We don’t know what was stuffed inside Sal Espino’s turkey this Thanksgiving, but something about the holiday prompted the six-term Fort Worth City Council member to step aside. At 6:46 a.m. on Monday, Espino posted a statement on Facebook saying he would not be seeking a seventh term.
His term on the District 2 council seat will expire in May.
“I was going to wait until the first of the year to make a final decision,” Espino wrote. “However, after much deep reflection and thought during Thanksgiving week, the decision became clearer to me. Therefore, rather than wait, I am announcing today that I will not seek a seventh term.”
Espino was born in Mexico, raised on the North Side, and educated at TCU and SMU Law School. He owns a law firm on the North Side.
The personable Espino gets mixed reviews for his leadership. His district includes the Stockyards, and Espino has been a cheerleader for Majestic Realty Co., the California-based development company that is partnering with the Hicks family to redevelop the east end of the Stockyards. Some Stockyards enthusiasts feel that city officials, led by Espino and Mayor Betsy Price, are giving Majestic too much leeway to alter the historic district’s landscape and feel.
The fading support for Espino became apparent after the incumbent was almost beaten by a political neophyte in the 2015 race. Retired firefighter Steve Thornton lost his challenge to Espino by 26 votes out of the 2,314 that were cast.
Thornton has already announced his intention to run again in 2017. So has Jennifer Trevino, an official at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Espino is endorsing another candidate, North Side Neighborhood Association President Carlos Flores.
We will miss Espino for the most part. He is prompt at returning our phone calls and answering our questions, a trait that, as simple as it sounds, isn’t always common among city councilmembers. Espino might have swallowed the city staff’s Kool-Aid too much at times, particularly when kowtowing to Majestic Realty or to the Tarrant Regional Water District’s $1 billion plan to create a downtown lake at taxpayer expense. But he pushed hard for economic development, wasn’t afraid to stand up to the powerful police and firefighter labor groups when needed, and devoted 12 years of his life to working for and promoting his district, which is more than most people can say. His efforts are appreciated.