Mauri Long is seeking election to the Richardson City Council Place 5 seat, which will be vacated by current Council Member Marta Gomez Frey. If successful, this will be the first time Long has held elective office.
Community Impact Newspaper sent Long a set of questions about her candidacy. Her answers have been edited for publication style.
Why did you decide to run for this office?
I moved to Richardson after extensive research on the best community for my family, and Richardson met all the criteria. I believe that my dedication to our city and desire to create a positive environment for all our citizens will guide me in representing Richardson and especially those that have not had a voice on the council.
What experience—professionally or politically—do you have that would prepare you for this position?
I have lived in Richardson for 17 years. I have been a small business owner right here in our city. I have always been active in my children’s schools and the PTA [Parent Teacher Association]. As a civic lobbyist in Washington, Austin and DFW for the Brady Campaign, I learned first-hand how things get done, and the bureaucracy that controls government. As a crime watch chairperson for one of the largest areas in Dallas, I worked closely with the DPD [Dallas Police Department] to garner grant funds to start the first child molestation unit in the country. Under my leadership we also established the Volunteers in Patrol. My faith and moral guidance directs me to be part of the solution and not the problem.
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?
Affordable housing for residents and the UTD [University of Texas at Dallas] students need to be addressed head-on. Over two-thirds of residents in our community earn less than $100,000 annually. The average house in Richardson now costs $300,000 and is only going up. That trajectory is not sustainable, and we have seen this issue in other municipalities at the exclusion of the diversity that makes Richardson so appealing.
Infrastructure is a consistent issue. We are an aging city that needs investment to continue to grow to our potential. I believe that a large-scale study would give the council the tools to design and make those needed changes.
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?
Richardson has benefited greatly by all the economic development in the corporate sector. I agree that incentives need to be used, but I believe they need to be balanced with actively developing a small-business environment. We have so much real estate that is vacant, and the feedback is that the red tape and retail space cost has created many hurdles for small-business owners. We have empty strip centers, a deserted mall and empty office space that could be filled with small businesses built by our neighbors and patronized by our neighbors. The result is keeping the revenue right here in our city. I would like for a partnership to be established with property owners, and the small-business community to find solutions for all parties. I want residents to start their businesses right here in Richardson and not feel that there are other areas that are more viable and affordable.
What else do you want voters to know about you?
I am an independent voice, and those that know me see me as a champion for those that have not had their voice represented. I believe all have value and should be treated as such. The diversity of our community is one of our greatest assets, and my plans are to build on that strength.