Q&A Maranda K Auzenne Cedar Hill City Council Candidate Place 6

Maranda Auzenne headshot
Maranda Auzenne

What are some of the things you would like to accomplish if elected?

I would like to accomplish my three key priorities SMART Growth, SMART Businesses and SMART Collaboration which are explained in detail below.  I will especially focus on bridging any gaps that exist with communication with citizens, city leaders, businesses and all stakeholders.  Everyone that will be impacted by a decision should be given the opportunity to participate in feedback regarding the decision.

What made you want to run for this office?

I am running for Cedar Hill City Council because I love where I live and I care about the direction and future of my city. My heart is with serving and my brain is with strategy. I will use both to help effect the type of thoughtful change that the citizens want and deserve and that allows Cedar Hill to continue to be a premier city.   As an inclusive leader who insists on access to participation by all stakeholders, my focus in serving will be to have a reciprocal communication vehicle that allows for thorough and transparent communication to Cedar Hill citizens.

I am also running because from 2019-2022, I chaired the highly collaborative citizen Think Tank for Cedar Hill’s Comprehensive Plan, which sets the direction for our city for the next 10 years.  The intense level of citizen participation employed during the planning process contributed to the success of the final plan and will be needed as we move forward.  I helped to champion this cause.  I know first hand what is ahead and it will take a high level of consensus and a deep and broad understanding of the comprehensive plan. This is not the time to learn on the job!

What are some of the most important qualities that a city council member should have?  

The most important qualities are the ability to listen to citizens and all stakeholders, to deliver creative solutions to complex problems, to act in integrity at all times, to be courageous in the handling of difficult things, to remain transparent, exhibit selflessness and to be prayerful.

What are some of the ways you are involved in the community?

Here is a list of my 15 year involvement along with acknowledgements regarding my service:

* Cedar Hill – Planning & Zoning Commissioner (2018 – Present)

* Cedar Hill – Comprehensive Plan Committee, Think Tank Chair (2019 – 2022)

* Best Southwest Partnership – Board Member (2014-2018)  Chair (2017)

* Cedar Hill – City Center Advisory/Transit-Oriented District Committee Member (2014-present)

* Cedar Hill Chamber – Board Member (2010 – 2015) and Chair (2014)

* Cedar Hill  – Tourism Board   (2014-2016) – rebranded city logo, new tagline, signs, etc.

* Cedar Hill –  Beautification, Environmental and Sustainability Board (2016-2017)

* Cedar Hill –  Bond Committee (2011 and 2017)

* Transformation Vision Cedar Hill – Board Member and Officer (2014 – Present)

* Board Member, Hope Mansion (2013-2019)

* Board Member, Bridges Safehouse (2015-2018)

* Board Member, Leadership Southwest (2012 – 2013)

* Advisory Committee, Cedar Valley College Marketing & Management (2015-2017)

* Leadership North Texas (2014-2015)

Accomplishments (Community and Professional

* Cedar Hill Woman of the Year (2012)

* Cedar Hill – Great Impact Servant Leader Honoree (2019)

* Trinity Church Cedar Hill, High School Commencement Speaker (2019)

* Concord Church – Deborah Servant Leader Award (2013)

* Best Southwest Partnership, Distinguished Leadership Award (2015)

* RED News – Women in Commercial Real Estate (December 2022)

* Globe St. – Retail Influencer (2021)

* Connect Media – Women in Real Estate Awards Honoree (December 2017)

* Dallas Business Journal, Minority Leadership Award (2013)

Discuss your top three priorities.

I hope to accomplish SMART GROWTH by ensuring that proper infrastructure is in place so that the right development is considered.  I believe that development should not intrude on our city, but rather, complement it. I am committed to ensuring that as our city grows, there is alignment with our ability to provide a safe and clean environment and necessary city services efficiently.

I will continue to be a staunch advocate for SMART BUSINESS as I believe that diverse and healthy businesses are essential to a vibrant economy.

I believe strongly that there is more that unites us than separates us. I will have SMART COLLABORATION so that citizens have opportunity for involvement. Collective impact can best be achieved when everyone that is impacted by a decision has the opportunity for proactive feedback.

How long have you lived in the City and what experience do you bring to the role that you feel sets you apart from your opponent? 

I have lived in Cedar Hill for 30 years.  I currently work as the SVP, Property Management for a development and management company.  In this role, I manage national teams via collaboration and effective communications.  I will bring this experience; along 10 years of development knowledge. I will bring my unique experience of five years of service as a Planning & Zoning Commissioner.  P&Z is an advisory commission for City Council and is one of the few boards that actually hears cases  formally with citizens.  For more than 10 years, I managed Hillside Village Shopping Center in Cedar Hill.  I will bring my understanding of and advocacy for businesses.  I have served as a Board Member and Chair of the BSW Partnership which facilitates economic development activity for 12 cities.  I will bring this experience.

My specific experience in supporting businesses, in managing complex multi-million dollar budgets, in development and management of mixed-use projects, in strategic leadership, in galvanizing diverse groups toward consensus, and in understanding planning and zoning guidelines uniquely qualify me for this office. Simply put, I believe that I can leave Cedar Hill better than I found it and help it to continue to flourish.

When making decisions, how do you determine what is in the best interest of the city?  

The most foundational part of decision making is understanding the goal at hand.  From there, it’s critical to research (including listening to and understanding the wants and needs of all stakeholders) while being open to different thoughts.  Community engagement is key.  I will then analyze the information gathered and make a decision.  I try to be informed about what happens if I make a specific decision as well as what may happen if I don’t make the decision.

Please describe how you would react to a situation in which the Council voted 4-3 to approve a very contestable issue and you were on the dissenting side.  

If on the dissenting side and the vote was cast, I would ensure that I understood the other perspectives that led to the affirmative vote so that I could properly clarify to citizens if asked, assess if I could have presenting my thoughts better or differently and then move forward with the next work at hand.  I am an obstacle remover by nature, so I would likely continue to try to find the win-win.

If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?

If I could, I would try to find a balance for the fast track time burden placed  on P&Z by HB 3167.

How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in our town? 

Community engagement begins with identifying all the ways by which citizens prefer to participate.   Understanding how we all receive and consume information is a good exercise to have so that we don’t make any assumptions.  Once the who and how is established, communicating the what in those specific ways is much easier.  Considering time frequency, virtual/in-person, time and method of engagement are important considerations.  Simply put, anyone who wants to be engaged, should have access to do so.

What would you do to improve communication between city officials and the public?

I would employ multiple means of communication and ensure that there  is the opportunity for reciprocal feedback.  People are more likely to communicate when they feel that their thoughts are heard and valued.   This would include all methods such as community and HOA meetings, public events, social media platforms, text, email, notices in monthly water bill mailing, push out through other city departments and partners and utilize boards and business partners as well.

Have you ever changed your mind on an issue after hearing the arguments of the opposing side? If so, what was the issue and why did you change your stance?

Yes.  A couple of years ago, there was a state of the art library being proposed as part of a bond committee discussion.  I made assumptions about the importance of libraries based on my personal filter.  Once I did research and asked lots of questions of citizens, best practices in other progressive and similarly sized cities and saw the data of the incredible importance of the existing, smaller library, it was clear that I was ill-informed. Once I had all the information, the decision was clear.  We recently had Topping Out Ceremony to applaud the progress of our new library.  In looking back, this decision aligns directly with our goal of being a premier city with distinctive character.

Is there anything else you would like to add?  

To have true collective impact, we understand not only WHAT needs to be done to address the needs of the citizens and city.  We should also understand WHO has the technical knowledge, creative problem solving skills and consensus building experience to help carry out those things.  I believe strongly that I am that person.  I would consider it a distinct honor to serve the citizens of Cedar Hill as their City Councilwoman.