With Election Day looming in Dallas, there are nine candidates who hope to have your vote. The SMU Daily Campus is here to provide you with a voter guide highlighting the major issues for the candidates. The Millennial Club, who hosted their forum at SMU’s McCord Auditorium, said Dallas has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. The DMN reported only 6 percent of eligible voters vote in city elections.
Through individual interviews with the candidates and the Millennial Club’s SMU mayoral forum, the SMU Daily Campus gathered information on most of the candidates. The Daily Campus Editorial Board will also be endorsing a candidate on Saturday, May 4.
Griggs is currently a city council member. Regarding public safety, Griggs believes in increasing the salaries of Dallas police officers to $72,000 per year while maintaining the pension plan and improving the healthcare plans available to officers. Griggs said at the forum he worked to help ensure the first responders’ pension fund did not go bankrupt.
He also wants to make housing more accessible by using city-owned areas for development of new, affordable housing projects. Regarding infrastructure, Griggs wants to improve the quality of DART as it boasts the largest light rail network in the country, but fails to deliver a reliable bus service and clean facilities. With Dallas spending around $280 million on DART, he wants more accountability for the service. Griggs said Dallas could improve the quality of road construction by changing the cheapest bidder process.
One economic development, Griggs expressed an interest in raising the minimum wage to $15. He referenced the Council supporting wage raises for sanitation and Love Field workers from the federal minimum wage to $11 and hour. Griggs said Dallas needed “to stop the corporate welfare and the giveaways.”
— The Daily Campus (@thedailycampus) April 16, 2019
Formerly a DISD teacher, Solis is a trustee for the Dallas Independent School District. His campaign focus is education. Solis hopes to improve education by expanding the availability of primary education and partnerships for more specialized workforce training using already existing programs with Dallas area community colleges.
Solis also intends to review and refine the budget so that more can be spent on Dallas police officers as well as issue low-interest loans to police officers given after 10 years under good conduct. Solis also proposes rent breaks for them through public-private partnerships.
He also wants to address the racial and socioeconomic segregation in the housing market by making affordable public housing more accessible through greater development, much like Griggs. Solis is also an advocate for raising the minimum wage, and he said, “Go try living on $15 an hour in Dallas. We need way more than $15 an hour.” Solis believes minimum wage is the first step, not the only step, in creating a more equitable Dallas. The next step is to make sure Dallas residents are trained with skills demanded from “a 21st-century economy, a global economy.” He refers to a massive partnership, which includes SMU and UNT, that helps issue associate degrees to Dallas residents.
Villalba, a former Texas House Representative, is an experienced state politician like candidate Eric Johnson. Villalba runs on three objectives: “making sure we’re safe, making sure we’ve got good infrastructure, making sure we have economic development.” Safety is the foremost concern. He also wants to outsource infrastructure development to private firms in an effort to update the infrastructure systems within Dallas. He promises to oppose increases to the sales and property taxes in the city so that Dallas attracts larger corporations to the city for economic development. With economic development, Villalba said we can have an expanded tax base. Villalba said he is a proponent of “common sense conservative economic development.”
Ablon is a real estate developer running for mayor. He emphasizes creating consensus among stakeholders and increasing communication between DART and Dallas, as well as DISD and Dallas. He hopes that the increased communication between all the players at the table will eliminate bureaucratic waste in the city. He is a staunch supporter of Dallas’ first responders and is an opponent to the District Attorney’s reforms. He hopes to continue Dallas’ economic growth by attracting future-generation tech jobs to Dallas. Ablon believes his platform is primarily geared toward young people.
Black is the founder of the business Target Supplies & Logistics. Black believes we are in a crisis in regard to public safety. He grew up in Frazier Courts housing projects. While talking about public safety, Black said he believes there were more opportunities for him, 30 years ago, than there are now for millennials, and that affording those in poverty opportunities will alleviate crime. Regarding Dallas’ shrinking police force, Black said we should raise police pension funds with pension obligation funds.
Along with affordable housing, Black is running a campaign focused on combatting the root problems that contribute to poverty. Black hopes to address this by developing more public housing projects and increasing access to healthcare for Dallas residents.
Montoya is currently the president of the Dallas Democratic Forum and was nominated to be ambassador to the United Nations by Bill Clinton. Montoya has been on the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty. Montoya’s foremost issue is housing. She endeavors to remove barriers to home ownership and pointed to the high percentage of people who rent in Dallas. Montoya hopes to prioritize the housing of first responders and teachers. She said there is a shortage of 20,000 housing units in Dallas.
On economic development, Montoya said 13 percent of Dallas has less than a 9th grade education. Montoya said Dallas needs to focus on workforce training, investing in entrepreneurs, and ensuring Dallas County Community College students have access to higher wage jobs.
McBee is a philanthropist who is dedicated to improving the quality of life better for Dallas residents. She hopes to devote more of the budget toward addressing these inefficiencies that exist in the expansive bureaucratic network of Dallas. She is an opponent of the Trinity toll road and advocates for improving the already existing road network in Dallas by enforcing higher quality standards for Dallas roads. She supports initiatives to grow the Dallas Police Department in an effort to reduce crime in the city.
Kennedy represents the Socialist Workers Party. She believes in increasing the rights of the incarcerated by ending the death penalty and holding prisons to higher standards. She also believes in offering amnesty to workers in the United States illegally without legal permission.
Johnson was not able to answer the Daily Campus’ questions. Here is his website where he describes his platform.