of our larger community.
Why are you qualified for this position?
Our city is changing. While familiar landmarks dot our landscape, new buildings, families, and opportunities are arriving daily. To not only meet but exceed the expectations of our entire community, we must align our goals to the needs of our families.
I share the perspective of a large majority of our community who emigrated from an outside country. I was born in Guyana and lived in Canada and California before arriving here with my husband in 1998. As a long-term resident of Plano, I have seen the fountain of opportunity this city has offered my family. However, I have also seen the changes brought by the shift in our cities’ demographics.
As an active mother and family law attorney, I have been thoroughly engaged with our local community. My personal and work experiences add to the diversity of culture, occupation, thinking and perspective of the City Council. As an attorney at Legal Aid of Northwest Texas and later as an attorney in private practice, I have led initiatives benefiting the lives of many within the Genesis Women’s Shelter, the Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House and others.
Through these experiences, I have had the opportunity to interact with people of various backgrounds, bridge the divide between conflicting parties and engage and understand diverse points of views while working towards common goals. I have learned through these experiences how to identify the needs and use the full potential of every individual involved in the process. In collaboration with my city colleagues, I will successfully formulate change to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our families across our community.
What is your platform?
Civic engagement—In the past two decades, Plano has not only grown dramatically, but its demographics have been changing, bringing Plano a rich diversity of talent and promise that is making a wonderful city even stronger, more exciting and full of promise. These hard-working newcomers have already put down roots, but we’ve not yet seen that diversity fully reflected in our civic engagement, or on our City Council. Without that engagement, we are leaving far too much talent and civic energy on the sidelines, and that’s something I hope to be able to help change. Plano is great; by embracing and energizing the talents of all of our citizens, we can make it even better.
Advocating for all of Plano—Plano must continue to be a welcoming and inclusive community for all. To maintain our high standard of living and competitive edge as a world-class city, we need to understand and support each other in a manner in which everyone feels included. Every resident is important and every resident’s opinion matters. I see opportunities to improve community engagement, involvement and empowerment. Expert planning, processes efficiently implemented by committed and professional staff are essential, but city government needs to really listen to community care-abouts, and recognize and respect the time and effort it takes to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.
Excellent quality of life for all—My experience as a family-law attorney for more than 15 years is an important and unique part of what I have to offer on the City Council. I am committed to supporting and strengthening the strong sense of community and an excellent quality of life for all of Plano’s residents. I will work on engaging our entire community and promote an atmosphere in which all our residents feel valued, respected and have the same opportunities as others. I will work toward ensuring city facilities and services continue to be readily available to all our residents, and that all are made welcome. I will work to overcome any economic, geographic, cultural or other barriers that may limit access to some, and will make sure that neighborhood residents get as much respect and deference as do investors, developers and other professionals who regularly engage with city government.
Plano Tomorrow—I recognize that Plano Tomorrow is the currently approved plan, but also recognize that there are many citizens who feel that their concerns have not been fully heard, or adequately addressed. While there are many thoughtful elements of the recently adopted plan that can serve us well, I am open to listening, reexamining and amending portions of the plan as well as exploring new ideas that may help address that concern many of our citizens.
Housing—Are we providing for seniors who may want to downsize and stay in our community? Are we meeting the present needs of our current residents? Together we must continue to address the opportunities and challenges of our growing community without jeopardizing the high standard of life that we have all become accustomed to.
Mobility—One of the biggest challenges facing Plano is the future maintenance and upkeep of the city’s roadway system due to increasing traffic and insufficient land for easy expansion. In addition to enhancing our roadways, have we optimized and integrated public transit options? The solution must continue to reflect the community voice and keep Plano as the strong leader in transportation that promotes safety, efficiency and an outstanding quality of life for the entire community.
Water—Over the past 15 years, Plano’s residents and businesses have paid approximately $78 million for water we did not use. This is due to the “take or pay” system that is based on our greatest single year of use, which was about 26 billion gallons in 2001. The method for calculating the rate based on the highest annual usage is outdated and is not in our community’s interest. It encourages water usage, does not consider recent water consumption numbers and is inconsistent with conservation. I support the Public Utility Commission conducting a review of our water rates with the North Texas Municipal Water District.