Our recommendation for Fort Worth mayor

Fort Worth is at an intersection. Mayoral candidate Deborah Peoples called it an abyss. The town just got a new chief of police in Neil Noakes. There will soon be a new mayor, a new town hall and a new ranking as the twelfth largest city in the country. It will also be the location of the next high profile trial of a white police officer charged with the murder of a black resident.

What Fort Worth needs now is a steady hand connected to most of its legacy, but nimble enough to face new realities. It won’t be an easy challenge, but we believe Mattie Parker will make it.

Parker is an attorney and executive director of a Fort Worth educational coalition called Cradle to Career. She was previously chief of staff for outgoing Mayor Betsy Price and received referrals from Price and former Mayor Mike Moncrief.

At 37, Parker is the youngest survivable contestant in the race, creating a can-do craze that balances her with real world political experience. Like most of her opponents, Parker prefers low taxes and well-funded public security services, but she puts forward more thorough plans to achieve these goals.

Parker comes to life when she talks about changing the bureaucratic culture at City Hall. It promotes a “Get to Yes” ethos and suggests incentives for city workers based on performance and customer focus. “We have too many rules, too many committees and not enough action,” she said during an online candidate forum hosted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

With its association with a workforce readiness program called the Tarrant To & Through Partnership, Parker has deep connections in education, another important sector.

Parker faces no fewer than nine opponents in this crowded field, three of which are serious contenders who could succeed as mayor.

Brian Byrd, 50, is an entrepreneur and doctor who is a growth driver and could help improve the city’s financial recovery. Like Parker, he wants to reverse the city’s tax base, which is heavily reliant on residential property over commercial property taxes, and suggests more incubators. He was instrumental in bringing an IDEA charter school to the Las Vegas Trail area to the west of the city.

The current city council member Ann Zadeh, 54, is a certified city and regional planner. She is right in saying that managing growth will be vital in the years to come. She points to successful redevelopment projects in her district that she believes could be replicated across the city.

A retired vice president at AT&T, Peoples, 68, has an irrepressible spirit who serves the city well. Peoples is the current leader of the Tarrant County Democratic Party. She lost the mayor’s race in 2019 against the four-year-old incumbent Price by 14 percentage points. People said the city was changing as it grew and was ready for advanced solutions to problems like crime, housing and transit.

Also at the start are the educator Daniel “DC” Caldwell, 36; Marketing Coordinator Mylene George; Businessman Mike Haynes, 32; IT professional Cedric C. Kanyinda, 35; Real estate agent Steve Penate, 37; and author Chris Rector. Leroy Scott has withdrawn.

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