City Hall

Dallas Council Member Paul Ridley Gets Rid of Leftover Appointee. Several Remain.

City Council member Paul Ridley is the only one at the horseshoe having to work with their incumbent's appointees.
City Council member Paul Ridley is the only one at the horseshoe having to work with their incumbent's appointees. City of Dallas
Since winning the election earlier this year and becoming City Council member for District 14, Paul Ridley has found himself saddled with a pretty bizarre problem. He wants to get rid of leftover appointees, but some of the board and commission members are giving him pushback at every turn.

Ridley's asked these appointees to resign, but no one has honored that request. The board and commission appointee terms expire Sept. 30, but Ridley worries about what former City Council member David Blewett’s appointees could do with the remainder of that time.

After a public hearing at Wednesday's City Council meeting, Ridley was able to wash his hands of the redistricting commissioner appointed by his predecessor.

He'd already asked Kristin Scholer, Blewett's redistricting commissioner, to step down. Under the city charter, Scholer was allowed to ask for a public hearing at City Council this week to determine whether or not to remove her.

Scholer’s term was meant to end on Sept. 30, but it could have lasted longer if certain projects weren't completed yet.

During the hearing, Ridley said he wanted to remove her because she doesn’t have enough experience with the district or with representing constituents on a district-wide basis. He admits these are not requirements under the City Charter, but said he thinks it’s an important quality for this position. Ridley also said he tried to reach out to Scholer multiple times about her position, but didn’t receive a response.

Scholer disagreed on all counts. She said she’s a longtime resident of the area and that she’s more than qualified for the position. Most of her experience is with data analytics, which she said brings a unique and important perspective to the redistricting commission.

“I think I am actually incredibly qualified,” Scholer said. She sat on the steering committee of the Dallas Arts District's master connect plan. "I learned a lot from that and [about] how things within the city work,” she said.

As for the lack of response to Ridley, Scholer claimed she only got one email from him asking for her resignation.

"It's my hope that she will be allowed to continue her work." – David Blewett, former City Council member

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Scholer explained her silence to Ridley by pointing to the charter, which bars redistricting commissioners from communicating with sitting City Council members, whether directly or indirectly. On top of that, she said her lack of a reply was her answer to Ridley's request.

In turn, Ridley insisted he'd tried to reach Scholer multiple times, explaining that he didn't want to speak about anything that would've violated the charter's rules.

The city attorney weighed in to clarify that Scholer could have responded to Ridley’s resignation request without violating the City Charter.

Ridley also said her experience in data analytics is important, but knowing the neighborhoods in the district is more important.

Ahead of Wednesday's vote, several people came out to speak in favor of Scholer, including Blewett. "I nominated Ms. Scholer because she has a background in data, specifically demographics," Blewett said.

"Last spring, she was vetted and approved by this body unanimously, and I thank you all for voting for her," Blewett added. "She's already begun the work and preparation of serving the city again. It's my hope that she will be allowed to continue her work."

After all the testimony was delivered, Omar Narvaez seconded Ridley’s motion to remove Scholer. In the end, the City Council canned Scholer by a 10-5 vote.

As for Blewett's remaining appointees, Ridley knows it's an odd problem to have. “I’m the only one on the council in this election who beat the incumbent, so I’m the only one that’s facing this situation,” he said.

He beat Blewett in both the general election and the subsequent runoff, roping in 61% of the vote.

"The voters determined what was in the public interest when they voted me in by a margin of 22% in the recent election," he argued. "They are the ultimate determinate of what's in the public interest, in my belief."
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn