CEDAR PARK, TX — The 2020 election is heating up across Texas, and there are plenty of races with candidates eager to serve in elected office. Eyes are primarily focused on the presidential election, but voters will also decide the outcome of key local races.
In Cedar Park, Mel Kirkland is running for Cedar Park City Council Place 2.
Mel Kirkland, 56, seeks the Place 2 Cedar Park City Council seat. Courtesy photo.
Party affiliation: NA
Occupation: Landscape Project Consultant, 15 years, Project Management 30 years.
Previous elected experience: Cedar Park City Council, Place 2.
Family members in government: Yes, my cousin serves in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Campaign website: Melforcedarpark.com
What is the single most pressing issue facing the city, and what do you intend to do about it?
At the city level it has always been how to bring people together. Helping people to be open-minded, to learn about Other individual’s experiences, values and ways of life in order to work together to provide opportunities for all citizens to share in what makes Cedar Park awesome.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I have continuously lived in Cedar Park for 15 years. I own a home. I own a local business, and have been an active member of the Cedar Park Chamber Of Commerce and the business community. I have been a HOA President, volunteered for multiple city boards, commissions and charities.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
Starting with the Tourism Board in 2005, we started with a $40,000 per year budget and 3 Hotels. In 9 years, I was part a great group of individuals. From 2012 -2015, I was appointed by the members as the Chairperson. During that time we start initiated several projects including implementing the City’s Gateway Monuments, the Public Arts Program, the Sculpture Garden, Military Statues for the Veteran’s Memorial Park, helped fund the Stream Train, and Maintained the City’s Historical Website and information. In 2015, we had about 8 hotels and the budget had grown of over $500,000 with a million dollars in reserve.
I then was moved by Mayor Powell to the Community Development Corporation (4B Board). This board takes 1/2 cents of sales taxes and spends it on community programs, infrastructure and city wide initiatives. The first project I was involved in was the purchase of the Lime Creek Quarry from the City of Austin.
During my 3 years on 4B we worked with CAMPO to fund road, trail and bridge projects, fund parks facilities, sports and wellness equipment, provide Economic Development funding to bring jobs and business growth, added playscapes to parks, right turn lanes along our major roads, did sidewalk repairs and added new sidewalks where they did not exist.
We supported and funded the 380,000-square-foot Parke Shopping Center to Cedar Park. Worked with the Parks Dept to create, develop and implement the BMX Bike park in Milburn Park, added bleachers to the sand volleyball courts and lighted the Brushy Creek basketball courts and the sculpture garden.
In 2016 we funded the solar light project for our city trails. Did a $500.000 Park improvements to the Veteran’s Park, added a traffic signals. In 2017 we started the initial funding of the Bell Blvd redevelopment a Project ($10 million).
In 2017 I was appointed to the Charter Review Board where 15 appointed citizens took a deep review of the entire charter and made recommendation to council which the residents then voted on.
In May 2018 I was elected to city council. The serve on the Economic Deveolpment Subcommittee, I am a member of the Brushy Creek Water Utility Board, a member of The Capital Area Council of Governments, the city’s representative to the regional Clean Air Coalition and the current Mayor Pro-Tem.
Over the last several years I have been the HOA President for Forest Oaks, I have been involved in the 100Club of Central TX, LISD’s LEEF and The Vista Ridge’s Band Program, Heroes Night Out Veterans Center, Special Olympics, HCCM, Reveal Resource Center and most recently the Jail to Jobs Program.
What steps should state government take to bolster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic for local businesses?
The state needs to let cities self-govern. Provide clear and concise recommendations for how to adapt to the COVID situation and reduce the risk of future infections. The communities and business will recover if we work together. During this crisis I have seen the best of Cedar Park come out to help and support each other. This is the American Way, the Texas attitude, and Cedar Park’s resilience.
How will you address the calls for racial justice and police reform?
As an African American, I believe this issue goes back to the first question. How do we learn to live together. Cedar Park is a very popular, growing community with great things to offer its residents. I believe that Cedar Park Police Department has made great strides over the past 3 - 5 years to move from a Classic Williamson County middle-sized town mentality to a modern totally inclusive small city reality. Our city has some of the highest certifications for law enforcement in the country, achieved several state and national awards, the majority of the department is mental health trained and all officers take the “Implicit Bias Training” which greatly emphasizes community policing and interaction.
List other issues that define your campaign platform:
We all can succeed when we are able to work together! Cedar Park needs to remain balanced. We have a great community atmosphere due to our residents, our business and the services provided by the city’s staff. Successful business and people are consistent, predictable and not impulsive. We plan long term and execute based on sound expert advice and experience. We are a financially healthy. We care for each other.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I have always been a very accessible. I love talking to people about Cedar Park. Cedar Park is a wonderful place to Live, Work and Play. I am Proud serve the citizens of this great community. I love CedarPark!