What Does Anti-Toll Road PAC's Questionnaire Tell Us About Dallas City Council Candidates?

The proposed Trinity toll road, in one of its many guises.
The proposed Trinity toll road, in one of its many guises.
NTTA

There's all sorts of problems with pre-election candidate surveys. They're high risk/low reward for participants, can be boring and suffer from a self-selection problem. That's especially true when the survey is conducted by an interest-fueled PAC like the Dallas Green Alliance, one of two political action committees trying to fighting for progressive transportation policies in Dallas upcoming City Council election. By progressive transportation polices, we mean no Trinity toll road.

That doesn't mean there's not any interesting information to be gleaned, so let's look at what was said, and more interestingly in some cases, what wasn't, as 22 of the 46 candidates for Dallas City Council answered DGA's pre-May election questionnaire.

Here's what stuck out from the results:

Carolyn Arnold (seemingly) comes out against the Trinity toll road.

Arnold is running for Dwaine Caraway's District 4 seat. She has the endorsement of Caraway, the pro-Trinity toll road, term-limited and popular former interim mayor and seems to be in the driver's seat headed towards May.

"I do not support the Trinity toll road. It is largely unfunded and does not address our traffic issues in southern Dallas. As I campaign, the voters in my district have told me that they do not support a toll road in any fashion," she says, which seems definitive until you read her answer to the survey's next question: "If you do not support the toll road, what specific steps would you take as a City Council member to stop it?"

"I would support a review of the viability of the toll road, and the city's commitments to the road," Arnold says, which sounds b bit hedge-y.

Still, taking her at her word, Arnold would be the fifth anti-toll road vote on the City Council.

Rick Callahan actually answered the thing.

Callahan is facing the strongest challenge of any incumbent, from Jesse Diaz, who took him to a runoff in 2013 and Sherry Cordova, who picked up the support of the Stonewall Democrats' endorsement committee last week. Callahan seemingly had little to gain from answering the questions, but he gave it his best, staking out the familiar compromise position on the toll road.

"I have long supported and twice voted for the Trinity Parkway as agreed to in the Balanced Vision Plan. I see the road as a very much needed transportation project to serve the people in my district. I have been told repeatedly that there is no money for a "parkway," and that the only solution is to make it a "tollway". While I personally am in favor of the Parkway, before making a final decision on any design plan, I want to hear from the people in my district," he said.

Tiffini Young didn't.

Young is running for Carolyn Davis' District 7 seat. She's been endorsed by both Davis and Caraway. It's not clear where she stands on the toll road. As the prohibitive favorite, it's not surprising she didn't get into the fray on the issue, but it is worth noting.

Mayor Mike Rawlings wouldn't touch this thing with a 10-foot pole.

It would've been genuinely shocking if he did, but, seriously, what's the harm about definitively letting people know where you stand on this stuff.

Wini Cannon stands out in District 3

Joe Tave is the candidate who's been endorsed by anti-Trinity toll road council member Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston for Vonciel Jones Hill's District 3 seat. He took the survey and showed his anti-toll road bona fides, but so did Wini Cannon, a lawyer and ex-municipal judge.

"My 3 steps to terminating the Trinity Tollroad project:

Solidify an 8 vote majority to terminate the city's involvement with NTTA and NCTCOG on the project. To secure this majority, I would form alliances with council members that are currently or elected to office with an anti-toll road position.

Amend the Balanced Vision Plan to remove any roadway component and just focus funding on the construction of the Trinity River parks and amenities.

Present a Position Paper regarding the potential for Municipal Bankruptcy, under 28 USC chapter 9. Outlining the facts that if Dallas were to pursue the execution of this Tollroad, we would be putting the finances of the city in peril," she said.


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