Rickey Callahan will step aside in June rather than seek a fourth term on the Dallas City Council in next year's municipal elections. Callahan announced his decision at a meeting of the Southeast Dallas Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, according to The Dallas Morning News' Robert Wilonsky.
Callahan, who did not respond to the Observer's request for an interview Tuesday, was elected to represent Pleasant Grove's District 5 in 2013. While he didn't look much like his majority black and Latino district, he consistently fought hard for what he believed was best for his constituents.
Most often, that meant Callahan took up conservative positions. He supported the Trinity toll road, even as the rest of the city turned against it. He welcomed the legal trouble in which the city is still mired for banning the porn expo Exxxotica from the convention center and once suggested that Dallas needed to "break the backs" of its homeless if it wanted to solve its panhandling problem.
Callahan's stands were frequently accompanied by lengthy speeches that ranged from amusing to curmudgeonly to downright bizarre.
Last year, he argued that Dallas should keep its Confederate monuments, pointing to his great-great grandfather, whom he believes died at the Confederate prison camp in Andersonville, Georgia, during the Civil War, as representative of the Southern heritage he believes will be forgotten if the statues and monuments come down.
More than 13,000 Union soldiers died from disease and starvation at the camp, at which Callahan would later tell the Observer he believes his ancestor served as a guard. Its commandant was the only person hanged for war crimes during the Civil War.
In March, Callahan was on the losing side of a fight over plans to build a concrete batching plant in Joppa, an old freedman's town about five miles south of downtown Dallas. Callahan supported the plant and said opposing it was the same as opposing economic growth in the city.
"We're not going to build Dallas, we're not going to build Pleasant Grove, we're not going to do anything without concrete," Callahan said. "Why do we keep killing jobs? Everyone's against manufacturing jobs. In a perfect world, I would love for everyone to sit in a nice, pristine, 72-degree office tower, on a computer, typing away, but typing on a computer, that doesn't produce anything. America is driven by jobs, jobs, jobs."
Callahan also strongly opposed Dallas' cite-and-release program. Allowing city residents busted with small amounts of pot to receive a citation and court date rather than being booked into jail would send the city on a path to "anarchy," Callahan said in January 2016.
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Callahan is moving on, he told Wilonsky, because it's time for District 5's council representative to reflect the diversity of the community.
"There's enough of me on the council," he said. "We need more minorities and women. That's what our community is made of. I don't want to be a barrier. I don't want to be the guy who stayed too long. I want to go out in a positive way."
Callahan's departure guarantees that at least three new members will be elected to the council in May. Oak Cliff's Scott Griggs and North Dallas' Sandy Greyson are term-limited and can't seek re-election. Several council members, including Griggs, Philip Kingston, Jennifer Gates and Adam McGough, are also rumored to be mulling mayoral runs, which could shake things up even further.