Election season is upon us again in Dallas! Elections for Dallas City Council and School Board will be held on May 6. While clearly not as high profile as the presidential race, local elections are incredibly important and arguably impact more of your life than any other tier of government.
Why Local Elections Matter
Everyone has heard that you should vote in local elections as part of your civic duty, but in this piece, I will attempt to appeal to your raw self-interest. Consider that the City Council and School Board direct and/or oversee:
- Planning and Zoning Decisions – Any project you want to do in Dallas must be approved by the Dallas City Council.
- Economic Development Incentives – If your project needs public funds to be viable, city council members weigh in before approval.
- Quality of Roads and Infrastructure – City Council will vote to decide if, and when, Dallas will issue a bond package that fixes our crumbling infrastructure, creates new parks and more
- Value of Your Home – Home values are highly influenced by the quality of the public schools which the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees governs in Dallas.
- Affordable Housing – If your project has a multifamily component, the City Council offers recommendations on the affordable housing standards you’ll include. The city is also in the process of developing a set of new policies on affordable housing which council members will vote on. If you rent in Dallas, these new policies will likely directly impact you in addition to the industry.
- Pension Crisis – City Council members currently serve on the DPFP Board of Trustees and will be critical in charting the city’s course during this pivotal time.
- Parking – City Council influences parking standards and is currently considering measures to require restaurants to include patio seating in their calculation of parking needs. This would increase the number of parking spaces required, which in turn impact the walkability and vibrancy of our city.
What You Can Do
While our elected officials direct or oversee these policies, your vote matters and can influence each of these important issues. Municipal elections typically have low turnout and most Dallas City Council Districts are won with less than 2,000 votes! Imagine if all TREC members voted on May 6. We would make such an impact!
Not sure who to vote for? TREC did some of the leg work and after candidate interviews, endorsed candidates which best represent the interests of the business and commercial real estate sector.
Dates to Remember
- March 30 – TREC Voter Registration Happy Hour: TREC will host a Young Guns voter registration happy hour at Milo. You can learn more about local races, get registered and sign up to volunteer for candidates with other TREC members.
- April 6 – Voter registration deadline: Even if you only moved within your district you will need to update your address. Make sure the address on your driver’s license matches the address on your voter registration file!
- April 24 – Early voting beings: Cast your ballot from April 24 through May 2 at certain polling locations. Note that you might not be able to vote at your usual Election Day precinct location. Find a list of early voting locations.
- May 6 – Election Day: Be sure to get out and vote! Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. This will likely be a low turnout election, so be sure to make it to the polls and help elect a city council that will work with our industry and on behalf of an ever-better Dallas!
Ryan Garcia is an Estimator with Austin Commercial, a large commercial construction company based in Dallas, TX. He currently serves as the 2017 Young Guns PAC Chair and has been a TREC member since 2015.