Local politics looked robust at a forum on March 6, when a packed house turned out to see candidates running for seats on the Dallas City Council.
Part of the "Monday Night Politics" series, the event was held in advance of a city election coming on May 6, when all 14 seats on the Dallas City Council will be up for a vote. Hosted by The Dallas Examiner and the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Dallas, and held at the African American Museum at Fair Park, the forum spotlighted two seats: Districts 3 and 7, where candidates shared their platforms and answered questions.
The auditorium holds about 400 people and was filled well beyond capacity; organizers called it one of their most well attended events. Some candidates, including District 3 incumbent Casey Thomas and District 7 challenger Adam Bazaldua, were cheered on by supporters, identifiable via candidate T-shirts.
The event lasted two hours, limiting the number of questions asked as well as the amount of time each candidate could speak. While that gave only a snapshot of the candidates' positions, the time limit turned out to be a good thing in the Q&A portion when audience members couldn't resist making statements instead of asking questions. Moderator Matt Houston did a good job reining them in.
The first session covered District 3, which is far southwest Dallas, and included incumbent Casey Thomas, plus challengers Joe Tave and Sandra Crenshaw. All three are veterans in local politics.
Joe Tave ran against Thomas for the seat in 2014. He emphasized the need for leadership, which he gently implied was missing, and promised that voters wouldn't find him consorting in North Dallas.
Sandra Crenshaw served on the City Council previously, and has run for the Texas House of Representatives twice. She alluded to her colorful history, including an arrest in 2012, and lots of interaction with D Magazine, by saying, "You can read all about me on the internet — the good, the bad, the ugly." Her pitch was her history and experience.
Casey Thomas, who deserved points for showing up, asked for more time in office and pledged that there would be "shovel-ready projects" coming to the district soon.
The second session covered District 7, which is in southeast Dallas, hugging I-30 and east of I-45. The seat is currently held by Tiffinni Young, who was a glaring no-show; when attendees questioned her absence, she blocked them.
Candidates included Adam Bazaldua, a former chef who currently teaches a culinary program for DISD. He cannily wore a chef's coat to underscore his one-of-us status. He stated that transparency was important, and that, if elected, he'd reflect the voice of his constituents. That included solving the problem of the homeless, an issue he said was "near and dear to my heart."
Marvin Crenshaw, the longtime activist whose efforts helped get the 14-seat city council structure Dallas has today, has run for office in Dallas for decades. He preached the '60s-esque message that in order to accomplish anything, the community must organize. "I feel like my time has come," he said.
Kevin Felder, a real estate broker who ran against Young in 2014 and came in second, stressed his business and financial background, and his first-person experience in all matters.
Tammy Johnson offered a brief summary of her on the street experience, including her role as president of the South Boulevard-Park Row Historic Neighborhood Association. She displayed a strong awareness of the district's issues; when questions were asked, she had concrete ideas and responses. She said she was for "smart growth," in which gentrification would not overrun local communities.
James Clyde Turknett, a radio show host and author, had a catchy acronym for his platform, "YES," standing for youth, economic development, and seniors, with special focus on youth, which he said was a priority to cultivate.
A second Monday Night Politics session will take place on March 20, and will focus on Districts 4 and 8.