Friday, April 21, 2023

Richardson Echo's May 2023 Voter's Guide

Welcome to the Richardson Echo's May 2023 Voter's Guide.

This guide covers the contested places of the Richardson City Council election and Richardson's City Hall Bond Election.

Early voting starts April 24th, for Richardson City Council and the single bond issue involving City Hall. Regular voting day is May 6th. Unless you live under a rock, you know that Mayor Paul Voelker chose not to run for a final term. The Comprehensive Plan and City Hall are long term consequential issues.

I started the Richardson Echo over a year ago, and I've had some stops and starts. When election season started, I asked on social media rhetorically if I should re-energize this blog for the sake of this election. I received a lot of encouragement to do just that, so I did.

I've written a series of pieces about this election season and the issues that I believe are essential.

Here is a list if you need to catch up.

My Observations on this (Serious) Silly Season

Richardson will Elect a New Mayor... and That is a Good Thing

Richardson's Most Important Election in a Generation

City Council Candidate Interview Lessons

How I am making recommendations.

My recommendations concentrate on what I view as the most critical issues facing Richardson for the next two years and, consequently, issues that will affect Richardson for generations.

Richardson has just begun to update its Comprehensive Plan. I describe my views of that process in the "Most Important Election" post listed above. The results of that process, (potential) zoning changes, incremental changes of the built parts of our city, and how it would influence economic development will result in tremendous impact over the years. While the work on the Comprehensive Plan will take place over the next two years, the results will be felt for decades.

I interviewed all candidates. Again, I thank the candidates, and I am tremendously grateful that they took the time to meet with me.

My recommendations emphasize who I believe are the best candidates for updating Richardson's Comprehensive Plan and how candidates will be good decision makers or leaders for planning, zoning, and land uses issues in general.

Other endorsements might take a different view, and that is OK. Parks, the Arts, and many other areas are certainly important. However, I wanted to provide information to the reader where I have some expertise.

Place 1 - Richardson City Council

Curtis Dorian -- RECOMMENDED

Mr Dorian is a long time resident of Place 1 and a former neighborhood association President in Place 1. During his interview and subsequent public statements, he made it clear he considers the Comprehensive Plan work a top priority. 

He also - without being prompted - discussed the changes in Richardson's economic development policies. Richardson has brought those processes "in house" instead of using the Chamber of Commerce. These answers indicate he is paying attention to critical issues in Richardson.

He believes that parts of Place 1 have not received the attention that they should be receiving in our planning and land use policy discussions. He is entirely correct. 

Besides these qualifications, he served on the City's Arts Commission and has been involved in the Chamber of Commerce. Professionally he runs an interior design business and has a strong professional understanding of housing revitalization through that business. 

G. Scott Waddell

Mr. Waddell is a newer resident of Place 1. He previously lived in the J.J. Pearce area and was president of the neighborhood association there. He has leadership accomplishments there including spearheading the creation of a mini-park in cooperation with the Richardson Independent School District.

While Mr. Wadell has a leadership record, Mr. Dorian has a broader resume and is keyed in to current issues.

Place 3 - Richardson City Council


Stephen Springs is a former member of our City Plan Commission where he rose to be Vice-Chair. While he was in that position, he was frequently the most on-point and most knowledgeable regarding technical issues that were in front of the City Plan Commission. That input was extremely valuable and productive. This is direct experience with respect to actual decisions the City Council must make. He can hit the ground running. When developers come to the City Council he will not have the wool pulled over his eyes.

Professionally Mr. Springs is an architect with a firm that performs civic architecture and recreational facilities. Many of these are high dollar projects where their municipal clients put millions of dollars in their hands. In that practice, he has to gain consensus from the general public on that particular community's project. Yet again that is direct experience that overlaps City Council work especially during our Comprehensive Plan process.

My message to voters:
Voters would be foolish not to take Mr. Springs up on his offer to serve on the City Council this term. Rarely does this set of skills come up for public service. While Mr. Springs opponent is honorable, I would implore voters considering his opponent to understand what we are passing up if we do not elect Mr. Springs at this time.

Dan Barrios 

Dan Barrios is a long time community volunteer with varied experience. He has served on the Dallas County Historical Commission and on the Board of the Richardson YMCA. He is a graduate of the Richardson CARES program and is currently in the Richardson Citizens Police Academy.

Mr. Barrios strongly (and I believe sincerely) wants to be a voice at City Hall for residents. Lots of candidates say that. Mr. Barrios, in my opinion, genuinely possesses a strong set of skills in that regard so his claims are more than mere rhetoric.

My difficultly with recommending Mr. Barrios is his lack of direct activity in Richardson relative to Mr. Springs extensive experience especially considering what the Council must tackle in the next two years.

Place 5 - Richardson City Council

Ken Hutchenrider -- RECOMMENDED

Ken Hutchenrider is Richardson Methodist CEO. He has served on the Richardson City Council since 2019. Mr. Hutchenrider, according to our interview, wants to set Richardson on a forward looking path in the Comprehensive Planning process. 

He has been on the correct side of several split zoning decisions of the Council. Most notably he was one of the four votes that disallowed expanded drive through service at the Richardson Restaurant Park which, if passed, would have been contradictory to the original plan. After that vote, the owner re-tooled to create the Old-75 Beer Garden. 

He was also one of only two votes against permanently entitling a surface parking lot car dealership at the border of the Main Street district and the Interurban District just north of Main Street. While on the losing side of that vote, it showed a willingness to stick to plans and shows an understanding of long term consequences. 

Todd Hunter 

Mr. Hunter has been an executive in the oil and gas industry for nearly 20 years according to his website. This gives him experience in budgetary issues and infrastructure. Also, according to his website, he was a U.S. Army Flight Officer with active duty experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

I believe Mr. Hunter to be sincere, and thoughtful but lacking in any direct experience in Richardson.

Mayor - City of Richardson

I make no recommendation for Mayor.

I have known both mayoral candidates for a long time. I worked with Janet DePuy when I was the President of Richardson Heights Neighborhood Association and several Heights neighborhoods collaborated on projects. Bob Dubey and myself were in Leadership Richardson together.

Remember that my endorsements are focused on the current Comprehensive Plan update and issues of planning, zoning and land use. Both candidates have frequently been on what I consider the wrong side of zoning decisions that were not in Richardson's long term interests. While I will vote for one, I do not feel comfortable issuing an endorsement.

I list the candidates below in order they appear on the ballot.

Bob Dubey 

Before being on the City Council Mr Dubey was the Athletic Director of the RISD. He served on the City of Richardson Parks Board and the Charter Review Commission. He has served on the Richardson City Council since 2017.

During our interview, Mr. Dubey stressed listening to residents and making sure citizens voices are heard. 

Janet DePuy 

Ms DePuy served for 10 years on the City Plan Commission.  She was elected to the city council in 2019 and represents the City of Richardson on the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the Regional Transportation Council, and the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition. She has been Mayor Pro Tem on both her terms on Council.

For ten years she was President of the Heights Park Neighborhood Association.

City Hall Bond Election

The City of Richardson has called a $46 million dollar bond election to replace City Hall after the current building was damaged in a fire.

I recommend voting FOR this bond election.

Although I recommend voting for this bond, questions remain such as whether citizens will be given appropriate input into the design of the project. Richardson's City Hall Bond website.

 I thank all readers for their time and attention this election. Now.... Go Vote!


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