UP’s Newest Council Member Aims to Continue City’s Long-Term Success

It’s a bit intimidating, University Park’s newest City Council member Melissa Rieman said, to serve with a group of community leaders who have made such “amazing decisions” in the past.

“There’s been a lot of really good people who have sat on City Council before me,” said Rieman, who was sworn in as a council member in May. “I want that to continue.”

Rieman moved to University Park in 2002 from Atlanta when her oldest child was 1 year old. While residents were very welcoming, Rieman worried about being an outsider in a city with so many multigenerational families. She became involved in the community both to support causes she cared about and to get to know her neighbors.

Rieman has since built an impressive resume of service with HPISD schools, the Friends of the University Park Public Library, and the University Park community. In 2022, she was named University Park’s citizen of the year.

Her volunteer work has included serving as 2022 La Fiesta Chair, serving as president of the Friends of the University Park Public Library, and starting the Raider Challenge fundraiser at HPISD’s middle and intermediate schools, as well as the Scots Challenge at the high school. 

Rieman’s involvement with the city began with a year of service on the parks advisory committee. She then served as the leader of one of the city’s two centennial celebration committees. When UP Mayor Tommy Stewart asked whether Rieman had considered running for City Council, she spent several weeks thinking about it before making a decision. 

“I think a lot of people run for a political office because they think something’s wrong, and they think, ‘I’m going to fix that,’ or they get mad about something,” she said. “I think historically the City Council has made amazing decisions that have really benefitted the city decades later.”

Rieman said she hopes to continue the city’s track record of positive decision-making. She described herself as “action-oriented,” and “kind of anti-kick-the-can-down-the-road.” 

“I’m not good actually at just sitting,” she said. “I should probably take up meditation maybe for 10 minutes a day.”

Rieman said she is excited about the enhancements to the newly renamed Centennial Park, which she would like to see brought to fruition as economically as possible. Other major projects facing the city include improvements to storm drainage, construction in Snider Plaza, and work on the Miracle Mile.

Rieman said she’d like to hear from the people she represents and aims to ensure she makes the best decisions for the city in the long-term. 

“I want us to make really smart decisions,” she said, “so that at the 200-year anniversary celebration, people look back and say (University Park) is a really well-run city.”

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