Candidate Q&A: Ann Bacchus runs for Place 7 seat on Plano City Council

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Ann Bacchus is running for Plano City Council, Place 7. She is running against candidates Lily Bao and LaShon Ross.

Community Impact Newspaper sent Bacchus 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?

I am running for Place 7 on Plano City Council because I love Plano. We have low tax rates, top notch parks, recreational facilities, libraries, plenty of jobs and an outstanding quality of life. I see great opportunities to protect our high quality of life and to make our wonderful city even better by supporting our schools, addressing traffic and driving economic growth. I want to foster an attitude that wins support for change, powers progress, moves efficiently through the city’s approval process and builds a resilient, safe community through collaborative partnerships with our citizens, investors and businesses.

I understand what makes this city great—our residents, education, safety, and amenities—and I can help to bridge the gap between recent additions and our existing cultural excellence. You will see examples of that in my civic involvement. In addition, I also bring a one-on-one approach to civic duty. We live in a large city, but not one that is large enough that we should not focus on and recognize the needs of our individual residents. This is more important than ever now, as our city’s population continues to become more diversified and we look for ways to reduce our property tax rate, maintain our property value and status as one of the best cities in America.

What are your qualifications for seeking this office?

I have proudly served our city’s families as an attorney in my law practice and as a volunteer with Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army and Genesis Women’s Shelter. In 2007, when we lost our beloved son Kareem at the age of 17, we were devastated, but even that turned into an opportunity to serve. We established Families in Transition, a non-profit dedicated to helping families suffering trauma and loss.

I am a community organizer with both municipal and state policy experience. In 2017, I stepped up and ran for city council to ensure that all members of our community were heard. In 2017 and 2018, I successfully organized more than 50 members of our community to support a balance budget that reduced taxes and increased public safety. In early 2018, when our city’s brand of excellence took a hit, I organized more than 100 citizen volunteers to protect our city’s brand from further damage by sending a strong message that Plano is a welcoming, inclusive and safe community. Also in 2018, I organized more than 25 volunteers and championed the city’s Envision Oak Point plan, a major development that will create jobs.

If elected, what would your top priorities be?

If elected, my top priority will be to keep our city safe by addressing our traffic. I know firsthand the importance of protecting our neighborhoods and families by supporting our first responders. Another part of keeping our families safe is by addressing one of Plano’s biggest challenges today—mobility. Road infrastructure is an essential part of our daily life and we must deal with our citizens’ expectations of reliable and safe road infrastructure for traveling in and through the city to our jobs, schools and recreation.

Congestion is more than an inconvenience. Road accidents and long commutes are costly, dangerous and threaten our quality of life. We can reduce traffic congestion with better infrastructure and good planning. That includes addressing issues like additional and better use of mass transit; road repair; intersection flow-through issues, and more. I believe we have the right experts already on staff to help with each of these issues; if we help to focus their efforts. Some issues will require cooperation between the city and other governments and agencies (like Dallas Area Rapid Transit), and I believe as a skilled negotiator, I am well suited to help successfully close out these issues.

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

This is not a question that I would answer “generally.” I believe that you have to look at each project based on its merits.  Here are two examples:

1.    The planned redevelopment of the Collin Creek Mall is a project that I would support, including the multi-family components. The space is right for multi-use development, and the infrastructure supports it.

2.    The many multi-family developments that have sprung up right on major street corners, especially those that are single-use (just apartments) multi-family. In general, if these developments are used to fill in open spaces, and don’t have the multi-use or walkable element, they don’t work well.

Plano is a city in transition, and it requires leaders to govern with flexibility, vision, and a focus on how our city’s demographic shifts. In addition, we must address the impact of our aging residential neighborhoods on our existing housing stock. We must challenge our city to meet the changing needs of our residents and to maintain viable, livable, high-quality neighborhoods that attract people to our community. Let’s create neighborhoods that bring people together, celebrate diversity and allow us to interact with and love our neighbors. Let’s keep our community strong, united and prosperous. Together, we are—one Plano!

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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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