Council and DISD candidates have their say at forum

A packed crowd was eager for the rare chance this election season to see the candidates face off and give their positions. Many of those vying to represent East Dallas on the City Council or school board of trustees took part in the Wednesday evening forum, sponsored by Vickery Place Neighborhood Association.

Candidates were given three minutes to have their say, before taking a seat at tables around the library auditorium, where audience members could ask questions.

Matt Wood, who is seeking the District 14 seat on the Dallas City Council, said he was for the “usuals” like safe neighborhoods and fixing potholes. His chief difference from incumbent Philip Kingston, Wood says, is his approach.

“He’d really rather spend a whole lot of time looking for TV cameras and posting to Twitter,” Wood says of Kingston. Wood said he did not approve of Kingston’s “abrasive” way of dealing with city staff and other council members, adding that he’s “Someone who has become kind of a loose cannon.”

Another District 14 challenger, downtown resident Kim Welch, spent most of his three minutes sharing his biography, including growing up in Dallas before moving to New York and back. “I’m telling you all of this because I don’t have the same experience those other politicians do,” Welch said of the other candidates in the forum. “This is my first foray into politics.”

Welch added that he is for trails and parks, and thinks the “Police department has been decimated in our city. If we don’t have the safety or stability, people won’t move here…”

Kingston did not attend the forum (at least not the first hour when speeches were made, although he may have showed up to answer questions after the Advocate left).

No one from Council District 9’s race could attend, but incumbent Mark Clayton and challenger Arthur Adams, Jr. have both been invited to a similar event on April 18 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Lake Highlands Baptist Church.

Both the incumbent and challenger attended in the Dallas ISD board of trustees race for District 2, which covers a donut shape around the Park Cities, including parts of East Dallas. Dustin Marshall first claimed the seat last June in a tight run-off election.

“I’ve been serving for nine months and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot done,” Marshall said, listing his efforts to bring homeless drop-in centers to every high school campus, changes to the school’s suspension program and how school transfers are handled. “There’s more I’d like to do.”

His challenger Lori Kirkpatrick was quick to point out that she and her daughter, a Lakewood Elementary second-grader, were both products of public education, while Marshall and his children have been educated at private schools.

“I am invested in DISD,” she said.

She said her other main difference from her opponent is school reform, largely known as the effort to promote vouchers versus traditional public education funding. “My opponent has admitted to being pro education reform,” she said, adding that she is staunchly against it. “[School reform] is a movement for the sole purpose to dismantle public schools.”

Spring elections in our neighborhood tend to draw minimal crowds, which means the races could be tight this year. Early voting runs April 24-May 2 (find polling locations and times here) while the general election is set for May 6.

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