Hello and Happy April to each of you! I’m sure you will notice a difference in today’s post as well as in the following articles that arrive in your Inbox this week…
Considering the intensity of our nation’s most recent election, I believe most of us are taking a larger interest in our local governments as well. Many of you have read The Art of Living Beautifully is changing platforms a bit this spring. No longer a personal blog, TAOLB is taking shape as a digital magazine dedicated to shedding light on McKinney culture. I can think of no cause more important to share with McKinney residents than the current election our town is facing on May 6; the election that has all of us asking, who will be the next Mayor of McKinney?
I had the privilege of interviewing all three of McKinney’s mayoral candidates, and first on the list was Mr. George Fuller. We met on a quiet Monday morning at Scooter’s Coffee Shop for some non-coffee: hot peppermint tea for me, peanut butter smoothie for him—a decision he made after I bragged about kicking my caffeine habit since completing the Whole30. I had a few questions regarding his past and plans for our community’s future. Here is what I discovered:
George and Maylee Fuller arrived in McKinney in 1994, when friends offered to host the would-be Fuller’s wedding in their backyard overlooking the Eldorado Golf Course. They were immediately attracted to our then-small community and soon after, made McKinney the home where they would raise all four of their children, ranging in ages from 16-27. As a second-generation builder, Mr. Fuller took Fuller Custom Homes to new heights when he expanded his father’s business into North Texas, including Dallas suburbs such as De Soto, Carrolton and finally to McKinney.
INTERESTING FACT: His first business venture in McKinney was actually prior to his wedding and consisted of the acquisition and development of a five-acre plot in Eldorado. The area is known as Brookside Court and consists of 18-20 Fuller Custom Homes.
It wasn’t until 2009 when Mr. Fuller joined the mayoral race against current McKinney mayor, Brian Loughmiller, that politics ever entered his sights, “I consider Brian a good friend and have a lot of respect for him. However, after learning of an eminent domain lawsuit here in McKinney which resulted in the most egregious property rights infringement I had ever seen, I felt I had no choice but to enter the race.” Mr. Fuller had no political base or even believed he would win, but he felt extremely passionate about several issues in our city and was concerned about McKinney’s future. A large percentage of voters agreed with him; He retained 40% of the votes in that race, not too bad for a political rookie. In fact, Mayor Loughmiller was so impressed by McKinney citizen’s response to his opponent, the new mayor nominated him to serve on the McKinney Community Development Corporation, where he held a position for five years.
Today, he finds himself campaigning again. Mr. Fuller sees a real void coming in McKinney’s leadership and believes in a city growing as fast as ours (some 80 people a day!) it is essential the mayor understands development, “I have the vision, expertise, skill set, life experience and professionalism to lead our town in the direction it needs to go,” he told me.
If you are a McKinney resident no doubt you have seen George Fuller campaign signs all over town with his mayoral motto, #mckinneyrising splashed across. It’s true, assigning a hashtag to a popular campaign is catchy and certainly a common trend, however, this particular hashtag will essentially be Mr. Fuller’s mission statement should he take office. His belief in #mckinneyrising is what drives his passion, especially when it comes to sowing into the east side of McKinney and helping them rise,
“Tell me where in the last 4-8 years have we given any indication, any hope that we wish to partner with the east side and make them a part of what we are trying to accomplish as a city? We take every opportunity to NOT help the east side rise. I know it’s not some calculated plan…but no one is looking at those things holistically and really putting the pieces together.”
Refurbishing parks, infrastructure, zoning and ordinances, helping citizens afford to live here, all these areas are what Mr. Fuller believes can help make both sides of HWY 75 rise together.
When asked what he would hope to accomplish in the first ninety days of office, without hesitation, he stated the establishment of an ethics policy which would firmly set guidelines on how the City Council works would be the first priority. “At our first meeting, I will introduce the creation and implementation of an Ethics Policy as an agenda item. We have what is considered a City Council/City Manager form of government which is supposed to set vision and policy and then empower the staff to execute upon it. Unfortunately, that’s not how our city’s government has been allowed to operate because of certain Council members,” he told me. Mr. Fuller believes with the implementation of a new ethics policy, several aspects of our government will change for the better, most importantly the City Manager and Economic Development Corporation President positions will see much less turnover. Historically both positions have been a revolving door for staff Mr. Fuller informed me.
In addition, Mr. Fuller plans to create and implement a new Retail Development Strategy within the first year of office. As of now the neither the Economic Development Corp or McKinney Community Development Corp are heading up the current retail strategy. In fact, a third-party firm has been hired to create a strategy on the Assistant City Manager level, which Fuller believes is not how most cities operate or how McKinney will find success.
“If I am elected I will bring Retail Development Strategy back to our Economic Development Corporation and absolutely have our EDC be the front person, the front line of all development questions in our city—that is generally where those calls go. No one calls the Assistant Manager, Barry Shelton, to talk about retail development…Our EDC needs to proactively go out and speak to the developers and businesses we want to have in McKinney, and entice them to consider our community; not have this convoluted process that ends with an Assistant City Manager. We have not had success this way, so by definition it has not been working.”
Our interview concluded as most do, with a hand shake and a smile of appreciation. Mr. Fuller’s inspired passion for our city was obvious and dare I say contagious…just look at me! Our forty-five minute meeting prompted me to call the MCDC and EDC to ask questions regarding the Retail Development Strategy. I even questioned the other two candidates on the topic…you’ll have to tune in Wednesday and Friday to hear their positions. I’ll give you a hint, it is very different than Mr. Fuller’s.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to introduce yourself to George Fuller, may I suggest sending him an email or attending one of the many meet-and-greets in show of support of the #mckinneyrising campaign? Your vote deserves to be a knowledgeable one.
Best of luck, Mr. Fuller. Regardless of this mayoral race’s outcome, I believe all citizens can get on board with your mission to see a future full of #mckinneyrising.
-ciao for now-
For more information on the George Fuller for Mayor Campaign, please visit his website, http://www.mckinneyrising.com/
*No compensation was acquired for the publication of this article. The Art of Living Beautifully has no affiliation with the Fuller for Mayor Campaign.