Frisco residents will flock to the polls en masse to vote in the General Election on Saturday, May 2. With more than a dozen City Council and School Board candidates to choose from, there is a decent chance that some of the names on the ballot may not ring a bell.
This year, seven City Council candidates are contending to fill the seat for Place 5 and three for Place 6. Meanwhile, four campaigns have been launched for the Frisco ISD Place 4 chair, and the school board Place 5 candidate, Debbie Gillespie, is running unopposed. Mayor Jeff Cheney is also running for re-election, unopposed. To make the performance of civic duties easier, below is a profile on each candidate.
Incumbent Mayor Jeff Cheney was elected to his current position in 2017. Prior to that, he devoted nine years of his life serving on Frisco’s City Council. He is currently running for mayor unopposed for a second term. Originally from Houston, Mayor Cheney moved to Frisco in 2003. In addition to serving as mayor and councilman, Mayor Cheney has also served on the Frisco Education Foundation Board and has been involved with numerous local nonprofit organizations. Only a few of the many accomplishments during his time as mayor include “Money” naming Frisco as the “Number One Best Place to Live,” the Professional Golfers’ Association announcing the location of its new headquarters in Frisco and the University of North Texas Frisco campus breaking ground. Mayor Cheney is a Realtor® by trade and has owned and operated The Cheney Group since 2003.
City Council, Place 5
Rob Cox has been a Frisco citizen since 1997, and his many civic engagements have taken form at both the city and FISD level. Since 2015, he has served as a Frisco Planning and Zoning Commissioner, including the past two years as the chairman of the commission. His work with the FISD has included tenures on three committees: Facilities and Evaluations; District of Innovation; and Long Range Planning. “I have been preparing for this run for many years, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on council in attracting top employers in tech and research, focusing on smart growth for Frisco,” he explains. “Doing so will increase commercial valuations, resulting in higher average household income with high-paying jobs. We can also create a reverse commute to the north side of Frisco.” He has expressed a desire to attract more Fortune 100 companies to the city and to partner advanced technological firms with the University of North Texas at Frisco.
Frisco Realtor® and entrepreneur Hava Johnston, a life-long Collin County resident, announced the launch of her campaign in late January. “I have always been a connector and someone who gets the job done. I am ready to work with the members of City Council and the people of Frisco to find win-win solutions that benefit us all,” she says. She is also advocating for an animal advisory board and adoption center. Along with her husband, Ms. Johnston owns and operates a real estate company, the Johnston Home Team. A prolific community activist, Ms. Johnston is a current member of the FISD Insight program and is the president of the Trent Wolf Pack Theatre Parent Boosters. As a candidate for City Council, Ms. Johnston has expressed interest in giving small businesses the same tax incentives Frisco has offered to Fortune 500 companies. She also advocates for a higher presence of workforce housing that is affordable to working class residents.
Since moving to Frisco 20 years ago, Ram Majji has been able to balance his professional career with raising children and participating in the community. He believes, in Frisco, consistent leadership and a commitment to conservative fiscal values have been the keys to success. Frisco has become an incredibly diverse community, but leadership does not currently reflect that diversity. Mr. Majji believes everyone wants low taxes, better traffic, more local jobs, better education opportunities and a sense of security. Mr. Majji has more than 25 years of professional experience in technology management and implementation and his experience in SMART technology implementation in the public sector gives him an advantage in evaluating and recommending appropriate solutions to Frisco’s needs. With a strong platform of local jobs, he will work with the Frisco EDC to identify, attract and grow new employers. He also currently serves as a Neighborhood Watch Block Captain, was appointed to the 2018 Citizen Bond Committee, served on the Yes for Frisco political action committee, served as the vice-chair for Frisco Forward in support of the FISD bond election in 2018 and was a founding member and vice-chair of the Frisco Indian Affairs Committee.
In 2011, Josh Meek moved from Denison to Frisco, where he founded the investment holding firm Meek Industries. An entrepreneur since 15, Mr. Meek’s ventures have largely revolved around technology, marketing and event services. In addition to Meek Industries, Mr. Meek is also involved with search engine marketing company Search Almighty and professional DJ/MC service SPIN DJ Entertainment. Mr. Meek has attended the last 43 City Council meetings. “There is an energy here in Frisco, and I am head over heels for it!” he says. One of Mr. Meek’s primary objectives as a City Council member is to provide more ample mental health services to first responders and emergency dispatchers, as they are vulnerable to post-traumatic stress. Another cited goal is the implementation of resources that will aid data collection and analysis of commuter traffic which, Mr. Meek says, will help reduce congestion. Mr. Meek has expressed interest in having city officials coordinate with the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Redistricting to secure a seat in the state house specifically for the City of Frisco.
After obtaining a bachelor of arts in political theory from Patrick Henry College, Ruan Meintjes became the Chief Operating Officer of the Frisco Institute for Reproductive Medicine. In 2018, he earned a master of arts in conflict resolution at Southern Methodist University, where he is currently pursuing juris doctor and master of business administration degrees. Mr. Meintjes is a principal of SkyTrust, LLC, a specialty real estate development firm, and BrokerScan, a tech start-up based in Frisco. “My future and Frisco’s future are inseparably linked. I live and do business here,” he says. As a candidate, Mr. Meintjes has expressed concern about Frisco’s increasing cost of living and believes development in the city should place more emphasis on “third spaces” (local businesses) to “maintain that small-town heart that makes this a charming place to be.” He also advocates for further equipping Frisco’s first responders with resources such as funding and manpower in a way that is proportional to population growth. As he puts it, “We are safe now, but we need to ensure we can project that safety into the coming decades.”
Laura Rummel’s father served in the U.S. Air Force, so she has lived in 10 different states and spent three years internationally in Bangkok, Thailand. She is a graduate of Texas Tech University and received her executive MBA from Southern Methodist University. In 2002, Mrs. Rummel moved to Frisco. She has 20 years of business experience including people leadership, marketing, profit and loss management and business development. She has worked for four Fortune 500 companies, as well as small companies like PayNearMe, where she currently works. Mrs. Rummel has expressed interest in amending city ordinances that dictate the maximum unit occupancy for multi-family housing. “I believe the maximum needs to be lowered in certain zones,” she explains. “Not all areas can adequately support the population density that these large apartment complexes are creating.” An animal welfare activist, Mrs. Rummel is also volunteer for Paws in the City.
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Dan Stricklin earned both his BSBM and MBA from the University of Phoenix. Mr. Stricklin has been in the electronic security industry for more than 15 years. He currently works at NMC and was recently promoted to National Sales Manager. In 2016, he was elected vice president of the Waterstone Homeowners Association, and, in 2018, unanimously elected president. In 2019, Mr. Stricklin was appointed to serve on the Hosp Elementary School PTA Board and is a member of all 65 PTAs in the FISD. Mr. Stricklin supports Frisco firefighters having a fair Workers’ Compensation Program and helping reduce traffic and congestion by voting against high-density apartments. He supports building a 72-hour holding center for stray animals picked up by Frisco Animal Services via a public/private partnership. Mr. Stricklin is married and has two children and his family attends Elevate Life Church.
City Council, Place 6
Two years after moving to Frisco from Pa., in 2015, Sadaf Haq was appointed to the city’s Social Services and Housing Board, where she currently chairs and will serve her second term until September 2021. Ms. Haq also chairs the Frisco City Census Committee, serves on the Leadership Frisco Advisory Council and the Frisco Education Foundation Advisory Board and has taken on several other volunteer roles. “My foremost ‘big goal’ and driving philosophy will be to protect those programs and partnerships that have made Frisco great – to support our school districts, and the Frisco 4A/4B corporations, which brought us projects like The Star, Toyota Stadium and Stonebriar Centre, despite heavy competition from neighboring cities,” she says. “Similarly, to protect and collaborate well with leadership in other jurisdictions. Frisco needs people who can build consensus and model communicative, respectful leadership.” Ms. Haq has worked in the healthcare industry since 2004, and is a current member of the Texas Healthcare Advisory Council and the Texas Health Resources Community Impact Council.
“I have worked my entire life to build a career and family, and I want to ensure future generations can do the same in a safe community,” says Frisco resident Sai Krishna. Mr. Krishna’s professional background is in the healthcare industry. Prior to working for Blue Cross Blue Shield, he worked stints as a registered nurse and as a telephonic coach. Mr. Krishna’s policy proposals include creating a smartphone app for city services, providing economic incentives for business owners and making local entrepreneurship more inclusive of women, decreasing traffic congestion, creating business parks and preserving some of the city’s remaining natural, verdant areas.
Incumbent City Councilman Brian Livingston was first elected in 2017, and in the years since, he has sat on the city’s Budget and Audit Committee, Governance Committee and Legislative Affairs Committee. “I am proud of living up to my campaign promises,” says Mr. Livingston. Many of these promises revolved around multi-family zoning. One of Mr. Livingston’s first votes as city councilman was the implementation of the 7.5 percent Homestead Exemption, increased to 10 percent the following year. He was the only “no” vote on two cases where re-zoning land to multi-family use was requested. “I am not an absolute, no-apartment guy, but I ran that I would not vote ‘yes’ to re-zone land for multi-family use if it would substantially increase traffic in the area and/or butted up next to somebody’s home,” he says. A Frisco resident since 2010, Mr. Livingston has spent two decades working in the financial sector. He serves as vice president of commercial banking for Business First Bank.
School Board, Place 4
Dynette A. Davis
FISD Trustee Place 4 candidate Dynette A. Davis has been an educator and student advocate for the past 11 years. She has been an FISD resident since 2012, along with her mother and daughters. “I have developed programs that contribute to the success of students from their developmental years through college for the past 15 years,” she says. “I have also served as a teacher, mentor, curriculum developer, teacher leader and university professor for both the private and public school sectors.” Ms. Davis is also the author of the 2017 book “College Planning: An Interactive Workbook Designed to Prepare Students for College,” along with four other subject matter experts. Ms. Davis has served throughout the FISD community in different capacities and celebrates accomplishments such as becoming a Texas PTA Lifetime Member in 2019.
Sean Heatley (not pictured)
Sean Heatley has been a Frisco resident for nine years and has been married for 21 years. Together, he and his wife have a first-grade student in the FISD and also own and operate EPIC Distribution, LLC. EPIC was nominated in 2019 for Small Business of the Year by the Frisco Chamber of Commerce, and Mr. Heatley was also nominated as a 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2017, they became investors and advocates in Kidstrong, a Dallas/Fort Worth-based child development program that focuses on 15-month to eight-year-olds. Mr. Heatley has been involved with the district since 2016 on the Priority Based Budgeting Committee and Long-Range Planning Committee. In 2018, he was also a co-chair of the district’s Facilities and Budget Committee, where they successfully put forth a TRE and Bond Package aimed at reducing class sizes and increasing teacher compensation. Looking forward, teacher retention, job readiness and accountability will remain top priorities.
Muni Janagarajan moved to Frisco in 2013 and his daughter has been served by the FISD since. He has a master’s in computer science and has worked in the IT industry for more than 20 years. He firmly believes education is a great equalizer. Mr. Janagarajan is running to build upon the district’s academic excellence by providing leadership in areas of fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability, safety and security measures and as a strong advocate for teachers’ welfare and growth. “I will bring a fresh voice to our board and will work in the best interests of the taxpayers, teachers, parents and students,” he says. As a community leader and volunteer, Mr. Janagarajan has served on the board of directors for the Richwoods HOA since 2017 and volunteered as a crossing guard at Vandeventer Middle School for three-and-a-half years. He has organized and volunteered at fundraising events for Frisco Family Services, Samaritan Inn, Frisco Fastpacs, events for special-needs children and raised funds in support of additional nonprofits.
Amit Kalra is a physical therapist with a master’s degree in health administration from California State University Northridge and is a current doctoral student. After moving to the U.S. in 2007, he moved to Dallas in 2011 and made Frisco home in 2014. He has worked all over the metroplex in various heath care settings serving all age groups. Mr. Kalra has been socially active and civically engaged since 1999. Since 2015, he has been involved with the FISD through early child intervention, zoning changes for the community, promoting FISD students for volunteering opportunities, mentoring and introducing Hindi as an optional language in the district. His son is a first-grader in FISD. Having studied in four different countries and education systems, Mr. Kalra has learned education should inspire knowledge. “There is a lot of good in the world and I have always believed in servant leadership,” he shares. Mr. Kalra’s civic engagement has been recognized on a national level and he is a recipient of the Presidential Voluntary Service Award.
School Board, Place 5
Incumbent Debbie Gillespie is currently finishing out her third term as an FISD trustee and will begin her fourth term. She has been with FISD since 2011 and is currently the board secretary. A widely-recognized public servant, Ms. Gillespie has held various, district-wide volunteer posts since 2003. In 2014, she was elected to serve on the Texas Association of School Boards, where she currently serves as second vice president. In 2016, she was recognized as a Texas PTA Lifetime Member. Ms. Gillespie graduated from Southwest Texas State University before marrying her husband in 1990. Five years later, the couple moved to Frisco. She spent years working as an interior designer and fashion merchandiser, and at one point, worked for the Dell Corporation.
Garrett Gravley is a Dallas-based arts and entertainment writer, journalist and music critic.