Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced Tuesday he’ll seek a second term. He won’t back away from a pair of controversial positions that drew harsh criticism during his first four years.
Those two issues? Education, for one, in his strong support for Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles, and the controversial home-rule effort that could change the way Dallas schools are run. The charter wasn’t ready for November’s election, which may have doomed it.
“Look, if we’re going to transform our school system, you have to change teachers, you have to change principals, you have to change administration and you have to make sure your governance system is set up the optimal way,” Rawlings said.
The mayor also continued to embrace the Trinity River Parkway, the 9-mile toll road critics are still challenging. Rawlings says the Trinity must be developed the right way or south Dallas – another of his priorities - will never reach its potential. Some say an upcoming Trinity design summit he’s behind is an attempt to save the project.
“The right way is to make sure that massive beautiful piece of property serves all of Dallas,” Rawlings said. “To make sure it has economic growth it has quality of life growth, it helps us mobility-wise, and weaves north Dallas, south Dallas families together.”
Rawlings also wants to keep marketing the Dallas arts district and other assets to the world.
“We need to be a place where great creative people come and live because of the arts and culture we have in this city and I want to reach out throughout the globe and get a bigger market share of that growth. People don’t know about DFW and they want to come and be part of this city of prosperity and I want to focus on that as well,” the mayor said.
Rawlings was first elected in 2011. The next mayor’s election is May 2015.
Rawlings is a former Pizza Hut executive.
Rawlings's staff has freshened up his campaign website, touting the way he handled Dallas' response to the Ebola cases this fall:
In September of 2014, Dallas emerged again on a world stage as the U.S.’s first case of Ebola was diagnosed. Working around the clock with the Center For Disease Control, the Texas Department of Health, Dallas County Health and The White House, Mayor Rawlings was critical to creating a health strategy that limited the spread of the illness, and a communications strategy that encouraged calm caution. With care and compassion, the outbreak was quickly contained, and Mayor Rawlings set forth a blueprint for how future cities may deal with a similar crisis.
Rawlings will be a heavy favorite to win to re-election in May, though he will likely garner some opposition. So far only attorney Marcos Ronquillo and City Hall gadfly Richard Sheridan have taken preliminary official steps toward running for the office.
While most political observers have said Rawlings would likely have a sizable mandate this time around – as opposed to his runoff victory from a crowded field in 2011 – there’s no guarantee his job would get easier.
Earlier this year, Rawlings spoke with NPR about Dallas: “We're like a young adult now as a city and we've got a lot of energy, a fair amount of testosterone, and we've got a lot of tough issues to deal with. And I'm confident we will. But it's an interesting place. If you want an exciting place to live and work, you know, Dallas is the place to be now.”