On May 12, we will make a choice. Who do we want for our next mayor?
Central Dallas had decided to invite the top 7 mayorial candidates to Turner Courts and Roseland Homes so that they would have the opportunity to dialogue with people who usually get left out of the conversation.
I was excited about the opportunity. Central Dallas has a lot of clout these days and even though this same opportunity probably wouldn't have taken place had it been left up to the candidates to organize it, I was grateful that we at Central Dallas were using our "power" to facilitate an event like this.
However, by 2:00 yesterday, I was very disappointed.
We had found out the day before that only 2 candidates had planned to come to Turner Courts. The rest had all opted to go to Roseland Homes (a public housing development, but one that is in a very "safe" area for the candidates...economic development and nicely constructed town homes exist all over the Roseland/City Place area. The Hope VI grant has refurbished the entire Dallas Housing Authority area). The candidates had chosen to go to an area, though still in need of some work, that is very plush compared to Turner Courts.
Figuring if they wouldn't come to us, we'd go to them, we (Turner Courts) decided to visit them on their "turf" at Roseland. At 1:30, we all packed up and made the trek over to Roseland for the meeting at 2:00.
Only Sam Coats showed up on time.
And not only was Mr. Coats at Roseland, Mr. Coats evidently hadn't gotten the message and had gone to Turner Courts first.
THANK YOU, Mr. Coats! Thank you for valuing us enough to come out...to both places...on time!
Gary Griffith did show up about 15-20 minutes after we had started and stayed the remainder of the time.
No other candidates showed up.
Both men seemed like fine men. I'm sure the other 5 are fine men as well. But it says something to me when they do not acknowledge our worth and value enough to show up...or even call for that matter. If the meeting had been scheduled in a wealthy part of Dallas with potential campaign contributors where there is a higher percentage of voter turnout, would they have shrugged off that meeting as well...no matter what their schedule looked like? I tend to think not.
At one point in the discussion, Mr. Coats asked the audience (of maybe 30 people) who was registered to vote. I wonder if he was surprised when nearly every hand went up.
Perhaps if people had a reason to think they were valued, if they had a reason to think that the city works for them, too, perhaps they would vote. Perhaps if the candidates did make more of an effort to go into low-income communities and ask the people what city services are lacking (explaining what the mayor does and doesn't have authority over so that we target our requests and statements), maybe then people would see that their voice is a part of the conversation as well.
Before our meeting I had looked over the candidates and each of their platforms. I had made some tentative decisions of who I thought might be working in our best interests. After yesterday, my tentative decisions changed. It's one thing to put a good platform in the paper. It's a completely different thing to actually show up.
Actions speak much louder than words.
Note: The same 7 who were invited to speak with us have also been invited to be at our Prayer Breakfast on April 26. Check out the link and come join us!