On November 6, residents of Melissa will vote and must choose between two candidates for Place 6 on the city council. One resident, Deidrick Solomon, announced his candidacy for the vacant seat.

Solomon was born and raised in Hobbs, New Mexico. He moved his family to Melissa in 2011. Solomon has been married for 19 years and he and his wife have three children. “I have three children. My 17-year-old daughter is a senior and ready to play her last year of varsity softball before heading to college at Hardin Simmons,” Solomon said.

“Our son is a 12-year-old seventh grader who enjoys hunting, fishing, baseball and football,” Solomon continued. “Our youngest is four and enjoys trying to do everything big sister and brother do.”

Solomon earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with a math minor from New Mexico State University. He has worked at Texas Instruments for almost 20 years, and have held various positions, including his current position; a test application manager.

His experience from TI is part of what makes him indispensable, Soloman said. “I have successfully managed multi-million-dollar projects spanning the globe with teams of 50 plus people. My career has taken me to 11 countries, giving me the experience to work with diverse people to achieve a common goal.”

Solomon said he can deliberate with anybody to find a common answer. “I am very comfortable with debate and evaluating all options, no matter the source. I believe this approach to problem-solving achieves the best results. I have spent a big part of my career asking hard thought-provoking questions, helping build solutions, and working to improve things.”

A candidate with more than just a willingness to serve is needed on the Melissa City Council, Solomon said. “I am running for city council because I know I can make a positive impact on the decisions facing our growing community. My 20 years of experience in analyzing data, managing multi-million-dollar budgets, and problem-solving would be an asset to the council and the issues Melissa faces.”

“Melissa needs a representative that offers more than a willingness to serve,” Solomon continued. “We need someone who is not afraid to ask tough questions and has a track record of digging deep into issues to understand the real impact of their vote. I want to encourage more debate and input from residents in our city’s agenda. I believe the best outcomes come from asking lots of questions, listening to input and respectful debate. As a councilman, I will bring these qualities to the table and believe residents will benefit greatly from this.”

Solomon said he will be the voice for the residents and have their best interests at heart. “Residents should vote for me because I want to keep Melissa an affordable place to live,” Solomon said. “I have heard that some residents have been forced to move due to ever-increasing property taxes. Many residents have seen their tax bills rise as much as 40% over the last 8-10 years. My plan to relieve the heavy tax burden to our citizens is to work towards adopting the effective tax rate.”

“Another way I want to lessen residents’ tax burden is to take a hard stance on our current debt situation,” Solomon continued. “In 2016, Melissa ranked the highest in tax-supported debt per capita in Collin County and 10th out of 784 Texas cities. In 2018, Melissa added $17 Million more to our debt. Including interest, Melissa has obligations of approximately $85 million. For a city our size, that is substantial. We are committing our citizens to a hefty tax burden for a long time to come.”

Solomon said he will also zero in on another issue for residents, Melissa’s water and sewer rates. “After hearing many complaints from residents regarding their high water bills, I took the lead in investigating our rates and how they truly compare to other local cities,” Solomon said. “I attended the special meeting with the city on this and have spent many hours looking into our rates and how to lower them.”

“After reviewing the budget, it seems there is an opportunity for the city to assess more impact fees from developers,” Solomon continued. “These fees will offset the need to charge residents high rates. I will work hard on the council to hold developers more accountable for new infrastructure costs instead of having existing residents subsidize them.”

Communication is the key to the success of any city, and Solomon said that is another issue on his list. “Lastly, Melissa residents should vote for me, because I want to improve communication between the city and its citizens on the details of what is being planned, developed, and budgeted,” Solomon said. “I have received a lot of feedback from voters simply asking for more information and transparency. It can be challenging for residents to attend council meetings in our bedroom community.”

“Meeting agendas and minutes are often lacking detailed, useful information,” Solomon recapitulated. “During my campaign, I have shared a lot of information that I have learned to keep residents better informed. I am not afraid to be questioned. I was the only candidate that was willing to participate, at any date, in the Melissa Chamber of Commerce Candidate forum. As a councilman, continuing this openness and communication is my priority.”

Even though Solomon has never served on a council, he said he has always been a leader and go-getter. “As a candidate, I have spent many hours reviewing the city’s proposed 2019 budget,” Solomon said. “After highlighting several of my concerns, the city elected to revise their budget to correct the oversights. I also shared my views on taxes and started the conversation advocating for reducing the tax rate to offset skyrocketing home valuations. For the first time in 13 years, the city slightly lowered our tax rate from $0.61/$100 of value to $.0609, the rollback rate.”

Solomon noted that he has already assisted with a few changes for the residents. “My actions as a candidate resulted in a positive change for Melissa. I believe strong leaders can make a sizable impact even with small changes, by challenging the right things and coming up with alternatives.”

Making developers responsible is one of the things he plans to do. “When elected, my immediate plans are to ask the council and city leadership to review our recovery of developer water impact fees and forecast a 5-year plan,” Solomon said. “I want to identify everything that can be done, then revisit the aggressive water tier rate strategy. Ideally, I want to get to a point where developers are adequately covering the cost of new infrastructure and not add further debt and tax burden to the existing residents.”

“My next immediate plan is to ask the city manager to work with me to develop a communication plan that would include more details about items on the council and various board agendas,” Solomon continued. “I would ask that the communication include what was discussed, decided, and what the impact of those decisions would be. Social media can be a powerful tool to do this and generate engagement.”

Solomon also plans on setting up an annual residential survey regarding future development, and current operations. He also wants to work to make listening to the residents a priority. Along with his plans already discussed, he said he wants to identify ways to attract more commercial investment and figure out how to improve the quality of the roads.