Early voting is underway in the May 4 municipal elections, and in Fort Worth, Mayor Betsy Price is facing her toughest election fight since she won the office in 2011: it’s from Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Deborah Peoples.
Recently, at a brewery in Fort Worth’s Near Southside neighborhood, Price gave a state-of-the-city-type talk to a group of young professionals.
“You know, I’d love to think you came out to see me, but I think you might have come for the beer, right?” Price said.
As she runs for reelection, Price is pitching herself as a steady hand to steer this fast-growing city into the future.
“Transportation. Infrastructure and education: the growth that we’re having is phenomenal, and the ability to manage that growth while still keeping the quality of life and affordability here is what this council and my office have done very well,” Price tells KERA.
She wants to build more public transit. Also, with new residents outpacing job growth in Fort Worth, she wants to court big companies to move here, and nurture local entrepreneurs. As a former tax assessor-collector, Price likes to tout cuts to the city’s tax rate – an effort to mitigate growing property tax bills. But perhaps her marquee program has focused on getting every third- grader to read at grade level.
“We started Read Fort Worth two and a half years ago in conjunction with the school district and the business community. We’ve already moved the needle quite a bit, and I want to see that continue,” Price says.
Price has also been the cause of frustration for some. Many Fort Worth residents are still angry with her response to the controversial 2016 arrest of Jackie Craig, a black mother, by a white police officer. Immigrant rights advocates have also criticized Price after Fort Worth declined to join a lawsuit challenging a state law banning so-called sanctuary cities.
“We felt like our dollars that would go in that suit were better served reaching out in the community, meeting with the Hispanic community, working with the schools, working on our police officers’ understanding,” Price says. “I’m not blameless – I’ll never say that – but often times, situations of tumult cause you to take a look at how can I better serve my constituents.”
Price also pointed to the city’s race and culture task force that convened to analyze the city’s racial inequities, and she says the city is moving forward on implementing its recommendations.