Community Impact Newspaper sent Barrios a set of questions about his candidacy. His answers have been edited for publication style.
Why did you decide to run for this office?
There are a variety of reasons why I decided to run for Richardson City Council Place 3. Most importantly, I’m running to serve our community. Last mayoral election, about 5 percent of our city showed up to vote. I don’t believe it’s because people don’t care; it’s because voters don’t feel like they have options. The decisions made by our City Council affect us every single day, yet it's [City Council elections garner] one of the smallest levels of participation at the voting booth. As a lifelong community servant, I hope to offer a fresh perspective—one without an agenda or financial ties to developers or the real estate market. I will be a truly independent voice ready to serve our city.
What experience—professionally or politically—do you have that would prepare you for this position?
Professionally my background is in business development within the food industry. My career has taught me to listen, negotiate fairly and build businesses through tough economic times. The most important lesson I’ve learned is how to strategically build lasting relationships with every stakeholder.
I have served a diverse set and a large number of community organizations and nonprofits. Locally I'm extremely active with the Arapaho Classical Magnet PTA [Parent-Teacher Association], and have coached at and served on the YMCA board. I am a longtime volunteer with the American Red Cross, where I’ve helped lead international projects. I am a proud graduate of Richardson CARES [Citizens Academy & Resource Education Series] and a member of InsideRISD. As a church volunteer I’ve also helped run programs to serve the homeless and have made dozens of trips to help build medical clinics in Mexico, an area where being bilingual is a major asset.
From managing a shelter after the 2015 Rowlett tornado to helping with school carnivals, these experiences have taught me that the best way to help strengthen our community is by serving it.
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?
One issue I keep hearing about from residents is our aging infrastructure, like potholes and broken water lines. Our city has made it a priority, and I know city staff is working incredibly hard to keep things working properly. I’d like to see our city continue to increase the prioritization of our infrastructure, without increasing the homeowners’ tax burden. Another issue I’m hearing about from Richardson residents is their desire for a diversified retail and restaurant environment. People are concerned about empty buildings. People are concerned about Sears closing, and what will be done to revitalize the often-overlooked southeast Richardson. People are concerned about the plans for the widening of Belt Line [Road], and what’s going to happen to the historic buildings that help define Richardson as a city.
For me this isn't a single issue that we face but an overarching theme: How will we plan and revitalize a city that reflects our citizens and provides the standard of living we desire while creating an economically strong city?
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?
Cities commonly use tax incentives as a tool to attract new businesses, and I completely support their strategic use. Like anything, it’s about balance. Too little and other cities beat us and win companies over. Too much and the tax burden transfers to homeowners. We must use these tax incentives strategically and intelligently to bolster our economic growth.
I think it’s worth reevaluating what we are doing to attract local businesses. We have restaurant and retail owners who live in our city and have chosen to open their businesses in other cities. It’s not because they don’t want to open in Richardson; it’s because it doesn’t make financial sense. Let’s find a way to keep those revenue dollars right here in Richardson. I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers, but know that together we can bring city staff, residents and business owners together to find the best plan for everyone.
What else do you want voters to know about you?
I will always walk into City Hall humble. I will always listen and consider all aspects of a decision with an open mind. For me public service means truly serving the public. It means serving you.