By Catie George, Manager, Communications and Storytelling
The DRC hosted its Year-End Conversation with Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and JPMorgan Chase & Co., on Tuesday, Dec. 12. Mayor Johnson discussed the beginning of his second term in office as the 60th Mayor of Dallas and his priorities for the remainder of his final term.
“I believe the priorities that I’ve been articulating for five years are the right priorities for the city,” said Johnson in conversation with Ollie Chandhok, Market President and Publisher of the Dallas Business Journal. “I’m just the mayor of town trying to make Dallas the best I can make it for the people who are going to come after me.”
There is no question that the future of Dallas is bright, according to the mayor.
“People are moving here in droves. The region is growing very, very quickly. We are the fastest-growing region in the country, and this city is a big part of that,” said Johnson. “We’re the draw. And it’s just such an honor to be the mayor of a city that’s that easy to sell. That’s my job, I go and sell it. But it’s a great product.”
Having been born and raised in Dallas, Johnson discussed the Dallas Independent School District, of which he is a product, and the importance of the upcoming bond election.
“You can love an entity and still criticize it; they’re not mutually exclusive. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our school system, but we ask more of it, and we are demanding of it,” said Johnson. “If we don’t [demand more], the consequence comes in the form of children who graduate from the school system and are unable to actually have a very robust career.”
Following the Mayor and City Council’s consideration, the $1.1 billion bond proposal must be approved by voters in 2024. The DRC is closely monitoring this election, especially as it concerns important infrastructure improvements.
Johnson also discussed one of his focal points while in office: growing the park system in Dallas.
“I’m a big advocate for the parks because I believe they keep families in the city. I believe it catalyzes economic development. I believe it spurs housing; people want to build near it and live near it,” said Johnson. “They’re an appeal. It’s what people want. It’s what developers are telling us they want. And so that’s why it’s so high [in my priorities].”
During his tenure as mayor, violent crime has taken a dramatic drop, in part due to Johnson’s work with Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia.
“What is working is the hotspot policing based violent crime reduction plan that Chief Garcia put in place with he got here,” Johnson said. “But that plan requires more bodies to expand any further than it’s being applied right now. It’s being applied very selectively right now, and the places will be the most efficient and most effective, but we need to apply it to more places that require more officers, more people. So we’ve got to hire more officers and more people.”
Despite staffing shortages preventing full coverage in Dallas, Johnson was hopeful about the state of violent crime in the future.
“Good police work stops a bad criminal after doing something once or twice that they would otherwise do ten times until they get caught. That’s why we need more officers out there to help,” said Johnson. “But nobody is closer than Dallas [in terms of] being back to pre-pandemic numbers when it comes to homicides. I mean, we’ve just made so much more progress than everybody else. We’re competing against ourselves.”
Johnson urged business leaders to stay engaged with civic fundamentals while they enjoy the city’s strong economy.
“This city is rightly perceived as being a very pro-business city, and that has to do with everybody in this room, the folks who are here from the Dallas Regional Chamber and other entities that have made this a very welcoming place for CEOs and corporations,” said Johnson. “I’d say that the main thing we need to do is not lose sight of the basics that people are looking for. Hold your city government accountable, and make sure that we know what you expect of us. We need to hear from you on a regular basis so we can continue to be a pro-business city.”
Thank you to our co-presenting sponsors, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and JPMorgan Chase & Co.; our gold sponsors, Amazon and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control; and our silver sponsors, American Airlines, DFW International Airport, Forvis LLP, Frost Brown Todd LLP, Locke Lord LLP, Oncor, Santander Consumer USA, Southwest Airlines, University of Texas at Arlington, and Verizon.
To learn more about upcoming DRC events, visit our website.