Mark Solomon is seeking re-election to the Richardson City Council Place 2 seat. Solomon was first elected to City Council in 2009.
Community Impact Newspaper sent Solomon a set of questions about his candidacy. His answers have been edited for publication style.
Why did you decide to run for this office?
I have had the honor of serving the residents of Richardson on the council from Place 2 since 2009. Prior to that, I served as a member of the parks and recreation commission for six years, resigning only to run for council. Public service has always been a tenet that is emphasized in our family and one that I hope my service to the community will demonstrate to my family as a worthy calling.
What experience—professionally or politically—do you have that would prepare you for this position?
Professionally I have owned and operated Assurnet Insurance Agency as an independent property and casualty insurance agency since 1986. We currently have six full-time employees plus my wife, Lynn, and myself. Politically my service on the parks and recreation commission and my service in the Richardson Kiwanis Club, Richardson Chamber of Commerce, Professional Insurance Agents Association, Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association Agent Review Committee and the Texas Fair Plan Association Governing Board are all part of my experience based in public service as an involved community member.
What do you think is one of the biggest issues facing Richardson today, and how do you plan to address it if elected to City Council?
I do not see one specific issue facing the city; there are several that I believe are equally important. The first is one that council does not have control over, and that is the uncertainty about local control of our finances and ability to provide local governance to Richardson. There are those in the state Legislature that believe local government is the root of all problems and need to be limited in their ability to govern. I do not agree with this position. I firmly believe our Richardson residents are well-informed and are pleased with the local governance our council has and continues to provide to the community. Hopefully this will not come to pass, but should it happen then some very difficult decisions will have to be addressed by future councils. Secondly, the maintenance and ongoing need to improve upon our infrastructure is one of the basic missions of city government. I am very proud of the plan that we have put in place and have been steadily working [on]and improving for many years. This plan is a multiyear impact to the community. This plan provides for a systematic approach to maintaining and improving, where necessary, our streets, alleyways, sidewalks, parks and city facilities. This is a big part of our budgeting process each year, and continuing to make progress is a key goal I have going forward. Third is our need to renew and repurpose. By this I mean that we need to continue to focus our attention to all areas of the city to see what can be done to make sure we do not become outdated due to inadequate planning. We need continue the work we are doing in the Main Street area and in the East Arapaho [Innovation District] areas. Then we also need to begin to address the retail areas along Coit [Road]. Planning is an ongoing issue, and if you do not plan, you have a serious issue.
The city in the past has used economic incentives and tax grants to attract companies. What means, if any, would you support the city using to attract companies in the future?
Currently the city has several options in its toolbox for use in retaining and attracting new business to the area. Businesses locate in a community for a variety of reasons, the least of which is location, location and location. Richardson is fortunate—again the result of long-range planning—to have four and soon to be five major transportation arteries to serve our community: US 75, LBJ [I-635], [Hwy.] 190 and DART’s Red Line and soon the Cotton Belt—and not to be forgotten, DART’s bus service. This alone is a big plus for us when talking with clients. You can get to almost anywhere easily from Richardson. The other positive we have is education. Richardson is served by two of the best ISDs in the state if not the nation: [Plano] ISD and [Richardson] ISD. Plus we have UTD [University of Texas at Dallas] within the city and Richland College on our southern border. All are key when employers are looking for talent. So tax incentives are only one part of our economic strategy.
Our use of tax abatements or grants is very limited, very strategic and only used in what we call a game-share proposition. That is, where the use of these will result in both the city and the corporate entity both sharing in the end result. We compete on a local, regional, state, national and international level today. So it is essential that we use all avenues available to us to continue to work our plan of a city having a strong residential and business environment going forward.
What else do you want voters to know about you?
I’m not sure after 10 years of service to the community, many newsletters, Facebook posts, cupcake parties, et cetera. Lynn tells me that there is not much left to know. I do, obviously, enjoy our family times. Our children and grandchildren are essential parts of my life. My free time is spent with my stamp collection, gardening and travel. However, at this time of year it might be appropriate to say that we are still members, although not active as we once were, of the Krewe of Argus. Argus is the lead parade in Metairie, Louisiana, on Mardi Gras Day.