The runoff elections are over and the citizens have decided, and the winners are Omar Narvaez, Kevin Felder, and Tennell Atkins. Congrats to the winners. However, the biggest loser in this past election cycle is Mayor Mike Rawlings. A powerful city mayor picks his city council, and in a display of political strength in southern Dallas, Rawlings lost. Through the defeat of the incumbents, he supported and subsequently the Dallas power structure supported, Mike Rawlings, becomes a three-time loser.
The newly elected councilmen have the opportunity to work for the citizens of Dallas and move the city forward. As I stated before in “My Voice My Opinion” commentary on WFAA, there is not a shortage of problems. The only question is whether these incoming council will have the votes to make meaningful change in their communities.
Whether it is gentrification, social inequality, housing, policing, or economic disparity, the incoming council have a lot of work ahead of them. The biggest challenge will be whether the incoming councilmen of Narvaez, Felder, and Atkins will work with Mayor Rawlings. Perhaps the question will be whether Mayor Mike Rawlings will work with them. Will Dallas succumb to heated displays of northern arrogance to the concerns of its southern sector? Will the southern sector reach out for allies that can bring economic viability to their communities? Can both sides trust each other, but most all respect each other?
I have watched with dismay, the Mayor’s attempts to ridicule and silence Councilwoman Carolyn Arnold over the “Deck Park”. These displays of strength are ironic when directed to a black woman who has the nerve to oppose the mayor. The challenge for Mayor Rawlings is whether he will disrespect the newly elected black male city council members as he much as he did Councilwoman Carolyn Arnold.
The funding of “For Our Community” and the support from the mayor’s political action committee for its chosen city councilpersons is contrary to the “Dallas Spirit.” For many years this unwritten rule in the conduct of elected members of the Dallas city council prevented them from supporting candidates in contested elections.
The dye is thus set for political fireworks. There are three incoming councilmen who are not beholden to Mayor Rawlings so that’s when the fireworks will begin. The possibility of three opposing votes against the political leadership of Mayor Rawlings, only the Mayor can heal that wound. He should heal that wound not “for our community” but for our Dallas.
The irony of this past election is the elected city councilmen will take office June 19, which is Juneteenth. The election of Narvaez, Felder, and Atkins could possibly signal independence from the influence of the mayor. I certainly hope so. Whatever the case, in politics there is always fireworks, and they don’t always happen on the Fourth of July.