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Four women are vying for the District 9 Dallas City Council seat in the upcoming May 4 election. The Advocate sent candidates Erin MoorePaula Blackmon, Tamara Brown and Sarah Lamb questionnaires to help you get to know them and their policies. 

The second in this series of interviews features Paula Blackmon, a 25-year resident of East Dallas. Blackmon has served as deputy chief of staff to former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and senior advisor to Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles. She was also the campaign manager for Larry Casto’s mayoral bid until he withdrew from the race Jan. 18. Visit paulabforcouncil.com for more information.

Interviews with the remaining candidates will be posted throughout the week. Read the first edition featuring Erin Moore here.

1. Where do you live?

My family has lived in the Hillside neighborhood on Patrick Drive for the past 25 years.

2. Where do your kids go to school?

My husband Barry and I have three sons. Our oldest son, Aaron, is graduating from Texas Tech University in May and will be working for Lockheed Martin. Evan is a junior at Woodrow Wilson High School, and our youngest son, Reid, is a freshman at Woodrow Wilson High School. Our weekends are typically spent watching our two high school sons play basketball alongside our friends in the Woodrow community!

3. Bulky trash pickup: yay or nay?

Yay

4. Pet peeve code compliance violation?

Leaving trash cans on the curb for too long and high weeds in yards

5. Go-to neighborhood restaurant?

We are fortunate to have so many local neighborhood restaurants in East Dallas, and I think that is one of the greatest things about our community. Some of my favorites are The Heights, Local Traveler, 1 & 10 (before it closed), White Rock Coffee (best cappuccino), Taco Joint and Hello Dumpling.

6. Most underrated city board or commission?

Tossup between Community Development Commission or Ethics Commission

7. Opinion of your predecessor?

Council member (Mark) Clayton is a good man with a good heart. He served his community well as a council member, and I am grateful for the important work he did by bringing more economic opportunity to our neighborhoods and his attention to the homeless. He always has had a listening ear and has been a level voice on the Council.

8. What does it mean to “dredge” White Rock Lake? Does it need to be dredged?

White Rock Lake must be dredged, and it is going to be a timely and costly commitment, but we must do it. White Rock Lake is the soul of East Dallas, and we must preserve it as a public, open space with no development around it. When on Council, I will work with my colleagues and City staff to secure the funding necessary to dredge the lake, meaning removing the silt in our lake that has accumulated over 20 years from the development upstream (Frisco, Richardson, North Dallas). Working alongside City staff and community leaders, I will create a short-term (1-3 year), mid-term (3-5 year) and long-term (5-10 year) plan so that everyone understands the financial and logistical commitments that it takes to take care of our public park.

9. What is the council member’s role in 3G going forward?

TxDOT is moving forward with Option 2 at the 3G intersection, and the City has approved the necessary land acquisition to begin this construction. The next City Council member for District 9 will need to work with TxDOT to ensure that the project is completed on time and is being consistent with the work that is described in the public-input process, hitting major milestones to ensure limited inconveniences are experienced by those passing through and, of course, within budget. Also, we need to prioritize proper communication throughout the project so that drivers know the construction timeline and process.

10. Why are our streets so hard to drive on? How can they be fixed?

Plain and simple: Our infrastructure has not been maintained. The voters passed a bond package, but only 8 percent of it has been spent. We must work with staff to bring more projects online so our streets can be repaired.

11. Have you ever called 311? What happened?

I have not called 311, but I am excited about the implementation of the 311 app!

12. Biggest waste of tax dollars?

In some cases, when governments create budgets, layering tends to happen versus looking at each line item and asking questions like, Is this a core function? What is the ROI? Is this a benefit to the organization? Are we duplicating functions in another department? As a member of Council, this is the approach I would take in creating the City budget. For example, can Public Affairs and Outreach be combined with Strategic Partnerships to get the same outcomes? Can the Resiliency Office merge with Public and Urban Design since functions tend to be the same? Does Grant Administration warrant $1.2 million, or can we create an office to manage all contracts and partnerships and move that cost for that task since the City needs more oversight on its agreements? Looking at items in a micro way will give relief for the short term. We need to look at the budget at a macro level and be thoughtful in the items we fund.

13. Best place the City could spend money but isn’t?

Bringing more small businesses into our communities that lack major economic development. We should invest in small businesses with economic incentives because this will grow our economy and shift the tax burden from our homeowners to commercial.


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