Turns out, former Texas state Rep. Jason Villalba wasn't the last person to squeeze himself into Dallas' large field of mayoral candidates. Tuesday morning, West Dallas state Rep. Eric Johnson surprisingly threw his own hat into the mayoral ring, bringing the number of candidates running for the city's most visible office to 10.
Johnson holds three Ivy League degrees and has long been viewed as a rising star in city and state politics. Most recently, he successfully sought the removal of a historically inaccurate, Confederacy-celebrating plaque from the Texas Capitol.
“I believe I offer the citizens of Dallas a unique combination of experience, energy and creativity when it comes to solving problems, along with a proven track record of working well with people from varying backgrounds in order to accomplish great things," Johnson said in announcing his candidacy. "I have represented one of the most diverse House districts in the state for nearly a decade, and I’ve shown that I can bring people together to get the job done for all of our families.”
Johnson's campaign treasurer, Cowboys Ring of Honor member and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mel Renfro, said Tuesday that the Greenhill School graduate has everything it takes to be a successful mayor.
“I’ve been around winners all my life, from winning football state championships in high school to winning two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, so I know a winner when I see one. Eric Johnson is a winner, and he’ll be a great mayor,” Renfro said.
During the 2017 legislative session, Johnson fought a tough and ultimately unsuccessful battle to protect residents of his district by using tax increment financing districts to ensure gentrification like the kind happening in Trinity Groves and the Design District benefits both those coming to the neighborhood and those already there. It's more exciting than it sounds.
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Tuesday, he identified strengthening Dallas' neighborhoods as a priority for his mayoral campaign.
“Dallas is a great city, but we have some serious challenges ahead of us. We need to make sure that the Dallas of tomorrow is full of opportunity for everyone," Johnson said. "It’s time to move beyond the old divisions at City Hall and work together toward real solutions. If we do, Dallas will be a city of strong, safe neighborhoods where families thrive and where every child has the opportunities to succeed that I enjoyed growing up in this incredible city."
Johnson told the Observer he will not be stepping down from his current position to run for mayor.
“I will not be resigning to run for mayor,” he said. “I plan to work harder and be more effective down in Austin than I’ve ever been. I have an energy and passion for public service that is hard to put into words.”