Beyond the Ballot: Get to Know Your Candidates

FRISCO CITY COUNCIL ELECTION 

Shona Huffman – shonafrisco.com, Place 2 

Incumbent Shona Huffman was elected to the Frisco City Council in 2016 and currently serves as Mayor Pro Tem. She works as the community relations manager for MTX Group Inc. and was president of the Leadership Frisco Class XVI. Ms. Huffman was involved in the 2015 Citizens Bond Committee; chaired Frisco’s Legislative and Arts Facility committees; and was a member of its Governance Committee, as well as the Mayor’s Youth Council and the FISD’s Long-Range Planning Committee, among others. She is also a member of the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary and mentors students in the FISD’s Independent Study and Mentorship program. If elected to a second term, she would like to “see (the council) do more in bringing jobs and commercial investment to Frisco, allowing us to provide further property tax relief for homeowners,” as well as improve roadways and public safety infrastructure. “And I want to see us make progress on the community arts facility — that is one area where there is a demand that we have yet to meet.”

Jeanne Weisz – Place 2 

Jeanne Weisz worked in the radiology field for more than four decades. For a dozen years, she was an ultrasound technologist at Medical City in Plano, and also worked at its Frisco location before retiring in 2018. The Panther Creek resident volunteers with local and national charitable organizations and is an active member at Frisco First Baptist Church and the Frisco Senior Center. The city’s tax burden “is taking a toll on our residents, and many people feel that large corporations and special interests take precedence over the people who live in Frisco,” she says. “I feel the City Council is not representing the residents of Frisco as much as big business, special interests and outside investors. The everyday, hardworking citizens need a voice, and someone to champion their concerns, and someone who is not conflicted about who they represent. I will be a voice for the people.” 

Mukesh Parna – mukesh4frisco.com, Place 2 

Mukesh Parna is a founding member and 2020 president-elect of the Dallas North Indo Centennial Lions Club. He supports a variety of local charitable programs benefiting shelters for homeless, low vision kids for studying and endeavors benefitting impoverished children internationally. After 20 years, he left the corporate world, made Frisco home and started a small business. He would like to see more stability in small businesses and help sustain jobs brought to Frisco by maximizing returns on incentives that were provided to big developments, reduce property taxes and resolve traffic congestion using technology. “We need a person who has the passion to give back and sustain small business jobs – someone who has experience to measure returns on big incentives, maximize returns on taxpayers’ money and who has knowledge of utilizing corporate and commercial to increase overall tax base and reduce resident taxes. That has been my strength.”

Stephanie Cleveland – stephanie4frisco.com, Place 4 

Stephanie Cleveland leads the Global Strategic Pursuits Team for Dell Technologies. A U.S. Navy veteran, she advocates for “vulnerable” members of the community, including the homeless population and has led committees focused on veterans’ issues. When it comes to tackling traffic troubles, “There is no one-size-fits-all solution for a city as diverse and spread out as Frisco. I think we are going to have to look at a solution in layers,” she says. “I would like to see a combination of an inter-city transportation system such as a trolley that hits major areas, attractions and neighborhoods, and maybe the scooters/bikes for concentrated areas like downtown, the ‘live, work, play’ communities … and the new UNT campus.” 

Bill Woodard – bill4frisco.com, Place 4 

Incumbent Bill Woodard was elected to the City Council in 2016 and previously was a member of the Frisco Planning and Zoning Commission. He also served on two Charter Review Commissions and chaired the 2010 Census committee. The executive vice president and chief credit officer at Titan Bank, N.A., he has been involved with the Panther Creek Homeowners Association; served as president of the Shawnee Trail Cycling Club; and is a graduate of Leadership Frisco Class XIII. Balancing resources is one of the biggest issues facing the city. “With Frisco’s growth, we are seeing residential, commercial and retail development. The emphasis of where we should focus can change in a very short amount of time, depending on a variety of factors. Council and city staff have performed admirably in balancing these various projects. It takes a talented group of people to go from looking at residential developments, to big projects such as The Star, Frisco Station and the PGA, and then to commercial redevelopment, such as the mall or Hall Park.”

FISD SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION  

Nate Adams – nateforfriscoisd.com, Place 1 

Nate Adams is the owner-operator of FullSec Solutions, which provides physical and cybersecurity systems to nuclear power plants. The U.S. Air Force veteran served in the Iraq War and founded the Airman’s Leadership Council, an organization that provides leadership opportunities to junior service members. The father of a pre-teen son who is autistic, Mr. Adams says, if elected, he would work to help the district attract and retain “the best teachers,” boost student safety, spend funds more wisely and advocate for special-needs students. “Education is the foundation for a peaceful and prosperous society. I want to ensure all our students enter the world prepared to thrive in today’s economy. We need a board diverse in skills including corporate finance, strategic goal-setting and measurement, with experience in large organizational management. I can bring these missing skills to the board, as well as unique perspectives from being a security expert and a special-needs parent.” 

Gopal Ponangi – gopalforfisd.com, Place 1 

The father of two daughters, Gopal Ponangi is a program and project manager for Tata Consultancy Services. He founded and is president of the Shubham Foundation, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to FISD high school seniors and supports the GDAS Cancer Clinic in Richardson. A member of the FISD’s Long-Range Planning Committee and the Frisco Education Foundation’s advisory board, he volunteers with Young Entrepreneurs Academy, a collaborative program of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce and the FISD. “One of the biggest issues facing the FISD is addressing the growth challenge,” he says. The district’s “strong academics and outstanding opportunities for students continue to make the FISD a destination school district for families moving to or relocating within the Dallas/Fort Worth area.” Growth “needs to be handled by having a keen eye on the growth patterns and new registrations and by tweaking the plans to build new schools and re-configure existing schools without impacting class sizes.”

Natalie Hebert – nataliefisd.com, Place 2 

A former FISD teacher, Natalie Hebert has taught at the elementary and secondary levels, as well as special education. At Vandeventer Middle School, she co-chaired the family and community involvement committee. The mother of two also served as a member of the district’s Priorities-Based Budget Committee, which analyzed district spending and was on the District Improvement Team. “I want to bring an educator’s voice to the boardroom. Public education is vital to the livelihood of our community. We have a shared responsibility to ensure that the needs of every single child are met every single day. The end goal is to establish a team that works together to foster the potential each student possesses, while also addressing the needs of the staff to ensure their full professional and personal development,” she says. Also, “Frisco continues to struggle with the fast-paced growth of our community while maintaining the level of student opportunity. Until Texas comes up with an effective plan for school-finance reform, the FISD will continue to be forced to derive innovative ways to fund our school district to the level of excellence that our community expects.”  

Steve Noskin – stevenoskin.com, Place 2 

Incumbent Steve Noskin, whose company manufactures and installs playground safety surfacing, was elected to the FISD Board in 2016. A member of the West Frisco Homeowners Association, the father of four founded the nonprofit Fury Basketball and Flag Football Leagues and has coached several local youth sports teams. Formerly the president, vice president and a trustee of the Half Hollow Hills School District in New York, he chaired its School Board Facilities Committee. On his campaign website, he lists among his goals “establishing transparency and fostering community participation in all decision making, so every member of our district has access to critical information and the opportunity to contribute to the process,” and “demonstrating fiscal responsibility in the allocation of our tax dollars as we implement cutting-edge programs.”

Muniraj Janagarajan – muniforfisd.com, Place 3 

Muniraj Janagarajan is an information-technology specialist for a Fortune 500 company. The father of a teen daughter, he has served as a volunteer crossing guard for Vandeventer Middle School; is a member of the Richwoods Homeowners Association board; and is a graduate of the Frisco Citizens Police Academy. Improving the district’s “fiscal discipline” is among his top priorities. “We are collecting huge property taxes from each and every homeowner, along with bond debt (and) other state funds to spend on top-class education for our children. We have good opportunities to improve our financials.” Also, “The FISD should expand its current mission statement to include all stakeholders such as taxpayers, teachers and parents, along with students. This will guarantee prudent decisions by trustees and (that) every tax dollar collected is well-spent with high return on investment.”

Chad Rudy – chadrudy.com, Place 3  

A certified financial planner with Retirement Investment Advisors, Inc., incumbent Chad Rudy was elected to the FISD Board of Trustees in 2015 and for two years has served as its vice president. The father of three daughters was on the 2014 FISD Bond Committee as well as the Frisco Sunrise Rotary and Leadership Frisco Advisory Council boards. “I am proud to have been a part of so many solutions and advances that have been implemented (within FISD) since 2015, but I also see how much more we have to do,” he says. “I am running for re-election because our district is constantly changing. It is different today than when I first ran in 2015. We have 10,000 more students, 12 more campuses and 600 more educators. We have added new programs, new technology and new outreach to parents. Our senior leadership team has gone through some changes, and we are working with new regulations and requirements from the state legislature.” 

Visit friscotexas.gov/1490/2019-general-election to learn more about Frisco’s 2019 General Election and view the City Council candidates’ ballot applications. For the FISD Board of Trustee candidates’ campaign notices, visit friscoisd.org/about/board-of-trustees/board-elections.