Donna West, 57, is one of four candidates running for Melissa City Council Place 5. She moved to Melissa in August of 2015 from McKinney and works as a real estate agent for Ebby Haliday in Frisco.
She’s a mother of two daughters — one is an office manager in Dallas and the other a kindergarten teacher in Frisco. West volunteers with Meals on Wheels and at the Heard Museum in McKinney.
The Anna-Melissa Tribune sat down with West on March 21 to talk about why she’s running for the council and her vision for Melissa.
Q: Why did you decide to run for City Council?
A: Well I saw in the paper where Place 5 was going to vacate his seat because he was moving, and I tried to get my husband to run. He didn’t really want to. I think it’s important to shape the way a city grows. I think it’s important to get involved, so I just felt like I should apply for the spot, put in the application and run and see what happens.
Q: What is it about Melissa that drew you in?
A: The country kind of feel and the small-town charm. Some would say that (small town charm) is not here anymore because of the subdivisions, and the City Council gets to have a say in what developments come in, but at the same time look how big McKinney is and look how much McKinney grew and yet McKinney still has the small-town feel, and that’s one of the things that are important to me. Like Stonebridge Ranch for instance. You can’t go hardly a block without seeing people outside enjoying it. There’s trees, flowers, native natural areas, and that’s part of the reason I want to be on the council. I would like to help vote on things because I think things need to develop with natural areas in mind. I think natural areas are super important. I’m kind of passionate about that and I don’t want to see Melissa develop into just a bunch of neighborhoods where developers come in and squeeze in a house on the tiniest lot they can. While there is nothing wrong with small lots, I think a neighborhood needs to retain parks and natural areas — some areas undisturbed and left native.
Q: How does being a realtor help with that?
A: The real estate business helps me because I work with a group in Frisco and we get a lot of relocation, and we have a lot of people coming into the area from other places, and so that gives us an opportunity to see what communities people are drawn to — what draws people to a neighborhood, and of course, schools are real important to that. … I use greatschools.org for clients to help put them in an area where 10 is the highest and nobody wants to be in an area where schools are less than an eight. Everybody wants the eight, nine, and 10s. That’s one thing but I also think that people are drawn to areas like Stone Bridge and other places like that. It’s just beautiful you can still see the country in the city and where things are nice. The buildings that are there you know have natural stone and you know I realize there’s limits to what one vote can have on the city council.
Q: What do you want people to know about you?
A: I just want them to know that my interest is in developing Melissa with high standards. I do think that Melissa needs a grocery store. I just want quality businesses to come here. I don’t even know how to define a non-quality business. I don’t know what an example of a non-quality business would be, because all legitimate endeavors to run a businesses whether you’re a tiny, small mom-and-pop or a Whole Foods or a Kroger or something like that, all those endeavors are good. So, I really don’t know how I’d define a non-quality business, but I want the city to grow in a way to help to reduce the residential property tax rate. You know we’ll have a nice commercial tax base. I love the country feel; I’d like to maintain a small-town charm but growth is coming. We can’t stop the growth from coming — it’s already here you know. To see even in residential communities some variety, maybe some larger lots, open space, some variety of homes from starter homes to people who are willing to spread the land out a little bit and put the house on a little bit more acreage and not try to get every little dollar they can out of every square foot of land. I would want people to know that my intentions on city council aren’t for my own benefit. I have a home here and I would like to see property values increase and that’s only going to happen if we grow the community in a way that benefits the citizens of the community.
Q: Is there anything that you’ve seen the council doing that you would do differently?
A: No because I don’t know what they’re doing. I haven’t been involved in watching what they’re doing so I couldn’t analyze that at this point.
Q: Do you think it’s important that there is a woman on the council?
A: No, I don’t necessary think it’s important just to have a woman on the council. I don’t know, I mean it might bring a little bit different perspective when you’re talking about things that would benefit children, but maybe not depending on the man. I wouldn’t call that something important.