David Blewett earned his Dallas City Council District 14 seat June 8, 2019, beating incumbent Philip Kingston in a runoff. Sworn in 11 days later, it’s been a first year like no other for the rookie councilman.
“When I consulted with previous office holders, neighborhood leaders and city staffers about what to expect, they said, ‘It’s like drinking from a fire hose,’” says Blewett. “They were wrong. It’s like drinking from two fire hoses. It comes at you hard and fast.”
Blewett reflects on his freshman year.
What has been your biggest surprise?
The biggest surprise is the amount of work that must go through the City Council. There is a constant influx of zoning and development cases to be worked up. Every contract with the city over $50,000 must be vetted and voted on. Every committee has a book of projects they are working on to improve the city. All of this work results in hundreds of pages of reading and numerous community and city staff meetings on a weekly basis.
What are you most proud of?
There is no manual to do this job and each council member must decide how best to do it. I am proud of how quickly I ramped up my learning curve. After I was sworn in last June, Council went on summer break. I did not. I scheduled hundreds of meetings throughout the district and studied all the pending projects so that by last August, I was able to navigate all the D14 issues.
What is your biggest disappointment?
The biggest disappointment is that everything is political, and there are few clean victories. With every vote, someone is disappointed, and someone is happy. These votes tend to overshadow the real accomplishments of a council member. Every day in my office we receive dozens of complaints for every imaginable issue. We constantly solve these issues without any of it making the newspaper.
What would you change tomorrow if you could?
We must have neighborhood representation like we do with our 14-1 Council system while promoting a more holistic view of the entire city. Many of our biggest issues are citywide issues: synchronized street lights, public safety, workforce housing, homelessness, etc. Most council members have to focus our attention primarily on our own districts.
What is the biggest neighborhood challenge?
The greatest neighborhood challenge is short-term rentals. We have numerous party houses that are out of control throughout the district. They are operating as businesses in residential areas and disrupting the lifestyle of those who have chosen to build their lives in the neighborhoods.
What is your biggest regret?
My biggest regret is that I did not build a better relationship with Philip Kingston after the election. He is my direct predecessor, he understands the job, and I think he could be helpful navigating these challenging times.
Are you going to run for another term?
I am 100 percent running for another term. It took a few months to get the rhythm and system of Council down. I have great staff and relationships with neighborhood leaders. We were doing good work, and then COVID, protests downtown and the economic shutdown took the last six months away from us as we had to react to all of the disruption. I am in a good place to do the most good for the district now, and I look forward to helping our district and Dallas recover from recent events and begin to grow again.
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