Justin Landrith teaches history at McKinney North High School. He moved to Melissa three years ago and announced he’s running for the open seat on the Melissa City Council.
Growing up in an Army family, relocation became routine for Landrith. He said he’s moved 33 times in 35 years. He graduated with a Master’s degree from Troy University in Alabama and has a wife and 3-year-old son.
Q: Why did you decide to run for city council?
A: I think the main reason is in the three years that I’ve lived here I’ve never heard about the things that are happening in Melissa. You know, you hear that they’re may be a Buc-ee’s coming or we may be getting a new restaurant, but no one ever talks about what are the implications of those things on the average everyday citizen of Melissa. I hear a lot of people talking about the feed lot and the local dump and all the other things, but I don’t hear about what the city is doing to try and help the average Melissa resident. And I want to do that. I want to inform the people; What is the city talking about? What is it that we’re trying to confront? And figure out what the people want, too. I would like to do with those things because it seems to me in the three years, almost four years that I’ve been here that a lot of decisions get made but there’s no input from everyday Melissa residents.
Q: Do you plan on staying in Melissa for many years?
A: That is the goal. When my wife and I bought this house that we live in now, I told her I had moved around so much in my life that when you average moving once almost every 9 months to every year, to maybe 15 months, you get really tired of moving. You get really good at it but you get really tired of it really quick, and when we moved out here I was looking for a place where I could put roots. Because I’ve never had roots. And it got to the point where I started looking around at all my friends that I had met throughout my life that had gone to the same kindergarten with their friends or they grew up together their entire life. I’ve never had that. You try and stay connected to people online but I want my son to grow in a place that someday he can go hangout with his friends who he went to high school with and he also went to elementary school with. So I wanted to find a place where I could put roots.
Q: What experience do you have that qualifies you to be on the city council?
A: I would like to think that my teaching experience has played some part in it. I mean, I know that obviously it’s two different fields between running city government and running a classroom, but when you have 180 kids who all have unique personalities and unique opinions and you want to try and give them the freedom to have some input in the way the class is run. You have to be able to take into account all those things to try and make the best decision possible for your students. So I know it’s kind of very different ends of the spectrum, but having the ability to hear the voices of 180 people and try and derive the best decision for your class. It could be a similar situation, it’s just on a much larger scale.
Q: Have you attended any of the city council meetings previously?
A: I have not. I honestly I don’t ever hear when the meetings are, and that’s one of the things that is concerning. I mean I know that they put out announcements and that there’s some usually in the paper but I don’t necessarily get to read the paper and sit down. If I see it online I’m probably going to be there, but I don’t see those things happening.
Q: What do you think about development in Melissa?
A: I think development is something that is going to happen. … Obviously I love the fact that it’s kind of a small town, but I know that growth is here. Growth is absolutely a fact of life for Melissa. I think there has to be a way for development to not over develop Melissa. You know putting more houses in smaller space. I think we have to figure out a way to try and kind of keep the small town appeal of Melissa, because that’s why a lot of people move out here. But I do think we have to grow. I mean the issues that most people talk about is we don’t have a grocery store. We’ve got a drug store now, but we now have two, but we need more options for people other than having to go to McKinney and buy all the things or maybe even up to Anna, now that Anna has a Walmart. While the growth is important, it’s how is the growth going to benefit the people here? Like if Buc-ee’s comes how are we going to use those tax dollars that Buc-ee’s can bring in to bring more business and effect the school system and improve the situation here in Melissa?
Q: Why do you think people should vote for you?
A: I know that in a lot of political elections people talk about change, and … I am someone who is different. … I haven’t served on the Planning and Zoning boards and things like that. I would love to, I just haven’t had the opportunity. But I think you get a different perspective when you have people who aren’t in those things, that are willing to meet people and interact with them where they’re comfortable. I mean we’re in an age now where a lot of things are going through social media and you can put out the information online and let people give you a voice if you value that. And I’m the type of person who can do those types of things and I want to be able to do that for the people here in Melissa.