The Dallas Morning News

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Parker for Fort Worth mayor

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Fort Worth is at a crossroads. Mayoral candidate Deborah Peoples called it a precipice. The city just got a new police chief in Neil Noakes. It soon will have a new mayor, a new city hall, and a new ranking as the nation’s 12th-largest city. It will also be the site of the next high-profile trial of a white police officer charged with killing a Black resident.

What Fort Worth needs now is a steady hand with connection to the greatest parts of its legacy but nimble enough to face new realities. It won’t be an easy challenge, but it’s one we think Mattie Parker is up to.

Parker is an attorney and chief executive of a Fort Worth education coalition called Cradle to Career. She previously served as chief of staff to outgoing Mayor Betsy Price and has received endorsemen­ts from Price as well as former Mayor Mike Moncrief.

At 37, Parker is the youngest viable candidate in this race, which lends to a can-do enthusiasm that she balances with realworld policy experience. Like most of her opponents, Parker favors low taxes and well-funded public safety services, but she presents more thorough plans to achieve those goals.

Parker comes to life when she talks about changing the bureaucrat­ic culture at City Hall. She promotes a “get to yes” ethos and proposes incentives for city employees based on performanc­e and client focus.

“We have too many rules, too many committees, and not enough action,” she said during an online candidate forum hosted by the Fort Worth Star-telegram.

With her connection to a workforce readiness program called Tarrant To & Through Partnershi­p, Parker has deep connection­s in education, another critical sector.

Parker faces no fewer than nine opponents in this crowded field, three of whom are serious contenders who also could succeed as mayor.

Entreprene­ur and physician Brian Byrd, 50, has a pro-growth mindset that could serve to improve the city’s financial recovery. Like Parker, he wants to flip the city’s tax base that relies heavily on residentia­l over commercial property taxes, and he proposes more business incubators. He was instrument­al in bringing an IDEA charter school to the Las Vegas Trail area on the city’s west side.

Current City Council member Ann Zadeh, 54, is a certified city and regional planner. She’s right when she says managing growth will be critical in the coming years. She points to successful redevelopm­ent projects in her district that she thinks could be replicated across the city.

A retired vice president at AT&T, Peoples, 68, has an irrepressi­ble spirit that serves the city well. Peoples is the current chairwoman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party. She lost the mayoral race in 2019 to four-term incumbent Price by 14 percentage points. Peoples said the city is changing as it grows and is ready for progressiv­e solutions to problems like crime, housing and transit.

Also running are educator Daniel “D.C.” Caldwell, 36; marketing coordinato­r Mylene George; businessma­n Mike Haynes, 32; IT profession­al Cedric C. Kanyinda, 35; real estate broker Steve Penate, 37; and author Chris Rector. Leroy Scott has withdrawn.

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