Candidate Q&A: Maria Tu runs for Place 1 seat on Plano City Council

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Maria Tu is running for Plano City Council, Place 1. She is running against candidates Bill Lisle III and Daniel Long.

Community Impact Newspaper sent Tu a list of questions about her candidacy. This article is part of ongoing May 4 election coverage and does not constitute an endorsement of the candidate. Her responses below have been edited for publication style.

Why are you running for a Plano City Council seat?

Everything I have, I have because of Plano. When my husband and I arrived here 25 years ago, we had no money in our pockets. We started a successful business here, selling sushi to local grocery stores, and later I opened my law practice here. My daughter was born here and attended Plano schools.

Now I want to give back. I feel we are at a turning point now. It’s my turn to step up and do my part to keep Plano on its path as the City of Excellence.

What are your qualifications for seeking this office?

I have always worked hard my entire life. From the day I arrived in America, I worked outside of the home. At age 16, I worked five jobs at once in order to pay for college. I delivered newspapers at 4 a.m., then worked the morning shift at Arby’s, the afternoon shift at Burger King, the evening shift at Hefty (another burger joint) and finished the night at Denny’s before starting all over again. I will bring the same work ethic to Plano City Council.

As a prosecutor for the Collin County DA’s office, I successfully prosecuted criminals and helped make our community safe. Today, I own my own law practice—serving the indigent, mentally ill and those who do not speak English.  These skills I have accumulated through the years will guide me to better protect my community.

If elected, what would your top priorities be?

  • Enhance public safety and reduce crime—Under the leadership of Plano Police Chief Greg Rushin, Plano is currently ranked the third-safest city in America. Our crime rates continue to drop. But we must always remember that one crime that harms our children and our neighbors is one crime too many. Our children and our elders should never become statistics. We need to continue to enhance our safety measures; create coalitions amongst neighborhoods, police, fire and emergency personnel; and make sure that Plano is the safest city and the shining example of America.
  • Protect quality of life—Protecting our quality of life in Plano means protecting our neighborhoods. We need to be vigilant in developing strong bonds with our neighbors through neighborhood watch, by supporting our HOA, and by keeping informed on issues and concerns that can negatively affect our community.
  • Reduce traffic congestion—We need solutions to reduce the number of cars on the road by working to develop sound and intelligent transportation solutions, including our partnership with DART. Additionally, we also need to work to improve our city infrastructure (especially the outdated roads in the older parts of town) and get Plano moving again.
  • Keep property taxes low—I’m well aware of how high property taxes harm families. In Plano, we’re fortunate to have one of the lowest tax rates in the Dallas area. Additionally, in the past few years, Plano City Council has consistently voted to lower its city portion of the revenue from property tax while still maintaining a City of Excellence. We need to continue to explore ways to keep our taxes as low as feasible, and yet, ensuring that our pennies are used to guarantee the quality of services we have come to expect, including safe and clean parks, updated recreation centers, and advanced educational material for our libraries.

 

If elected, would you generally support or oppose rezoning requests that include multifamily residential options, such as apartments? 

I’m not in favor of building apartments in single-family neighborhoods. That said, every proposed rezoning request needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis and then decided in terms of what’s best for Plano. Keep in mind that multifamily doesn’t necessarily mean just apartments; multifamily zoning also allows for mixed-use, townhomes and other housing options.

These are great for young professionals seeking temporary housing and empty nesters looking for a way to downsize and stay in Plano.

In Plano, there are areas where limited, well-planned development of varied housing options could lessen traffic and revitalize the community. For example, the planned re-development of Collin Creek Mall includes the building of some multifamily housing, townhomes, office units, retail shops, and boutique shops. This concept of mixed-use redevelopment increases economic vitality and yet reduces in-and-out traffic.

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Daniel Houston
Daniel Houston covers Plano city government, transportation, business and education for Community Impact Newspaper. A Fort Worth native and Baylor University graduate, Daniel reported previously for The Dallas Morning News and The Associated Press in Oklahoma City.
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