Paula Blackmon, Dallas City Council member for District 9, was elected just last year, but she is no stranger to City Hall, having served as deputy chief of staff for Mayor Tom Leppert and chief of staff for Mayor Mike Rawlings. Deep experience like that might have served her better in any other year. Blackmon knows her way around City Hall, but navigating the hallways in a pandemic amid social unrest? Different story.
“This year, we just threw the rule book out,” Blackmon said. “It was unprecedented. It was interesting. Dallas proved resilient.”
Blackmon reflects on her first year on the Council.
What has been your biggest surprise?
Since I have been around City Hall for a while and worked for two mayors, there were not any real surprises. However, I don’t think anything can prepare you for a pandemic, a looming budget crisis and social justice discussions.
What are you most proud of?
The White Rock Lake dredge study that is almost completed. We started less than a year ago, and it is almost done. This is a first and critical step in caring for White Rock Lake. We had to get an updated feasibility study to provide us a road map for this project, so I am happy this is almost completed.
What is your biggest disappointment?
Because of the pandemic, the Council and other meetings are strongly urged to meet virtually. I am a people person and like to meet face to face, so this has been a disappointment that we are not able to be together in the same room.
What would you change tomorrow if you could?
Find an effective vaccine for COVID.
What is the biggest neighborhood challenge?
We have illegal activity along our neighboring city borders — homeless encampments, drug activity, dumping of trash, short-term party houses, etc. City departments, along with the neighborhood leaders, are working together to find solutions to each of these challenges. We are working with the commercial property owners to secure these areas where drug activity occurs, coordinating with the apartment owners in the area to eliminate criminal activity, engaging Office of Homeless Solutions to dissolve our encampments in area and communicate with code on violations within the area.
What is your biggest regret?
I really don’t have any regrets. I just work hard every day to do the right thing.
Are you going to run for another term?
Yes, I plan to run for my second term.
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