Optimism, Sense of Service Buoy DFW Mayors at LDA Forum

by Dave Moore, Staff Writer

North Texas mayors have carried a heavy load of challenges over the past year, from the pandemic, to social unrest, to a once-in-a-century winter storm that caused widespread power outages.

Yet, the mayors of Arlington, Mesquite, and Plano were upbeat in their address to members of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Leadership Dallas Alumni Breakfast with the Mayors event on Wednesday, May 5. The virtual event was moderated by Gillea Allison, President of D Magazine Partners, and graduate of the LD Class of 2020.

Uniting those city leaders at the breakfast was the spirit of service they share in leading their communities.

“During the winter storm I could not have been prouder of not only our community, but (cities) throughout the metroplex,” said Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, also mentioning his city’s massive response to COVID-19. “We saw our faith-based community, nonprofits, and our emergency responders do extraordinary things to help each other,” Mayor Williams said, describing the challenges of power outages and frozen pipes during the February storm.

Not missing a beat, Williams added:, “We are tired of having these natural disasters, and ready to move on. We are ready to move on, and the Metroplex is really poised to have an incredible economic resurgence, and (we’re set to) have a lot of fun.”

Williams said that Arlington is now positioning to promote itself as the go-to destination, between Las Vegas and Orlando, and has created a mass-transit system with an app-driven rideshare service, called “Via.”

Mesquite Mayor Bruce Archer said his city is rolling out the red carpet for new businesses, has 10,000 new homes in the works, and is pushing hard toward normalcy.

“As Mayor Williams said, we’re at a point now where we’re going to keep being careful and safe, but we’re not staying hunkered down,” Archer said. “We’re moving forward, and we’re doing whatever it takes to get things back moving aggressively again, so folks can feel life can be normal again.”

Harry LaRosiliere – who was elected mayor of Plano in 2013 and is wrapping up his second term – said one key to success is to lead by example, adding that the mayors at the forum follow the same track.

“In our case, we started a summer internship program, connecting 600 kids with our local corporations,” LaRosiliere said, adding that a second Plano initiative last year resulted in the collection of 200,000 pounds of peanut butter in a one-month period.

The city leaders agreed that while it is hard to get citizens to serve on boards, commissions, and councils – especially the given intense scrutiny on social media and in public life – it is important to recruit those who desire to help others, rather than those who seek power or prestige.

Mayor Archer said, “When I read at schools, after I finish, I have a pep talk. I tell them, when you’re out of school, if you remain in Mesquite, help your hometown. Make a difference. The goal is for the kids to feel a sense of duty.”

Event sponsors included Oncor and Simmons Bank.