City Hall

Paul Ridley Won the District 14 Race. Now, the Old Appointees Won't Leave.

The current board and commission appointees' terms end in September, but City Council member Paul Ridley wants them replaced before then.
The current board and commission appointees' terms end in September, but City Council member Paul Ridley wants them replaced before then. City of Dallas
Newly elected City Council member Paul Ridley's job isn't starting off the way he imagined. In May, he won the seat for District 14, ousting incumbent David Blewett. Ridley was ready to get to work, including by announcing new appointees.

Blewett may have lost the election, sure, but his crew has their own plans. Now, the appointees are refusing to step down, despite Ridley repeatedly asking them to hand in their resignations.

It's common practice for new council members to shake up the boards and commissions once they enter office. When first contacted, Ridley's office responded in a professional tone that didn't quite address the situation the politician has now found himself in.

"Councilman Ridley is currently reviewing the existing appointees and making any changes he deems necessary," his spokesperson said by email, adding that the council member "would like to express his gratitude to the current appointees for their time and dedication to the City."


But in a follow-up call, Ridley put it more bluntly, explaining that nearly all of Blewett's appointees have refused to step down.

"I believe I received a mandate in the election for new leadership," he said. "Most of the commission members were appointed by my predecessor, and I believe that the voters want new leadership in those positions, and that’s my reason for replacing them."

Ridley knows he's waded into a bit of a unique conundrum here. “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.

Blewett came in second in the general election. When the race went to a runoff, Blewett tried appealing to more conservative voters, changing stances on his previous vote to cut Dallas Police Department’s overtime budget and saying he wanted it fully restored.

The tactic failed, though: Blewett had raised around four times more money than his opponent, but Ridley walked away with 61% of the vote.

So far, Blewett's appointees haven't given Ridley an explanation for why they're standing their ground. Contacted by the Observer, the appointees didn't reply to requests for comment.

Blewett, however, did reply when asked about the appointees. Council members, he said by text, "nominate. Full Council confirms for two years. Any other [council members] asking confirmed people to resign or just Ridley?"

Ridley doesn't get it. The appointees' terms only last another few months, anyway. Board and commission appointee terms expire Sept. 30. “So, I can’t explain to you what their rationale is for resisting stepping aside to allow the new team of leaders to come in,” he said.
click to enlarge Former City Council Member David Blewett has been in a similar situation when he was elected two years. He inherited his opponents' appointees, but decided to let them ride out their terms. - JIM SCHUTZE
Former City Council Member David Blewett has been in a similar situation when he was elected two years. He inherited his opponents' appointees, but decided to let them ride out their terms.
Jim Schutze

When we asked Blewett what he’d do if he were in Ridley’s shoes, he pointed out that he was in a similar situation two years ago. Blewett had defeated former District 14 council member Philip Kingston, the incumbent in that race, and was stuck with his opponent's appointees. Ridley was one of them.

Ridley was just wrapping up his eighth year on the city plan commission when Blewett was elected in 2019. Ridley also spent four years representing District 14 on the landmark commission. Instead of asking them to step down, though, Blewett said he let them ride out their term.

“I even let Ridley stay until November because he had a couple cases he wanted to finish,” Blewett said.

Still, Ridley wants to get his team up and running. He also worries about what Blewett’s appointees could do with the remainder of terms.

“The council members can’t do everything,” Ridley said. “We have to rely to a significant degree upon the work of the various commissions. So, it’s critical that we have people in those positions who are interested in the work of those commissions and will participate fully in conducting the city’s work through those commissions.”
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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