Dallas mayoral candidates hold first debate of runoff

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Editor’s note: This story comes from Dallas’ KERA, reported by Bill Zeeble.

In their first debate since the May 4 election, Dallas mayoral candidates Eric Johnson and Scott Griggs each declared a different issue as their No. 1 priority when they appeared at a downtown lunch Monday sponsored by the Dallas Bar Association.

Eric Johnson

State Rep. Eric Johnson said the tone at City Hall is his top issue. He says there’s too much discord that hurts the city.

“The snark has got to stop,” Johnson told hundreds gathered at the luncheon in the Belo Mansion. “I will reduce the snarkiness, I will reduce the incivility and I’ll make City Hall a place that when you watch the proceedings, you’ll say, ‘I’m proud to be a resident of Dallas.'” 

Johnson says there’s too much that needs doing in Dallas, and after nine years serving in Austin, he’s the one who can get things done.

“I have a track record of bringing people together across party lines, across regional lines, north, south east, west, wealthy, working class, men, women — does not matter. I’ve found a way throughout my career to bring people together, and my support base reflects that ability,” Johnson said. 

Scott Griggs

Outgoing eight-year Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs didn’t hesitate declaring his top priority – improving public safety. He says Dallas is in a crisis because the police force has shrunk. Griggs says it’s time to hire more officers at better pay.

“That means maybe the most important call you’ll make in your life, a call to 911, only 50% of the time there’s a police officer available to answer that call,” Griggs said. “A priority-2 call — could be someone breaking into your back yard — two-thirds of the time there’s not a police officer available to answer the call” in a timely manner.

Griggs said his work helped to solve the police pension crisis and proves City Hall can and does get things done.

“I served on the Dallas police fire pension system, uncovered corruption, and then worked within City Hall, worked within the board, [and] worked with our state legislators to save the pension system,” Griggs said. 

There are more debates through May. Early voting for the runoff starts May 28. Election day is June 8.

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