What it means for Fort Worth to have a younger city council
Whether they realize it or not, voters in Fort Worth have dramatically changed city council.
When the winners of the second round are sworn in on Tuesday, two-thirds of the members will be new. Mayor-elect Mattie Parker will be the youngest leader of a major American city at 37. But the advice overall will be much younger too: As noted by former board member Joel Burns and her husband, political strategist JD Angle, the average age of members will drop from 60 to around 46.
This could change the council’s priority issues and create common ground on long-term challenges such as transportation and policing. But with so much inexperience, the board could also go through a difficult period of adjustment.
“What this tells me is that there is an active and engaged youth in our community, and that’s a good thing,” said Michael Crain, the new District 3 representative. “This will bring news. fresh ideas… that will help solve our problems. “
Crain, 49, pointed out with a laugh that because he won without a second round and took office before other newcomers, he is already fourth in seniority on the board.
Several new members also noted that more of them have young children than their predecessors, predicting it would give them similar perspectives on the city’s future.
“Politically we may not see through the same lens, but on the family structure we see the same thing, having to balance the family, balance the school, balance the family life,” said Chris Nettles, 33, who won the seat of District 8 in eastern Fort Worth. “We will focus on education and resources to get young people involved in the community.
DIVERSITY AS A STRENGTH
Jared williams, who narrowly won District 6 over longtime incumbent Jungus Jordan and will be the youngest rep at 31, said the increased diversity on the board would be a strength.
“Educators, small businesses, people with young families – this incredible diversity on our board and the reflection of our city will lead to some really strong decisions,” he said.
Overall, the new board will be more progressive, thanks in large part to Williams’ victory and Nettles ousting titular Kelly Allen Gray. It’s worth noting that in both cases the losing candidates were backed by the Fort Worth Police Officers Association Political Committee, one of the campaign’s biggest spenders in local races. Elsewhere, the group’s candidates did well.
Nettles said that on his first day in office he planned to ask council members to sign a letter asking Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson to lobby for a cabinet. trial date for Aaron Dean. This is the former police officer charged with the murder of Atatiana Jefferson, who he shot dead in his own home in 2019. Nettles also said he wanted the council to consider creating a civil review board for police surveillance, as Race and Culture Working Group who examined the disparities in the recommended city.
The council will also be tested by redistributing neighborhoods once a decade. It’s always controversial, because it puts the future of politicians at stake. It will help for the council to add two districts, but concerns about power and fairness can be divisive.
ASSISTANCE TO THE UNSERVED
But a new approach could also lead to a greater focus on long neglected parts of Fort Worth. Each council member needs to prioritize their district, but there is growing momentum to help underserved communities that need better transportation, health care and employment opportunities.
Declaring a “deep and daring sense of hope,” Williams said the new council would take us one step closer to becoming a world-class city.
For Parker, who will be under scrutiny as the city’s first new mayor in a decade, the stakes for the functioning of the council are high. She will have to convince the board members and make compromises. To see the political dangers for a young mayor of quickly siding with fellow council members, just look as far as Dallas, where Mayor Eric Johnson faced complaints of brutal treatment.
An important step will be to reflect the diversity of the council in the appointment of the mayor pro tempore and the deputy mayor pro tem. These positions are not particularly powerful or noteworthy, but one of them chairs the meetings in the absence of the mayor. Council veterans Gyna Bivens and Carlos Flores would be great choices.
Fort Worth is a young city, with a higher proportion of children in its population than the state or nation as a whole. Come Tuesday, his government will reflect that.
“People in their 30s and 40s think differently than those in their 60s,” Nettles said. “When you’re in your sixties, you don’t have the same problems. “
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Editorials are the positions of the Editorial Board, which serves as the institutional voice of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The members of the board are: Cynthia M. Allen, columnist; Steve Coffman, editor and president; Bud Kennedy, columnist; Juan Antonio Ramos, editorial director of La Estrella, the bilingual publication of the Star-Telegram; and Ryan J. Rusak, opinion writer. Most editorials are written by Rusak and edited by Coffman. Editorials are unsigned because they represent the consensus positions of the board, not the views of individual writers.
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