Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker is seeking re-election. Voelker was first elected to the Place 5 seat on City Council in 2013. In 2015 he was re-elected to his council seat but then appointed mayor after former Mayor Laura Maczka stepped down. He was elected mayor in 2017.
Community Impact Newspaper sent Voelker a set of questions about his candidacy. His answers have been edited for publication style.
Why did you decide to run for this office?
Serving as the mayor of Richardson has been an honor and a wonderful experience. I would like to help assure continuity and provide a consistent and stable government that serves the needs of all constituents. I have seen some amazing progress in the past six years that I have been on council, and I still believe there is so much more that can be accomplished.
What experience—professionally or politically—do you have that would prepare you for this position?
I have over 30 years of experience here in the Telecom Corridor providing communications technology services and management consulting with a background in business strategy and planning, organizational and technology transformation and global workforce management.
I have served on the Texas Governor’s IT Cluster Committee under the Texas Workforce Commission, been an ex-officio board member of the Metroplex Technology Business Council (Tech Titans), chairman of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce, Richardson Zoning Board of Adjustments, and president of the Reserve at Sharp Lane Homeowners Association. My involvement in local education includes past board memberships on the Richardson ISD Tomorrow Foundation and the University of Texas at Dallas Jonsson School Industrial Advisory Board Executive Committee.
I serve as chairman of the City Council Audit Committee and have served for two years on the Executive Board for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. I am the immediate past president of the Metroplex Mayors Association.
What do you think is one of the biggest issues facing Richardson today, and how do you plan to address it if elected?
Richardson, like many cities in this country, is facing the challenge of developing a workable business model that delivers the service levels that all stakeholders want at a cost that can be supported through a broad base of revenue sources. Creating and maintaining these sources of revenue while containing costs and practicing financial discipline is the key. Growing our commercial tax base and increasing the flexibility, density and efficiency of both our business and residential properties is one good way to offset the increasing needs of aging infrastructure, congested transportation systems and ever-increasing pressures on our resources and environment while supplying the living environment necessary for the next generation workforce needed in our evolving economy. I will work every day to tell the story of Richardson to both current stakeholders and prospective investors in our business and residential markets. I will work to maintain our decision-making at the local level so we can determine what is best for our community.
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?
Attracting new and vibrant businesses that offer a strong tax base and high-paying jobs and contribute to the community in a variety of ways is becoming more and more the job of municipal government. As state and other government bodies back away from this role, it is more important than ever for us to have as many tools at our disposal to accomplish this mission. Economic incentives are intended to be catalytic in nature. These are the various tools that are at the city’s disposal—tax abatements/rebates, tax increment financing (TIF), cash grants, fee waivers, city-owned land donation, city participation in project and/or public infrastructure [and]parking usage agreements.
These tools can be used in combination or on their own. They should always be done only after a return on investment analysis has been performed and proper management processes have been established to properly monitor and control the desired outcomes. And, of course, transparency is mandatory. Richardson follows the state comptroller’s guidelines on disclosure of all agreements to the public, helping us maintain our five-star transparency rating with the state.
What else do you want voters to know about you?
Having moved here for a job after graduating from William Penn University in Iowa, my wife, Kris, and I continue to see Richardson as our home, a wonderful place to have raised our son, Ryan, and we both continue to be passionate supporters of Richardson’s success.