Friday, March 5, 2021

Taking Out of Context CoR Candidates for Place 6

Community Impact Richardson asked several questions of the candidates running for Richardson's Place 6 City Council seat. I want to highlight a few words of their answers that most caught my attention. Excerpts, by their nature, take words out of context. No attempt is being made to twist the meaning of the full answers. Read the full answers at Community Impact Richardson and judge for yourself.

Daniel Burdette: "With the age of our city, there is a constant need for maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure. There has been significant focus on this in the last several years, with strong budget support for street, alley and sidewalk replacement, which I would continue to support if elected."

This is the usual answer. It doesn't address why, if there has been "significant focus" on this, streets, alleys, and sidewalks are a perpetual issue in cities like Richardson. The answer doesn't acknowledge that despite our "spirit of ingenuity, innovation, and invention," we keep approving unsustainable projects that don't bring in enough tax revenue to pay for the streets, alleys, and sidewalks demanded by those projects over their lifetimes. It's the built form of our city that matters, not the brand names we attract. As long as we continue developing like we're still a 1980s-era suburb, we'll continue having candidates saying that one of the biggest issues facing our city is "maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure."

Marilyn Frederick: "Being a Realtor for more than 39 years..."

Reading the first three words of Frederick's first answer, "Being a Realtor," and I'm already bored. We already know she's a realtor from seeing for-sale signs in yards to seeing advertisements on her personal Facebook page. General advice to all candidates: don't use your political campaign as a marketing campaign. For example, sending campaign emails from your business email address, and using your business's logo in your signature to those emails, could also be interpreted as using your political campaign to steer business your way.

Marilyn Frederick: "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."

She cites her ten years on the City Planning Commission as an asset, naming CityLine, West Spring Valley, Main Street (thankfully, she doesn't call it the Core), Collins/Arapaho TOD, and the IQ (if you don't know what that is, well, no one else does, either). She conveniently neglects to mention Palisades, perhaps because of the fiasco the city's involvement in that development turned out to be, from ignoring the vocal opposition of hundreds of residents to the subsequent bribery conviction (since set aside) of the mayor who was a vocal supporter in favor of the development. (Update: Full disclosure: I supported Palisades.) Let's just say that promising to "never discount the input and expertise our residents have to offer" sounds a little hollow coming from anyone involved in any way with Palisades. I suggest adding a little humility to the campaign pitch. (Update: while serving on the CPC, Frederick recused herself from a vote on the Palisades development.)

Arefin Shamsul: "I own and operate a civil engineering business specializing in municipal infrastructure."

Shamsul should lead with that. Not only is it something we don't know about him (at least I didn't), it's something that makes him stand out from the rest of the city council members and candidates. Everyone talks about infrastructure; Shamsul appears to have experience and expertise in the matter that could be useful serving Richardson.

Arefin Shamsul: "We need to facilitate development of starter housing for new families who will be part of meeting the need for a strong, effective workforce."

This is the only answer that talks about increasing the diversity of housing in Richardson. (Not even the realtor addressed the need.) To return to an earlier observation, we will continue to be stretched to afford maintenance of our streets as long as we don't evolve to building a sustainable city. There are many things that go into that, but one of them certainly is the availability of an adequate supply of starter housing. Without that, the first rung of the employment ladder will be occupied by workers who will need to commute long distances, putting more pressure on road construction and maintenance not just in Richardson, but throughout the area.


Barry Hand said...

Mark, I see your blog linked from time to time. I'm not sure a response is worth it but 'out of context' is for sure the necessary qualifier for the readers on this one. I don't know Mr Burdette but his answer is usual and normal because our streets are the usual problem - and quickly getting worse. I don't hold him or anyone else responsible for suburban layouts that were minted 50-70 years ago. We have what we have, and approving different formats now will not fix our vast array of broken streets. As for Ms Frederick, linking her to Palisades and the ensuing corruption is a cheap shot - even for a blogger. Please do some research before maligning someone. Marilyn recused herself from the case due to her proximity to the property and did not attend the hearings. I know because I presided over that recusal and the hearings as CPC Chair. But even if she had been in the room, the CPC is an advisory panel that judges land use applications only. It is up to Council to ultimately weigh the final political and financial dynamics. You can Monday morning QB that all you want now, but many genuine citizens acted in good faith to deliberate the process on the facts given. A city council spends a great deal of its time on land use zoning cases. Ms Frederick's experience in the real estate industry and Mr Shamsul's experience with infrastructure are both useful to our city. Let's leave it at that and thank them for their willingness to step up and lead.

Mark Steger said...

Barry Hand, thank you for adding the fact that while serving on the CPC, Frederick recused herself from a vote on the Palisades development. That's important "context" that I failed to research and, hence, failed to include.