A Word From Your Mayor
Paul Voelker has called Richardson home for 35 years. During that time, he’s been known as a neighbor, a professional, a homeowner, a friend, a leader and a volunteer. But for the past three years, he’s been most widely known as Mayor Voelker. Read on as we catch up with the man who has been serving our city as a council member since 2013.
Tell us how you arrived in Richardson.
I came to Richardson right out of college in 1983 after graduating from William Penn University. I went to work for the Hewlett-Packard Co. sales and marketing organization at its office on Campbell Road. My wife, Kris, joined me one year later after she graduated from Penn with a degree in education. Like so many, a job brought me here, but the wonderful community kept me here. My first community involvement was with the Richardson Chamber of Commerce. I worked on several committees and enjoyed getting to know all the various businesses and people that make up the Telecom Corridor area.
What makes this city unique?
Once you live here for a bit, it’s not hard to distinguish one suburb from another. Mesquite is known for the rodeo. Garland has an industrial feel with its “Made Here” moniker. Richardson is different because of our focus on innovation. Our city is very focused on tech-driven projects, and many of the people who live here and run for office bring that same mentality and level of service expectations with them. I am a product of the local tech industry myself, and I think the view we have to planning our work and working our plan has worked well for Richardson and is noticeable in our levels of government service for the people who live here.
Describe our city’s culture in three words.
Inclusive, decisive and extraordinary. Every community has a mix of backgrounds and heritage. It’s the American way and is what built our country. We embrace our heritage and benefit from it because it works every day to create a stronger community.
Richardson has a rich history. What has been key to its growth?
For one thing, Richardson is not about focusing on individuals. We are a group. We work together. We plan together, and none of what we do is about one person. There are leaders, to be sure, but our history—and our success—is because of the everyday good work of people who live here and take part.
Describe the city to potential businesses looking to call Richardson home.
We have benefited from a diversification of business in our community, to be sure, but don’t let that mislead you to thinking we are not still very tech driven, specifically in the telecom industry. There are still hundreds of telecom industries located in the Telecom Corridor area. We are just stronger now because of the presence we now also enjoy with others, insurance especially.
What do you see for Richardson in the next 15 years?
The Cotton Belt rail line is going to make the biggest impact on this community during the coming decade. After that, it’s finding new opportunities for redevelopment, especially along our Main Street corridor, to keep our community vibrant.
With a changing demographic, how do you encourage new neighbors to get involved?
From a city perspective, there are many opportunities for people to take part through volunteering. People can volunteer or attend events at the library, or through our many community events we hold every year such as the Wildflower and Cottonwood festivals. There are also smaller events, like Trash Bash and even opportunities at the animal shelter if people wish.
How do you see the growth of UT Dallas as a Tier One university affecting our community?
It would be nothing but a benefit. It will drive even further community investment in research and development, and that will help the entire region. We will be ground zero for that.
Should we be concerned about our water?
No, the services provided by the North Texas Municipal Water District are superior and completely safe. Additionally, they continue to work a plan for growth to prepare us for the people still to come. A new reservoir will break ground in the coming weeks and future ones are also planned.
The addition of multi-family housing has been controversial. What is your response?
The question of housing is about supply and demand. We are lucky in the respect that our property values are going up, increasing our investments in our property. But, that has started to price many young professionals and workers out of our housing. We need to have housing stock for many levels of professionals in our community because not doing so will impact our ability to attract and keep large employers. If that happens, we could find in the future that our values go down due to competition from other places, and that would cause more problems than the issues with growth we have the opportunity to face today.
Tell us about some of Richardson’s best-kept secrets.
Let’s not let those out. The people who live here know, and we like to keep it that way.
What makes you most proud to call Richardson home?
We are nothing if not for our people—the foundation that makes this a good home. Qualified and hard-working people are the strength of our community and make our neighborhoods, businesses and most everything we have possible. We should all be proud to call Richardson home.
In 15 years, Richardson will be known for ...
Being a great place to live, work and play!