From the beginning of last night's forum at the Avalon at Kessler Park, questions from the crowd of nearly 100 District 3 residents focused squarely on natural gas drilling and incumbent city council member Dave Neumann's ties to the industry.
Neumann said the city is monitoring the results of several studies related to the environmental impact of Fort Worth's 1,600 wells, and that information will be used to avoid repeating any mistakes when the council considers the issue on October 26.
"Gas drilling is not a council issue," he said. "It is a city issue, but I ask that we act responsible to what is best for you and I."
When questioned about any political and/or financial ties to the oil and gas industry, Neumann admitted he had received a $500 contribution but "promptly returned the check." And when the issue arose last year, Neumann said he sold his Exxon Mobil stocks to prevent any conflict of interest.
Scott Griggs, the 36-year-old lawyer attempting to oust Neumann, said his nonexistent ties to the oil and gas industry allow him to "think freely" on the issue.
"People's lives, property and the quality of air and water are much more important than money," he said. "The profits of Exxon and XTO are way down on the list of things to worry about."
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Griggs spoke openly about his ambition to move Dallas forward as he comfortably sat on a table in front of the invigorated crowd.
"I am glad you all stayed through the opening act so you could see the main show," he joked after Neumann's comments.
Griggs stressed his opposition to drilling near neighborhoods and said his candidacy represents an opportunity to address issues where everyone is on the same page.
"I am going to be the candidate to move the city forward by being innovative, fiscally responsible and bringing focus back to issues dealing with our quality of life," he said.