Candidate Q&A: Two candidates enter runoff for Richardson City Council Place 6

Get to know the candidates in the race for Richardson City Council Place 6. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Get to know the candidates in the race for Richardson City Council Place 6. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Get to know the candidates in the race for Richardson City Council Place 6. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

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Marilyn Frederick
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Arefin Shamsul
On June 5, Richardson voters can head to the polls to cast a ballot in a runoff election for City Council's Place 6 seat.

In the May 1 election, no candidate received at least 50% of the votes, so the candidates with the two highest vote totals will proceed to the runoff election. Early voting will be May 24-June 1.


Editor’s note: Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name.


RICHARDSON



City Council Place 6










Marilyn Frederick



Occupation: Realtor/broker


Contact: 972-978-9393;[email protected]




Why did you decide to run for Richardson City Council?



MF: Being a Realtor for more than 39 years, it is very clear: Richardson has just the right stuff when it comes to amenities, the arts, sports, cultural—something for everyone! A quality of life that is down to earth, refreshing and realistic. This city represents the real deal, the genuine article [and] what people are looking for in a community! I so appreciate the vision of past city leaders and the expertise and professionalism of city staff. As a Realtor in Richardson, I have come to the realization [that] I love selling Richardson and want to continue the tradition of the forward-thinking leadership as a council member.



How has your experience—personal or professional—prepared you for this role?



MF: In the 10 years that I served on the city planning commission, I have had the privilege of helping tailor significant development projects, including CityLine, the redevelopment of Main Street, the Collins/Arapaho Transit-Oriented Development, the Innovation Quarter (The IQ) and the West Spring Valley corridor. All of these while guiding them to fit our community’s character and spirit. Richardson, like many other communities I have studied, must continue to be open to adopting innovative solutions to redevelopment issues. Other civic activities include memberships in Richardson Citizen’s Police Academy, Class 42; Richardson Citizen’s Fire Academy, Class 22; Richardson CARES, Class 1; Richardson Chamber of Commerce since 1996; and Leadership Richardson, Class XVII. Prior to the city planning commission, it was exciting for me celebrate my three years as a parks commissioner with the opening of the new Huffhines Recreation Center. Our family spent many hours over the years there. The new facility was a dream come true. I have always sought to be active wherever I am. I worked in both the Canyon Creek and College Park neighborhoods and on numerous parent-teacher associations for the schools my children attended. These volunteer opportunities have taught me that many of the best ideas come from neighbors. As a council member, I will have a great deal of experience to guide my decisions, but I will never discount the input and expertise our residents have to offer. I welcome that input.



What are some of the biggest issues facing Richardson today, and how do you plan to address them if elected?



MF: Some of the biggest issues facing Richardson today will continue to be the budget, including continued funds for infrastructure, police and fire, and the 2021 bond priorities for the election this fall. I think the city staff and council have done an excellent job working with the challenges 2020 and COVID-19 have brought about. Communicating with our Legislature that SB2 put a hardship on our city should be a priority. They have got to understand that one size does not fit all—Richardson is not Frisco when it comes to revenue sources. I applauded what the council has done to insulate the situation. These smart, forward-thinking moves will help us keep our city services at the levels our citizens are accustomed to without any increase in taxes.



With the financial challenges imposed by COVID-19 and Senate Bill 2 in mind, what would be your approach to building the city's budget?



MF: Every level of government is facing difficult conditions caused by the pandemic and its damaging effect on our economy. As a council member, I will always aim to be a prudent steward of our community’s resources while seeking solutions that benefit the greatest number of our city’s residents.



What else should voters know about you?



MF:My real estate career has allowed me to observe and study the challenges facing other communities in our area and across the country. We have much to be grateful for, as many communities are dealing with issues resulting from neglected infrastructure. There is always room for improvement. Our city staff has prioritized continuing maintenance to ensure that we can rely on quality essential services for years to come.









Arefin Shamsul



Occupation: founder and CEO of Stream Water Group Inc.


Contact: 972-813-9010; [email protected]




Why did you decide to run for Richardson City Council?



AS: Being on City Council would provide me with an opportunity to serve our city and all our residents. I have already led in the community and am seeking additional means of serving our city. As you will read below, I have the qualifications and a solid track record of effective community involvement for many years. Richardson has much to be proud of: our arts, our neighborhoods, our schools. But, even a city as successful as ours cannot stop moving forward. Richardson has a strong, positive reputation because of awareness for the past, focus on maintaining the current quality of life, and intentional planning for the future. I know that by bringing all of us to the table, we will be successful in capitalizing on the many opportunities before us, with a strong foundation of ethics and transparency.



How has your experience—personal or professional—prepared you for this role?



AS: I have worked to give back to the community that has been so amazing for us all by serving on city boards and commissions, organizing food drives, participating in the Richardson Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Richardson, Richardson Citizen Police Academy and being a part of my neighborhood association. Richardson is a special place, and being involved is a critical part of the equation. Through these experiences, I have met countless neighbors and community members who share the same passion I have for our city. Additionally, I own and operate a civil engineering business specializing in municipal infrastructure. This experience provides a unique perspective on how high-quality infrastructure planning and maintenance affects cities nationwide. This gives me a unique voice to address issues with neighborhood streets, sidewalks, water, wastewater, drainage systems and budgetary matters.



What are some of the biggest issues facing Richardson today, and how do you plan to address them if elected?



AS: Richardson has a solid foundation in place, but I know we can take our city to the next level. First, we need to revisit our short-term and long-term plans and truly analyze the effects that COVID-19 and other economic forces will have now and in the near future. We cannot allow critical services to veer off course or fall into a cycle of delays. Second, we must take an inventory of the condition of our aging roads and other infrastructures. As a licensed engineer, I have the technical and leadership experience needed to help guide plans to improve and maintain our infrastructure instead of dealing with constant repairs. Third, we need to facilitate development of starter housing for new families who will be part of meeting the need for a strong, effective workforce. Fourth, we must address property taxes in an increasingly complex city financing environment, particularly as they impact our senior property owners. All of these are critical for our city’s future.



With the financial challenges imposed by COVID-19 and Senate Bill 2 in mind, what would be your approach to building the city's budget?



AS: Over the last two years, Richardson has faced three major strains upon our budget: the COVID-19 pandemic, Senate Bill 2 and the 2019 tornado. Collectively, these require vigilance in creating and managing our budget to ensure critical services—like first responders, public health and safety, and garbage collections—are fully maintained. I will look for ways to utilize economic incentives to attract new businesses and support existing businesses in the city, especially small businesses. We must continue to be both strategic and intentional in continuing business development, which is a critical component to expanding the commercial tax base that will help ensure the burden does not further impact property owners, while expanding revenue in a manner compliant with Senate Bill 2.



What else should voters know about you?



AS:I never see an obstacle as being too great to challenge. Nearly 29 years ago, I came to America as a student with no family with me and little money to pursue my master’s in civil engineering. In my first job, I earned $4.25 an hour, $2.70 of which allowed me to call my mother for one minute. It was one of the hardest challenges in my life. I learned to stay on a small budget while maintaining my focus on the opportunity of the American dream that could be achieved through hard work and good decisions. Now, I have proudly owned and operated my own engineering business, Stream Water Group, here in the DFW area for nearly two decades. As your councilman, I will work hard for you and look for the best decision for our city. I want to be your voice at City Hall.


By William C. Wadsack
William C. Wadsack is the senior reporter for the Plano and Richardson editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as managing editor of several daily and weekly publications in North Texas and his native state of Louisiana before joining Community Impact Newspaper in 2019.
By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.


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