Highland Hills resident Subrina Lynn Brenham is in a race against time, and some forces beyond her control, to attract votes for the city council seat for Dallas City Council, District 8.
Brenham, who owns Highland Hills Beauty Supply and income tax services company, Subrina’s Tax Services, is running against third-year incumbent City Councilman Tennell Atkins.
Atkins currently serves District 8 – a large area nestled between Loop 12 and Wintergreen Road, which is south of Interstate Highway 20. Its western-most border is South Cockrell Hill Road; its eastern border stretches just past Lasater Road.
Recently, Brenham called police to file a report, alleging vandalism of her campaign signs. Brenham says she drove past a few locations where her signs were posted earlier and noticed they were either gone or lying face down on the ground.
One of these locations was the House of Persimmon property, located at 3245 Simpson Stuart Road. Property manager, Brandy Kemp, says she is not certain what happened to the sign.
“Yes, we had one at our property. It was here the weekend before we left and when we came back it was gone,” Kemp.
Brenham says she has her suspicions that someone who supports or is part of Atkins’ campaign is to blame; but admits there is no proof.
“I don’t feel good about people vandalizing my signs because that’s a matter of disrespect and a matter of having no morals or integrity.” Brenham says, adding “It’s just unprofessional.”
In any case, Brenham says she is determined not to let the campaign sign incidents distract her from her real mission: to attract voters. For the remainder of the campaign, Brenham plans to canvass District 8 neighborhoods, knocking on doors, putting up more campaign signs and posters and sending out mailers.
A major reason for her desire to run for District 8, stems from issues in Brenham’s own neighborhood – Highland Hills.
Brenham says Councilman Atkins promised the neighborhood a mini-grocery store with fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead, she says, it got a gas station with a mini mart. A beauty supply store that competes with her own business, according to Brenham, also opened.
Highland Hills resident, Clara McDade, says she is also disappointed with the gas station/mini mart.
“The store is supposed to have fresh fruits and vegetables. But the fruits and vegetables aren’t fresh,” says McDade, adding this forces Highland Hills residents to drive or take the bus seven or more miles from their area to shop for food.
“We’re tired of the fact that he (Atkins) knows what’s going on but will not reveal anything until the last minute to his constituents and then the next thing we know, we’ve got a business coming into our community that we don’t want,” McDade says.
But the issue of the grocery store is only a part of the problem, McDade says. The neighborhood, has not seen or heard anything from Atkins on other items, including a progress report on a new library promised to the Highland Hills area according to Brenham. Voters approved a 2006 bond election package that included funding for design and land acquisition for the proposed library for just over $950,000. According to city documents, construction funding for the library was not included in the 2006 bond election. City public information officer, Frank Librio says funding for the construction was established from savings of projects included in the 2006 bond program library proposition – primarily savings from land acquisitions – in the amount of $6 million.
The root of the problem, Brenham says, is a lack communication and transparency between the community and Atkins’ office – a problem she aims to change.
“I will answer questions from my constituents while we are in our Town Hall meetings or whatever function is taking place and if I don’t have the answer I will research and give them an answer in a timely manner. I will never interrupt a person or cut them short just to evade answering any questions,” Brenham says. “I will not leave the meeting before it’s over to keep from answering questions from my constituents. I will not mislead my constituents into thinking that something is going to take place and (it doesn’t). Most of all, I … want to know my constituents.”
Brenham is quite familiar with the District 8 area. The 50-year-old entrepreneur attended Bishop Heights Elementary School, graduated from Wilmer Hutchins High School, and completed her education at Paul Quinn College. From 1997 to 2001, Brenham taught elementary school in the Dallas Independent School District, first at John W. Carpenter Elementary School and then at Umphrey Lee Elementary School. During this time she also did income taxes for family, friends and neighbors in the area.
“While teaching elementary school, my home business became very successful as an income tax professional. So I decided to open my own income tax service (in 2002),” she says.
Brenham opened her beauty supply store three years ago.
If elected, Brenham pledges to work with Mayor Rawlins’ office in its implementation of the Grow South initiative – an economic development plan designed to improve the city’s South Side through improvements to education, library facilities, neighborhoods, green space, transportation and roadways.
But winning against an incumbent may not be easy. McDade, who met Brenham at Paul Quinn College and who serves as Brenham’s adviser, says she learned this herself. McDade lost her own bid for the city council seat for District 8 in 2005 against James Fantroy and Al Lipscomb. But, McDade says, if her sentiments mirror those of other District 8 residents, Brenham may have a shot.
Referencing Atkins’ comments in a DallasNew.com blog, McDade says she does not support someone who does not want to know its constituents.
“We’re sick and tired of those kinds of people in our community and … I want him out of there whatever it takes,” says McDade.
Atkins did not respond to repeated calls or emails from the North Dallas Gazette for comment by press time.