The Dallas City Council turned over the city's seats on DART's board of directors Wednesday, dumping three board members who defied the City Council in 2016.
The council move is in direct defiance of the stated goal of DART's leadership to build the suburb-friendly Cotton Belt rail line from Plano to D/FW Airport. The City Council prefers that DART focus on building a second rail line through downtown Dallas, called the D2.
The city of Dallas appoints eight people to the 15-member DART board. Seven of those spots were up for grabs Wednesday. Only Sue Baumann, appointed by the City Council in 2016, was not up for review. Of those sitting on the DART board, the council selected only the three who didn't vote for the Cotton Belt, Patrick Kennedy, Amanda Moreno and Michelle Wong Krause, for new terms. The council ousted Jerry Christian, Pamela Dunlop Gates and William Velasco, all supporters of the suburban rail line. They join former board member Richard Carrizales, whom the City Council removed from the board earlier this year.
Stepping in for Christian, Gates, Velasco and Carrizales are former Arts District director Catherine Cuellar, Don Hill's former attorney Ray Jackson, data consultant Jon-Bertrell Killen, and attorney and former City Council candidate Dominique Torres.
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During interviews with the Transportation Committee earlier this month, each of the new appointees, as well as the returning members, stressed the need to remake the bus system within the city of Dallas, something that's become a priority for the council.
They seemed prepared for their roles. Their interviews stood in marked contrast to those of previous candidates for the job, who've frequently exhibited confusion or outright ignorance about transit issues.
Yesterday's action also highlighted the shifting political dynamics of the new council. While the council approved Kennedy, Moreno, Cuellar and Killen unanimously based on Transportation Committee recommendations, Gates and Velasco — preferred by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Transportation Committee Chair Lee Kleinman — went down during the full council's vote. Velasco, who had been on the board since 2001, received only two votes, Rawlings' and Kleinman's.
Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Omar Narvaez, Mark Clayton and Philip Kingston, the mayor's open opposition on the council, were joined by Dwaine Caraway, Kevin Felder, Adam McGough and Sandy Greyson in voting for each of the three winning candidates for the board. After the vote, Kingston, never shy on social media, crowed on Facebook that there was "a new sheriff in town." This was the council's last scheduled meeting before the annual July recess.