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Mayor's race heats up before Election Day: Candidates list hot topics, plans to resolve issues plaguing city
By Marthe Stinton, email@example.com
Mayoral candidates Marsha Tunnell and Karen Hunt know Coppell, and before this weekend's election, both candidates were given the chance to sound off on the city's hot topics and issues.
Marsha Tunnell has seen the city grow for several years and has been an active member of the community since moving to Coppell more than 30 years ago.
"From transforming an idle fire station to a community theater, spearheading curbside recycling -- Coppell was first in Dallas County -- negotiating a solution to curb overhead flights and airplane noise, suggesting and/or supporting community amenities like community gardens, a farmers market, local cemetery and redevelopment of the city's historic downtown, I have been an active participant in creating the Coppell lifestyle citizens enjoy today," she said.
"Some ideas include a public art program and cooperative training curriculum at Coppell's North Lake campus targeted to local businesses' needs," she said.
Tunnell said residential-zoned property in Coppell is almost completely built out with just a few parcels throughout town, making it challenging to provide housing for young singles, couples and empty nesters who want to downsize.
"The new Land Use Plan proposed a variety of housing to meet emerging needs, but making it a reality will be challenging because it is a new and different concept," Tunnell said. "Maintaining the city's high building standards while developing the remaining non-residential land and redeveloping existing property will also be a challenge. I think it's critical to not let our development standards slip so that we can continue to live in a city that 'looks and feels different.' Single family is the vast majority of the housing stock in Coppell. On the commercial side, I believe the most critical need is redevelopment or re-purposing of vacant space in existing retail, office and commercial."
Other challenges include gas drilling, Tunnell said.
"New information on gas drilling seems to come out every day with regard to environmental impact on water and air quality," she said. "With more well sites apparently planned on the North Lake property adjacent to Coppell school sites, we must work with Dallas to uphold the strictest citizen protections. Public safety, geological instability and roadway impact are other concerns worth monitoring."
Karen Hunt said she has a sincere interest in the work of the mayor and city council.
"My family has lived in Coppell for 15 years and we intend to stay for years to come," she said. "I enjoy working with groups of independent, forward thinkers who focus on the 'increasing quality' aspects of their mission. I believe in the election process -- we are privileged to live in the country...a country that provides the freedom to elect the people that represent us in government. Coppell has not had a choice in the position of mayor in over 10 years. It is time to have a choice."
Hunt, like Tunnell, saw development as a concern for the city and cited the Land Use Plan as a key to unlocking economic development.
"Our city is starting to see some redevelopment of residential lots and will soon see the redevelopment of commercial properties," she said. "Our deliberate management of the redevelopment is just as important if not more important to ensure that our city continues to prosper and sustains its vitality. The new Land Use Plan is a critical component of the future of this city.
But, Hunt said, another key topic was the Cotton Belt and Dart rail.
"It is a matter of when, not if, the Cotton Belt is developed through Coppell," Hunt said. "It is important that we have a seat at the table to ensure that the interests of the city of Coppell and its citizens are considered. We need to be engaged in the overall regional transportation discussions."
Infrastructure also presents a challenge as most of the roads in the city were built more than 20 years ago.
"Some of our facilities and infrastructure are beginning to show their age," Hunt said. "It is important to keep our facilities relevant and our infrastructure in good working order. The continued systematic and scheduled reconstruction will limit the number of failures in the future."
Voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 12 at Coppell Town Center, 255 Parkway Blvd.
Coppell City Council Place 3 sees large candidate list
It will be a tough decision for Coppell residents as Saturday's election brings four candidates to the front line for Coppell City Council Place 3.
Concerned by some of the issues facing the city and issues coming up in the future, Coppell City Council candidate Mahesh Guduru decided it was time to throw his hat into the political ring.
"The city tax burden is [a top issue in Coppell]," he said. "[I will minimize or eliminate future tax increases on the citizens."
Guduru said the North Lake Development would be a major contributor to the quality of life issue facing the residents of Coppell with its additional traffic and movement within the city.
"We need to lower the residential tax burden by attracting right businesses into Coppell city limits," he said. "We are in a great location with proximity to the DFW airport and major freeways around our city. If we try harder, we can attract high-paying jobs, which would boost our tax base and also increase our sales tax dollars."
Guduru said he is a great facilitator between different groups as well as an excellent team player.
"I am an independent thinker and forward-thinking fiscal conservative," he said.
To Guduru, key characteristics that set the city apart from other North Texas communities include the diverse community and its welcoming residents.
"We have great schools, which are the biggest anchors to our community," he said. "We are centrally located within the Metroplex and we have a small-town feeling able to reach anywhere within minutes."
Council hopeful Wes Mays considered running for council sometime before he finally put is iron in the fire.
"The timing was very good this year," he said. "Our youngest daughter is graduating from Coppell High School; my father-in-law moved in with us and we don't have to travel to see him; there were a number of places open on the council. When the special election was called for Place 3, I decided to file."
Coppell has seen several council members come and go, but with every new round of elections new issues taunt the council.
To Mays, term limits -- limiting the amount of terms or years spent on council, teen drug and alcohol use, North Lake and economic growth -- are issues he's ready to face head on. Teen drug and alcohol use, Mays said, is not the problem of the city's youth, but that of the adults.
"We, as parents and a community, must stand up to what is right," he said. "We need to accept the fact that we are the parents and our children will adopt the standards that we live by. Teenage use of drugs and alcohol is unacceptable. We need to set the standard."
Mays said the city must find alternate sources to continue to grow the tax base by fostering a business-friendly environment to attract outside businesses to the city.
"I am a professional engineer by training and an executive manager," he said. "I deal with budgets, schedules, department management and shifting priorities on a daily basis. I will bring an organized methodology for listening to desires for our city, planning to meet those desires and then acting in on those plans. I am committed to this city as our home and want to help make it better for all."
Greg Garcia said he decided to run for Place 3 help preserve the quality of life that residents and the council have worked so hard to establish. Garcia is a seasoned council veteran, having served from 1998 to 2002.
"I want to make sure that the continued development of our community is carefully managed and meets the requests of our citizens," he said. "We need to find the balance between supporting our local businesses and encouraging other businesses to consider Coppell."
Unlike other candidates, Garcia said he didn't feel the city was facing any major issues, but that residential development continues to grow while commercial development has slowed.
"We have either missed opportunities that were attractive or we got passed by because of the reputation the city has when dealing with developers and or business owners," he said. "We have several areas where buildings are vacant and maintained to a minimum standard and when things don't go as planned, we have to take a different approach. There needs to be flexibility on how things get approved and we need to look at each project on a case-by-case basis."
Garcia said the council needs to be savvy enough to understand that different architectural styles lend to a more inviting and interesting feeling in a town the same way nice parks and streetscapes do.
"I think every developer should be considered as a possible investor and we need to understand the investment they undertake when establishing a presence in the community," he said.
Garcia is a 20-year resident of Coppell, 10-year member of the Coppell Parks and Recreation Board and currently serves as chairman. He is also a 15-year member of the Coppell Chamber of Commerce and has served as Chairman of the annual Coppell Chamber Golf Classic for the last 10 years.
"I care about Coppell," he said. "I will utilize my leadership skills, experience and expertise to serve the citizens of Coppell to the best of my ability through integrity, honesty and loyalty."
Margaret Lucyk said she is running for council to better connect with the city.
"I am running in order to better measure the heartbeat of the Coppell community and ensure it stays healthy and vibrant," she said.
The city's budget is a top concern for Lucyk, who said she hopes to find ways to spend tax dollars in a more efficient manner.
"It is my understanding that the city of Coppell has hired a firm that will survey residents to get a feel of what they want to see in their community," she said. "This feedback will give city council a better view of how and where to invest taxpayer's dollars."
Lucyk said she is a driven team player who would like to see an active community that grows with all stakeholders in mind. To Lucyk, the city's schools are a driving point for newcomers.
"Coppell has high standards for its schools, thus it attracts people that value education," she said. "It is my prerogative to keep our school system at the forefront of the 21st century able to compete with any other individual in this increasingly interconnected global community."
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