By now, many residents are aware of the approaching city elections. On May 5, the residents of Anna will get to vote for who they want for the mayoral seat and the Anna City Council Place 1, as well as Places No. 1, 2, and 6 for the school board. While incumbent Mayor Nate Pike is running unopposed, the race for Place 1 has six candidates vying for the position.
Elected officials will serve a three-year term of office. Place No. 2, 4 and 6 will be up for reelection in May 2019, with Place No. 3 and 5 up for reelection in 2020. The six candidates running for Place 1 are incumbent Justin Burr, Stan Carver, John Houcek, Bill Morgan, Anthony Richardson and Kevin Toten. All will be given the opportunity to share their platforms on why they think they are the right fit for the City of Anna.
Richardson and his wife have been residents of Anna since 2016. He currently serves as the Senior Network Engineer for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.
“Think of my role as the TxDOT for the organization’s information highway,” Richardson said of his occupation. “It is a critical role for the organization and I enjoy the opportunity to serve this organization in this capacity.”
Richardson said he has quite a bit to offer to city council. “My experiences are sundry,” he said. “Educationally, I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Art and Sciences from the University of North Texas. Moreover, I hold a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of North Texas.
“I have served in various capacities that have afforded my opportunities to experience and engage in civics in a myriad of ways. Namely, during my involvement with the National Association of Graduate Professional Students I served as the Regional Director of Legislative Affairs. Our advocacy platform afforded us opportunities to work in Washington D.C. where we engaged our public officials concerning matters that are important to graduate students.”
Richardson said he has and is currently serving on various boards, including the City of Anna’s Economic Development and Community Development Corporations. He also served as a commissioner on the recent 2017 Charter Review Commission for the City of Anna.
“I am actively engaged with the Anna ISD as an ambassador for their Ambassador Academy,” he said. “I’ve also been involved as either a member or leader inside of organizations like the International City Managers Association, the Urban Management Assistants of North Texas, the Public Administration Student Association, Graduate Student Council and Engaging Local Government Leaders.
“I’ve worked a great deal of my professional life inside of school districts and have also had many opportunities to travel domestically and internationally which has not only broadened my horizons and perspectives, but has also enabled me to appreciate and embrace the diversity of our community here in the city of Anna. I’m an avid researcher and an analytical thinker and all of this makes me a prime candidate for the Place 1 position on the City Council.”
Richardson said growth is inevitable because Anna is a prime area of the metroplex. “This is a good thing for the city. By way of an analogy, I personally want to eat at a restaurant that has a large crowd, or people lined up trying to get inside. This is an indication that the food is good, else no one would be there. The same goes for the city of Anna. There’s a lot of people here in Anna, and more are coming. This is an indication that Anna is good. So, let’s pull up a chair and dine together; it’s great here in Anna.”
Richardson said one of his plans is to focus on taxes and entities. “My plans are two-fold. I want to continue to build the city’s commercial tax base which ultimately equates to an increase in revenue streams for our local government. With these new levels of revenue, we’ll have the resources to continue to execute the vision laid out in the city’s strategic plan and address the concerns of our citizens swiftly and efficiently.”
Building the commercial tax base allows the city to hire additional first responders, Richardson said. “Additionally, we can hire more public safety officials to be able to respond effectively to the growth of the city. We can enable our city staff to execute various infrastructure improvement projects to make sure we are providing great roads and public facilities for our residents.”
“We can vet more commercial entities and continue to market our 85-acre Business Park located on the corner of Highway 5 and the Outer Loop. We can also improve various other aspects of our city life like our parks and green-spaces, city facilities and equipment, and provide raises for our staff so that we remain competitive and retain great employees. I plan to facilitate these things as councilman.”
Richardson said he also wants to educate. “My other vision is to really extend my educational arm into the community. I currently have a not-for-profit organization called Anthony D. Richardson Inc. where my goal is to focus on ministerial training initiatives, education initiatives for citizens and others designed to draw out the best in them, with the overall goal of increasing community camaraderie.
“I firmly believe that if we do not empower the individual person to excel at whatever positive that they set out to do, we can have all the resources we can gather for this city and it will not flourish because the individuals who inhabit it are not flourishing. This is extremely important for the overall health of this city.”
Many residents worry about the city’s water quality. Richardson said clean water is a commodity and should be treated as such. “In many developing countries, the access to clean water is a premium. I say this to say that even though we live in a modern developed country, access to clean water should always be one of the top concerns in our purview.”
“Clean water — from an economic perspective — is a toll good that is not an unlimited resource. Therefore, we need protect our interests in clean water. This includes making sure that our water sources are not tainted or over-processed with high concentrations of chemicals resulting in adverse effects to our citizens. We also need be well versed in EPA standards and actively pushing the envelope to make sure that what we are doing to our water and developing for our water sources is of the highest and safest quality.
“Pollution concerns from the explosive growth must be continually assessed and addressed. Therefore, as a council member I aim to delve deeper into the mechanics of our water system to collaborate with our personnel and make sure that the proper testing, filtering/processing, and delivery mechanism are safe. Additionally, I aim to work with our local, state, and federal officials to develop the necessary legislation to be sure that our water systems are protected so that we don’t enable zoning laws, for instance, that would allow highly corrosive commercial facilities manufacturing in our city or surrounding areas near our water system ultimately contaminating it.”
Richardson said he is not going to stand on the platform of promising lower taxes. “As your local official, I will not make sweeping promises to lower taxes because sometimes those promises are rooted in unrealistic expectations or they come with other strings attached.”
“I’ve heard this adage which I’ll reuse because it applies here. It goes, ‘every gimme has a gotcha.’ Ultimately, this is to say that lowering taxes means that something else must give. The subject around taxes I believe is a symptom of a larger looming issue, and that is that many of our citizens are not realizing any raises from their employers to their overall income.
“This is a huge problem. As property values increase, for instance, even if the city council maintains the same taxing rate for every $100 of assessed property value in the City of Anna, the tax bill for the resident still increases. If this continues to happen without our citizens realizing raises in their income from their employers, the debate regarding taxes will continue. The reality is that the taxing bases — residential and commercial property taxes and sales tax being the largest sources — is what creates the revenue streams in the city so that it can improve and fix roads; provide police and fire services; and pay its personnel to name a few.”
“Without such or negatively impacting these revenue sources will have a direct negative impact on our citizens. My efforts through Anthony D. Richardson Inc. are aimed to directly and positively impact these questions. There does warrant, however, a need to review our appraisal processes at our appraisal districts to ensure equity for our citizens. However, I don’t think that lowering taxes alone is the sole answer to address the fact that individual’s income is not rising at the same rate or better than the cost of living, and this has a compounding negative effect.”
Stay tuned for more Meet the Candidates and the complete coverage of Anna and Melissa elections in the upcoming issues of the Anna-Melissa Tribune. For a longer version of this article, visit amtrib.com.