Dallas, TX –
Catherine Cuellar, KERA 90.1 reporter: During the past two years, Fort Worth has been the fastest growing city in the United States, now ranking 20th-largest in the nation. Mayor Mike Moncrief, who is unchallenged in his bid for reelection, says the city's top priority must be long-range improvement of storm water drainage to maintain a high quality of life.
Mike Moncrief, Fort Worth Mayor: It requires a massive engineering project and it is going to require changes in our infrastructure. That is not cheap, and it is not something that we start in one month and a few months later, is handled. You're talking about a multi-year project, but if we don't do this, then our city is going to begin collapsing on itself.
Cuellar: Homeless assistance efforts are also a chief concern for Moncrief and Mayor Pro Tem Ralph McCloud, whose District 8 includes many shelters and service providers.
Ralph McCloud, Fort Worth Mayor Pro Tem and City Council member, District 8: While most of the homeless people reside in a particular portion of the city, it's indeed a citywide problem and a citywide issue. There's so many parts of it in terms of mental illness, in terms of children, in terms of drug addiction. All of those things are contributing factors to the issue and have to be addressed in a multi-faceted way.
Cuellar: Three people have filed to run for the seat McCloud is vacating in District 8, which runs south of I-30 along the east side of I-35. To the west, south of I-20, is District 6, where four people seek to replace Clyde Picht. Picht, who believes the council should consider term limits anyway, hopes newly elected members will learn from history.
Clyde Picht, Fort Worth City Council member, District 6: I think a new council would be less likely to make the mistakes of the garbage collection fiasco that we had, the publicly financed hotel, which were really not smart policy. I think they'll probably be a little bit more inquisitive of what goes into the policies, and that really is our role.
Cuellar: The most contested seat, with half a dozen candidates, is District 7, which includes the Cultural District, the century-old Como neighborhood, and Lake Worth. John Stevenson is leaving after a single term.
John Stevenson, Fort Worth City Council member, District 7: We have been annexing and growing my area - particularly in the northwest - very, very heavily. It's very good to have a city that's growing economically. But it puts stresses and strains on our service abilities. We're going to have to look into the future both making sure we're spending money where we should with our priorities, but we're also going to have to find additional income.
Cuellar: After 12 years, Jim Lane is resigning his District 2 post. Two people are competing in his tri-ethnic north side district, which includes the Texas Motor Speedway, the Alliance Complex and Radio Shack headquarters. Lane hopes his departure will create an opportunity for the first Latino council member in more than a decade. Lane also hopes the council will address current problems so growth continues.
Jim Lane, Fort Worth City Council member, District 2: We can't move around in Fort Worth, we have so many people. So transportation is a real issue. All those things cost, so you can either put those taxes on the back of the homeowners or you can encourage new business. And we need to continue to be very aggressive about bringing big businesses in here to Fort Worth.
Cuellar: Two current council members, Chuck Silcox of western District 3 and Wendy Davis of center city District 9, are unchallenged, along with Mayor Moncrief. Fort Worth voters can request early voting ballots by mail through April 29th. Early voting in person begins April 20th, and Election Day is May 7th.
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