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A slate of challengers running for local office in Plano participated in a meet and greet hosted by the Plano Citizens’ Council.  All four municipal candidates echoed a unified message focused on “keeping Plano suburban” and ending the city’s controversial high-density development plan.

The land use issue outlined in the city’s “Plano Tomorrow” comprehensive development plan sparked widespread outrage in 2015, when citizens discovered the Mayor and his allies pushing the unpopular agenda. Despite near-unanimous opposition from hundreds of residents who testified against it, the plan was adopted by a 5-2 margin, with newly elected councilmen Tom Harrison and Ron Kelly voting in opposition.

Mayoral candidate Lily Bao promised to end Plano Tomorrow, which she says threatens to transform the city into a less attractive, urban lifestyle with “too much high-density” development. Her comments received the first of many standing ovations from forum attendees. Bao also noted the city is currently spending hundreds of thousands of its citizens’ own tax dollars trying to squelch their signature-petition drive in court.

Longtime Plano resident Ed Acklin, who is running for City Council Place 4, echoed Bao’s call to “keep Plano suburban,” and further committed to limiting property taxes to only what’s needed to finance the city’s core services. Acklin also cited the need for increased transparency. He says the city doesn’t currently publish the record votes of council members for residents to see.

Unlike the standard required of state lawmakers, there is no requirement for local governments to publish the record votes of local officials, which makes it hard for residents to know who to hold accountable.

Place 2 candidate Anthony Ricciardelli, who returned to his hometown of Plano when he and his wife were expecting their first child, said “there is no better place on earth to raise a family.” He says he’s running to ensure the city council keeps it that way.

Ricciardelli focused on the importance of responsiveness to citizens, transparency, and accountability. He said that includes respecting family budgets, and he committed to maintaining a low “effective [property tax] rate” for Plano taxpayers.

Collin County homeowners pay the second highest property taxes overall in Texas. The City of Plano is one of many cities inside the county that refuses to lower its property tax rate enough each year to prevent appraisal-driven tax increases.

“[T]here’s no reason that residents should have to pay more in taxes for the same services just because their property increases in value,” said Ricciardelli.

Like his fellow city council slate members, Place 8 candidate Rick Smith committed to ending Plano’s high-density development plan and keeping Plano suburban. Smith reiterated that Plano residents deserve a city government that listens to them, and a council that’s transparent so voters can hold them accountable. “We want to be held accountable,” he said.

Plano school board trustee candidates Nathan Rylander (Place 3) and Greg Myer (Place 6) also participated in the forum.

Plano City Council and Plano ISD Board of Trustees elections will be held on May 6, 2017.

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