We Rec­om­mend

Arnold in Dal­las City Coun­cil Dis­trict 4

The Dallas Morning News - - World -

Elec­tions are about tough choices, and some­times the op­tions aren’t the ones we would pre­fer. Such is the case in the Dis­trict 4 runoff elec­tion Tues­day to serve the un­ex­pired term of dis­graced for­mer coun­cil mem­ber Dwaine Car­away.

While we have con­cerns about both can­di­dates, our re­luc­tant nod goes to for­mer Dal­las City Coun­cil mem­ber Carolyn King Arnold over 29-year-old com­mu­nity ac­tivist Keyaira Saun­ders, who comes to this race with a thin ré­sumé.

Arnold, 65, has dis­ap­pointed us on oc­ca­sion dur­ing the two years she rep­re­sented this dis­trict. A re­tired ed­u­ca­tor and neigh­bor­hood as­so­ci­a­tion leader, Arnold suc­ceeded Car­away when the long­time coun­cil mem­ber was term-lim­ited in 2015, then lost in 2017 to the for­mer mayor pro tem, whose res­ig­na­tion and guilty plea to fed­eral cor­rup­tion charges in Au­gust led to the spe­cial elec­tion to fill the seat.

This ed­i­to­rial board dis­agreed with Arnold’s stance on a va­ri­ety of is­sues, most no­tably her ve­he­ment op­po­si­tion to the deck park over In­ter­state 35E link­ing north Oak Cliff to the Dal­las Zoo. She called it a “wreck park” and “lip­stick on a pig,” demon­strat­ing a lack of un­der­stand­ing of its im­por­tant role in the broader South­ern Gate­way project to cre­ate jobs, new in­vest­ment and im­prove prop­erty val­ues.

To her credit, Arnold helped at­tract a new Wal­mart in her Glen Oaks Cross­ing neigh­bor­hood at I-35E and Led­bet­ter, but she was less ef­fec­tive than she could have been on the coun­cil. She was most of­ten a voice of op­po­si­tion rather than a voice of vi­sion and re­newal for the dis­trict. Some­times, she sim­ply seemed con­fused about the is­sues at hand.

How­ever, we have more se­ri­ous reser­va­tions about Saun­ders’ abil­ity to gov­ern ef­fec­tively. She’s a found­ing mem­ber of the Next Gen­er­a­tion Ac­tion Net­work, a so­cial-ac­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion that has held nu­mer­ous protests and ral­lies in the past few years in the Dal­las area. While there is a role for protest, there is a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence be­tween so­cial ac­tivism on the protest line and the nuts-and-bolts du­ties of find­ing con­sen­sus as an elected of­fi­cial at the coun­cil horse­shoe.

More con­cern­ing, court records from Collin and Den­ton coun­ties in­di­cate apart­ment com­plexes have sought to evict Saun­ders in re­cent years. A mother of three chil­dren, Saun­ders said she had fallen on hard times fi­nan­cially but set­tled debts and was never evicted. None­the­less, we find this trou­bling.

Saun­ders fin­ished sec­ond be­hind Arnold in the Novem­ber gen­eral elec­tion, gar­ner­ing 17.1 per­cent of the vote to Arnold’s 25.8 per­cent in a crowded 12-per­son race. The take­away is that vot­ers want fresh, ag­gres­sive, com­mit­ted lead­er­ship. We would urge Arnold to learn from her mis­takes and em­brace a gov­ern­ing ap­proach that is so­lu­tion-ori­ented and, fail­ing that, we can only hope a new leader will emerge dur­ing the spring elec­tion when the win­ner on Tues­day will be seek­ing a full, two-year term on the coun­cil.

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