Craig Ackerman has served Melissa for four years on the city’s Planning and Zoning committee. Currently he’s the committee’s vice chair but hopes to be elected to city council in the May election.
He grew up in Garland and after graduation went to work in an education exchange program before moving on to the construction business. Twenty years ago he began working at AT&T where he continues to work today as a customer service technician.
He has a wife and three 9-year-old triplets.
Q: What made you want to run for city council?
A: I moved to Melissa about eight years ago, shortly after my kids were born. I moved here for the small town community feel, strong family atmosphere and the good school district. Shortly after moving here I started getting involved with the city, with youth sports and four years ago I started in with the Planning and Zoning committee, which I’m the vice-chairman now. So I’ve been very involved with the city already, with a lot of policies and ordinance changes that we’ve taken care of to ensure that Melissa continues to grow in a way that citizens really want and desire. I’ve always had the idea of moving on to city council and with Tom Stevens resigning, as he’s moving out of the city now, I spoke with him some and a number of the other council members and people around the city have really expressed a lot of support for me. I really appreciate that because I do want to stay here for a long time. I have long-term goals for my kids and family here, and want to do everything that I can to keep Melissa growing and moving on the right path of maintaining that same atmosphere that brought so many of us to the city to start with.
Q: Is there anything you would do differently than current city council members? Or goals you see that maybe aren’t being addressed?
A: Right now I think that the council that we have has been doing a very good job. If it weren’t for the fact that there is an opening where one of the members is resigning in an open seat there is not anybody on the council that I would run against right now. I don’t feel like any of them are that far off from my views of where the city is and where we need to go that would need to be unseated. I think that I would obviously be able to bring a different set of experience and different degree of knowledge in some areas to the council, and possibly open up different areas of discussion as policy opportunities come about or different developers approach the city. But I see the council as a group that is doing a good job right now and that I’d be able to work with well. I’m not a “yes” man. I’m not going to go in there and just get along with everything just because everybody else is doing it. Bring up conversations, and if there are disagreements we will be able to work through those and come to a conclusion where it’s going to take care of the city for the best.
Q: What development do you think needs to come to Melissa?
A: (I was a) co-author on the 2015 comprehensive plan for our city — we did a very extensive citizen survey and some of the things that were brought up by the citizens is what they want. A grocery store being number one on the list. That’s very important to a lot of people here, but also other retail opportunities like sit-down restaurants or clothing stores or boutique shops, and that’s what I see as lacking for what has come to Melissa so far. Since 2006, the population of Melissa has grown by over 200 percent, and the home values have gone up from around $200,000 average median price to close to $250,000 now. Yet there is not a lot of opportunities for the citizens to shop, eat, and live all in the same place. A lot of the citizens would like to be able to spend their tax dollars here in Melissa. So I see a need obviously for a grocery store, and we’re reaching that population point where it would be a possibility for them to come in here without setting themselves up for immediate financial loss. And any developer is going to do a survey and a study of the city and of the community, its surrounding centers and retail opportunities, to see where they can set up business and not go in losing money. That’s very important obviously. … The city does have a 4A and 4B board that our both working with developers. They’re actually pursuing different restaurants, grocery chains, other types of retail stores. They are pursing them and trying to woo them to our city, and doing a very good job of that.
Q: Is there anything you want to tell people?
A: I’m the only candidate with experience in this type of function, with the City of Melissa itself. As far as I know I’m the only candidate who has actually been involved heavily with volunteering in Melissa. The other candidates, I have never met them, but just from reading some of the bios and some of the things that they’ve released, it doesn’t look like anybody else has that experience within the City of Melissa itself. I’m already very familiar with the city’s ordinances and changes that we’ve been able to make and put into effect over the last four years that I’ve been on the P&Z that have laid the ground work to maintain quality development coming to the city. So I would definitely say I’m the only one with experience. I’ve got the most experience and I believe I am the best candidate for the position.