MY PLATFORM CENTERS ON PEOPLE
I firmly believe that the narrative in the City of Dallas needs to center on our people. They are our greatest resource, and we ought to think about all of our efforts in terms of how we are making this city work for people. Things are going very well in Dallas. We have a thriving economy. Our city has been transformed with new parks and amenities, and we are raising our profile nationally and internationally as a fantastic city, full of opportunity. The future of our city is about opportunity and access. Let's build on all the positive, and do all we can to make sure everyone has access to opportunity.
We need greater collaboration and coordination between city government, civic groups, nonprofits and businesses to ensure better progress. I've spent my life in Dallas working across all these areas. I know good work is happening - but it's a matter of bringing it all together.
This means development that will benefit people all over the city, not just in areas that have historically received more attention. We should support entrepreneurs and ensure a thriving job market that provides employment and careers. We need to address the rising cost of living in Dallas, including home ownership costs. We need to continue putting the focus on public schools, early childhood education and adult education and training programs. And we need to focus on the basics like good streets and sidewalks, mobility and transit, and a strong public safety system that protects and respects us.
We are making great progress in Dallas. Our future is working together in stronger partnership to invest in our people.
ADDRESSING OUR HOUSING CHALLENGES
The cost of owing a home in Dallas has skyrocketed since the great recession ended. Today, it is not only more difficult to purchase a first home, it is also much more expensive for people who already own homes, because of rising property valuations and thus higher property taxes. Homeowners deserve property tax relief, and the state ought to pay its fair share to cover our education budget instead of offloading the responsibility onto homeowners. We also need to address the supply. In rough terms, Dallas suffers from a housing market that lacks a wide range of pricing. While it is true that we need more subsidized affordable housing, we also need more lower and middle market rate housing. With more total housing units on the market, we could achieve more market stability at the same time we make it easier for people to live and work here, purchase a home and build equity. We would also expand our tax base and increase municipal revenue to use on needed services. When I first moved to Dallas, the market had many starter homes. Today, people have to go to the suburbs to find a starter home and suffer difficult commutes and traffic congestion. We can begin to turn the tide by unlocking city-owned land for developers willing to add lower cost housing options. We can make it easier for developers to work in Dallas by adding more standardization and predictability in our zoning, and by making our permitting process more transparent and automated. As we develop new districts, we can encourage more mixed-use development, density, walk-ability and sustainable design. We also need to think about younger people who may not be ready to own a home, and those who are not in a position to purchase. We have a very high percentage of renters in Dallas, and rents have also increased dramatically. We have to make sure our supply of housing includes a range of price points so that people with lower incomes can still afford to live and work in Dallas.
AN EDUCATED CITY IS A SUCCESSFUL CITY
Our school systems have their own leaders and elected officials, but our schools and the city must work in concert because our fates are intertwined. Although having no direct control of any ISD, the Mayor of Dallas can help set the agenda, and our current city leadership has done a good job of putting education in the spotlight. Better schools produce a more qualified work force, making our city stronger. Education is more important than any other single factor in helping people achieve success. Education is also one of our most powerful tools to break the cycle of systemic poverty. I am a strong supporter of public schools, early education, adult education and training, and higher education available through our many colleges and universities. As Mayor, I will actively look for ways for the city to build a strong, strategic relationship with our education system. Our work must go beyond what happens in the classroom, as well. This means internships at the city, but also encouraging businesses, corporations, nonprofits and other groups to establish internships. Young people need to be directly exposed to the workplace and receive guidance from mentors. We can encourage companies that do business in Dallas to invest in local schools and institutions of higher learning. You ask, what can the Mayor do to impact education? I say, it's a matter of creativity and leadership.
EXPANDING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
Dallas is already a beacon of opportunity. We have one of the strongest economies in the country. But we need to take steps to open access to success to more people. Every district in Dallas has neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. More than 100,000 children in Dallas live in poverty. As Mayor, I will take what I learned as the leader of the Mayor's Task Force on Poverty and the Child Poverty Action Lab and work to reduce the key drivers of poverty. This will include more housing options, support of businesses and entrepreneurship, recruiting companies that can offer quality jobs and careers, a focus on early education and public schools, and bringing together government, schools, nonprofits, corporations and citizens so that key stakeholders attack the issues together.
PUBLIC SAFETY IS A MATTER OF BALANCE AND CONTEXT
Everyone wants strong public safety in Dallas. We want to feel safe in our neighborhoods. Dallas needs to address public safety in a broader context and with a data-driven solution. First, we should not assume that we need X number of police for X number of citizens. There is no police staffing formula that is based solely on population. Instead, we have to look at staffing in terms of the geographical expanse of the city, the number and kinds of situations that require police response, the overall level of crime in our city, and other variables. My basic feeling is that we probably do need additional police. Many citizens are demanding this, and the problem is real. I think it would be wise to wait for the police staffing analysis the city commissioned in 2018 in order to understand what is needed. We also need to think about changes to policing as a budget matter. We currently employ about 3500 officers and we have a budget of just under $500 million each year. The funds to add officers will have to come from adjustments in the budget, or enhancing our municipal revenue. The two largest drivers of municipal revenue are property tax and sales tax, so we have to think about the initiatives that will allow us to have the funds we need for public safety and other critical city services: stablizing the rising cost of owning a home in Dallas, adding development that will increase our tax rolls, and economic development that will lead to better jobs and stronger commerce in the city. We also need to recognize the good work done by our public safety system. Police are responding quickly to so-called Tier 1 calls that are the most critical. We need to do a better job marketing and recruiting. Dallas is a vibrant city and we can find qualified individuals who will want to pursue a career here and benefit from all that our city offers.