From what I can tell, Jessica Huseman and Shawn Williams were the sole media members to attend Eddie Bernice Johnson's campaign kick-off held yesterday at the beleaguered Southwest Center Mall. The event was also attended by three council members: Pauline Medrano, Vonciel Jones Hill and Tennell Atkins, who referred to EBJ as "the first lady of Dallas." Looks like someone's gunning for a scholarship.
Anyway. Just got a note from perennial Dallas mayoral candidate Edward Okpa, who thought that particular comment hilarious. He writes: "It is no surprise. Mr. Atkins will say anything just so he can be quoted." Which is hardly the point of his missive, in which he wonders why anyone would keep voting for Johnson given the fact that after 18 years representing District 30, "what stands as her strongest contribution to the dire socio-economic conditions that plague her district?" His whole letter follows.
It's not clear whether Okpa's endorsing Johnson's would-be rivals for the seat: Taj Clayton, who says he's "testing the waters," or state Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway, wife of Dwaine, whose campaign website has a significant spelling error.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
I am happy Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson [D], has launched her re-election bid for another term. But the question that needs some answer is what stands as her strongest contribution to the dire socio-economic conditions that plague her District?
Since majority of voters in her District, are African Americans [AA], one is often challenged to see what are the gains for all the overwhelming support Ms Johnson has enjoyed over the years. Ms Johnson was in office when Wilmer Hutchins ISD was shut down, I did not hear any positive contribution she made to revert that from happening.
Paul Quinn College the only DFW HBCU, is in her district, I wonder why she has not gathered financial support to keep the college from falling further into an embarrassment. Since Sunbelt National Bank, last bank owned by African-Americans in DFW was closed in the 80s, African-Americans in DFW, stand as the only minority group without a community bank. Access to capital in minority community remains at all time low. I would like Ms Johnson, to point to specific legislation she authored and or supported to help alleviate or improve this situation.
The AA community is absent of community bank, no reasonable grocery store, hardly any office building for small businesses or major employers in the area, yet she claims she has the ears of the President Obama.
President Obama has been in office almost 3 years, but Ms Johnson has been in Congress approaching 30 years. Does she think by telling her supporters she has the ears of the president, they will get impressed? Maybe, but I am not. Her using such line of having the President's ears is flimsy. She once boosted of having Clinton's and George Bush ears. So what is new? It's not news or enough to make such claims, when those that have over the years committed to supporting her are marginal in most measures of economic development opportunities compared to other congressional district. I guess her AA voters are sheepish and will go along to keep getting the same old results.
Political gains are not about who has the President's ears. But who can use such access to bring home the bacon and dividends that are expected. At one time, Ms Johnson was Chair of Congressional Black Caucus, I did not see anything she did serving in that position.
I would hope that DFW African-Americans go beyond the symbolism of having their own elected and seek and elect persons whose disposition should help them join the economic development race. DFW African-American community, has some of the most political capital in the region: Hon. Eddie Bernice Johnson, State Senator Royce West, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, President Obama's appointee - Ambassador Ron Kirk - US Trade Representative, and several council members. However, the Hispanics without such political capital are moving and shaking, getting economic development projects done, while AA are happy pointing to their own who are in office. Symbolism versus substance, you take a pick.
If there are no measurable gains that comes from political exercise and engagements, it is just show. AA cannot afford such as other ethnic groups are making progress while they celebrate personalities.
As for Councilman Atkins calling Ms Johnson, First Lady of Dallas, it is no surprise. Mr. Atkins will say anything just so he can be quoted. I am sure he has called Ms. Rawlings [Mayor Rawlings wife], First Lady. That being the case, why should anyone take him serious?
Ejike E Okpa II