With eight council district seats open, Fort Worth is preparing for an unprecedented number of candidates to run on the May 1 general election. District 2 encompasses the heavily Hispanic Northside community. Recently opened Mule Alley in the Stockyards is positioning District 2 to remain a strong tourist destination. The tight-knit Northside area, whose families have called Fort Worth home for many generations, has learned to rely on one another during the ongoing pandemic. Four candidates are vying to represent this culturally rich part of town.
District 2 Councilmember Carlos Flores (CarlosFloresFWD2.com), who was elected to city council in 2017, is a third-generation Fort Worth native, engineer, and active member of several civic boards. Candidate Jen Sarduy (SarduyForDistrict2.com) is the cofounder of Re+Birth Equity Alliance, a Fort Worth-based nonprofit organization that supports birth justice for marginalized communities across Texas. Sarduy, a queer Black parent, is passionate about people and their capacity to thrive when equitably resourced and connected
Juan Sixtos (Sixtos4FW.com) is an engineer and Fort Worth native. He described himself as a “proud Texan” with a keen interest in civic duty. He is a self-described Christian family man. Theodore O’Conor Gray was born and raised in the Republic of Liberia, West Africa. He relocated to the United States after fleeing the Liberian Civil War. He owns a non-emergency medical transportation company and is a husband and “proud parent” of three boys.
We sent all four candidates the same two questions.
What would you like to see the city as a whole improve upon and how will you reach those goals?
Flores: I would like to see the city continue improving upon the city’s homelessness programs and initiatives. Persons experiencing homelessness may face persistent issues such as drug use, mental health problems, chronic illness, and disabilities. The most effective way to address homelessness is to combine housing and services with our agency partners. I continue to pursue those goals by finding more opportunities for permanent supportive housing. I would also like to see the city prepare for a post-COVID-19 world by working with the city manager and staff to find ways to plan for and avoid budget shortfalls while keeping our obligations to keep critical city services operating, funding neighborhood revitalization initiatives, adding police officers and firefighters, and [supporting] needed city resources & facilities.
Gray: I would like to see our beloved city of Forth Worth improve upon the following: primary and secondary education in under-privileged communities, police/community relationship, and property taxes. When I am a city councilmember, I plan to seek a meeting with our school district superintendent and collaborate on plans to improve education in all communities. [I will] reach out to our new police chief and other community leadership in an effort to improve police/community relationships. Finally, if my community property taxes [become] unaffordable, I plan to reach out to the tax office. I will collaborate on plans to make property tax affordable to all individuals. Above all, I would like to see my city becomes the agent of change.
Sarduy: The 2021 council and mayoral races provide an opportunity for Fort Worth to redefine the ways we work together. Working with other candidates, our communities, artists, and community activists, we can demand an end to politics as usual. People are already creating and implementing the solutions they need. We are winning grassroots power by getting elected to seats that enable us to redistribute resources to our communities and invest in what truly makes us safer together.
Sixtos: Fort Worth should increase funding for public safety [by developing] proper and up-to-date training tactics and investing in new tools and non-lethal weapons for police (while still allowing officers to carry a firearm for when absolutely necessary) and [developing] a system of [deescalation] for inadvertent errors. The city also needs to improve communication and transparency to foster continued economic growth. Fort Worth needs to continue reducing taxes (by eliminating wasteful spending) while supporting park and historical preservation, beautification city-wide, support for small businesses, support for our veterans, limiting government overreach, protecting religious liberty, and supporting our animal safe havens. I will work together with the other city councilmembers to address these concerns.
Describe the unique needs of District 2 and what you would focus on improving as a city councilmember.
Gray: No reply.
Flores: Police and community relations need to be improved upon. As Councilmember for District 2, I supported the establishment of the Office of Police Oversight, which responds in matters concerning police conduct and investigations for greater accountability. The police should reflect the communities they serve. I supported and voted to increase the recruitment budget and efforts to attract additional qualified Hispanic, African American, and Asian applicants for the Fort Worth Police Department and training for current and new officers. [We should] continue to find ways to fund infrastructure improvements in both inner and rapidly growing outer city areas. Public-Private partnerships are a practical means to achieve this. Projects funded this way can be found in District 2 and across the city. I support and make fiscally responsible decisions to budget for further capital improvement programs. [We should] encourage the right kind of economic development and job opportunities to assist District 2 communities. I organized a job fair to assist residents in collaboration with the Texas Workforce Commission, TEXRail and several North Texas companies and plan for more. Create incentives for small businesses and resources with the Chambers of Commerce.
Sarduy: District 2 is a diverse, working-class district that faces new and historical barriers to access every year. We are prepared for brave leadership, and our community excels at creating its own solutions when equitably resourced. My campaign is representative of our district: working-class and motivated. We worked together to develop a four-point platform that outlines our priorities and new protections around some of the most important issues facing District 2 right now. Growth, not gentrification: We can invest in our communities without displacement. Collaboration, not clout: We can make City Hall work for us. Justice, Not Jails: We can transform public safety in Fort Worth. Housing, not harassment: We can end homelessness in Fort Worth.
Sixtos: District 2 is in desperate need of decreasing response time from first responders as well as increased community involvement to further reduce crime rates and house fires in the district. In addition, there has not been enough investment in roadway infrastructure, which has led to congestion problems and increased delays. By developing a sustainable road policy, this will reduce costs to residents. There is a need for a liaison between community groups and code compliance for more direct communication to address areas of concern within the district. The master plan for the remaining undeveloped property in the district needs to be redesigned for best utilization. The councilmember for District 2 should be an ambassador for constituents and ensure their concerns are addressed. I would devote my time as a city councilmember focusing on these much-needed areas for the district.
This article was updated to include responses from Councilmember Flores.