The Renaissance Man
By: Jackie Hardy, NDG Contributing Writer
Dallas City Council election is May 6 and voters will go to the poll to determine seats in all 14 Districts comprising the city council board. District 4 candidates include incumbent Carolyn King Arnold and former Dallas City Councilmember Dwaine Caraway.
Caraway successfully held four two-year terms from 2007 to 2015. According to the City of Dallas website, council members who satisfy the eight-year maximum term, are unable to seek re-election until one City Council term has passed. Caraway has met the requirement and thus he formally announced back in February his intention to run for his old Place 4 seat.
Caraway shared with North Dallas Gazette via a phone interview the reasons why he’s running again in the upcoming May election.
“I am very much invested in this community. I am a stakeholder. I live in District 4 as well as my Mother, so it matters greatly to me to see this community thrive“ he adds.
Caraway claimed his running against incumbent Arnold is nothing personal, as he played an integral part in helping her win the seat back in 2015. But, he feels the progress the District gained while he was in office has significantly stalled. According to Caraway, constituents have asked him to run again.
“My responsibility to my constituents in which I served and did a tremendous job serving is to make sure the momentum continued from when I left office. Unfortunately, it has come to a screeching halt,“ Caraway exclaims regarding his reason for throwing his hat back into the ring.
Experience makes a difference
Caraway believes his strong pedigree in city government distinguishes him from Arnold.
“For the Council to elevate me to Deputy Pro-Tem, Mayor Pro-Tem, and Mayor meant that they believed in me and that I was capable of crossing all political lines. I bring about results and people listen and trust me,” Caraway affirms with respect to his proven track record as a leader when serving on the Dallas City Council Board.
City of Dallas offices/committees Caraway has served include Interim Mayor (2011); Deputy Mayor Pro-Tem (2007-2009); Mayor Pro-Tem (2009-2011); Public Safety Committee (Chairperson); South Dallas Fair Park Trust Board (Chairperson); and Park and Recreations Board (Vice Chair).
Caraway has also held and/or currently serving on the following civic and community boards: NAACP, Dallas Branch (former President); Kappa Alpha Psi (member); Cotillion Idlewild Club (former Chairperson); Cedar Crest Neighborhood Association (board member); City of Dallas Youth Commission (member); and Habitat for Humanity (volunteer).
In addition to Caraway’s public and community service involvements, he is most proud of his work with the Dallas Youth Council; an organization that provides 100 percent sponsorships to high school students by granting them the opportunity to experience college tours in the effort to promote higher education.
“I have had 18 summit college tours where over 3,000 students are given the opportunity to travel to different colleges and travel beyond their neighborhoods to see other opportunities,“ adds Caraway.
Pay the police and fire pension
One of the hot-button issues being discussed in this election cycle is the Dallas Police and Fire Pension (DPFP) System funding crisis. The Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) is a benefit within the pension plan that allows members who have passed their retirement date to continue working beyond the point of retirement and transfer their retirement benefits to a separate DROP account that receives a guaranteed rate of return. Currently, Dallas City officials are challenging the pension system as it’s in danger of reportedly becoming insolvent in the next 10 years.
In a recently published survey, Caraway indicated support for the City honoring the original agreement established under the DPOP plan, as well as he believes the City needs to work with the Police and Fire Retirement Board to collectively resolve the issue in the effort to present a solution before the State.
If elected, Caraway hopes to tackle issues affecting his constituents particularly in the areas of public safety, education and economic development.
Crime on the rise in the district
Per a 2016 Dallas Police Department Report, homicides in 2016 increased by 26 percent from 2015 and violent crimes increased by 11 percent. There has also been an exodus of police officers leaving the Dallas Police force creating additional challenges for the department with respect to combating crime.
“The crime rate is up, streets are bad and are getting worse and the things we put in motion have simply stopped. We are losing ground and the drug dealers and prostitutes are walking the streets and taking back over what we cleaned up and took out,“ adds Caraway in regards to his assessment of the present condition of Place 4.
Caraway feels better training for police officers and more police directives are immediate solutions to the crime infestation taking place in the neighborhoods he hopes to be able to serve once again.
“There’s a Fina gas station on Overton and Bonnie View Road that has a problem with gangs, drug dealing, and prostitution and at one point we had police cameras, which are no longer visible there, that pointed straight across the street in the direction of the car wash and the store. There are no cameras there today,” Caraway advises.
“The problem must be eradicated and some different tactics need to be used in order to eradicate the problem by getting the police more involved,“ he describes.
He also feels strong HOAs and better job opportunities for ex-offenders are some other effective ways in helping to eliminate crime. Caraway believes when we empower and educate the community we are able to create strong and secure neighborhoods.
“We have to educate our folks, but we have to first make them feel safe enough to want to come in and take pride back into the community in which they live.”
Address Dallas ISD issues
Caraway also hopes to improve code enforcement for schools, expressing concerns about the physical conditions of many of the schools in District 4.
“From a City Council perspective, I want facilities to be upstanding facilities that my citizens, as those students are my citizens, have a safe environment in which they can go to get their education.“
According to Caraway, the lead and asbestos issues in which many District 4 schools are plagued with, he strongly feels are a responsibility of the Council member representing the District and must be addressed to ensure all students are safe.
Caraway emphasized matters, for example, relating to the school curriculum, hiring, administration, budgeting;are matters that fall under the oversight of the Dallas Independent School District.
Jump-start economic development in District 4
Caraway feels economic development within the District is stagnate and he thinks more can be done to bring additional restaurants, shopping centers and entertainment venues to the southern sector.
“I would like to see a Tinseltown Movie Theater in our area. We have to go to Lancaster, Cedar Hill and Oak Cliff is big enough to have a movie theater,“ he proclaims.
Under his stewardship, Caraway stresses public safety would remain a priority with the entertainment establishments he’s proposing (i.e. movie theater) as he advised a “no loitering ordinance“ would be enforced to ensure optimal safety of the residents.
Pursuing economic development initiatives that support the diversity of retail and restaurant establishments is something Caraway feels will attract and retain local patronage of its District 4 residents.
“I want to bring more economic development in the Village Fair Shopping Center, where we can have sit down restaurants and where customers can go in and have a diverse dining experience.” he suggests.
“There’s a mix match from what I see on the other side of the freeway and why can’t we have those same amenities,” a question Caraway poses with respect to bringing more economic development to his District.
During his tenure as a City Council member, Caraway felt his District was moving forward, but now he is concerned things are moving in the opposite direction under Arnold’s care.
“I want to restore integrity and ensure a better quality of life for our future generation,” he concludes.
For more campaign information on Dwaine Caraway, voters can visit the following social media sites and websites: