City Hall

Who Hates Phil Kingston and Why?

Kingston likes this photo.
Kingston likes this photo. For Our Community
For Our Community sure doesn't like Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston. The pro-Trinity toll road political action committee, founded by Dallas political consultant Mari Woodlief in 2015, is coming after the outspoken District 14 incumbent with a bevy of campaign mailers and an ominous website.

Woodlief, who is best known for working for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and former Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk, didn't return a request for comment, but it's pretty clear what the idea here is. Kingston, according to the video posted on, is too big of a jerk to effectively represent his downtown and East Dallas constituents.

For Our Community's material doesn't mention any political issues, or either of Kingston's May opponents, Kim Welch or Matt Wood, but it does feature Kingston's telling Rawlings to "pipe down."

The money behind the ads comes from many of the same sources that funded For Our Community's efforts two years ago. Former Dallas Citizen's Council President John Scovell has contributed $25,000 to the PAC so far in 2017, as has Jere Thompson Jr., the CEO of Ambit Energy. John Tolleson of Tolleson Wealth Management and Jack Matthews of Matthews Southwest, both very rich and very traditional in their politics, have contributed to the $189,000 in cash on hand the PAC maintains as well.

Kingston, for his part, says he is flattered. "Honest to God, some buddies of mine in Austin, some municipal lawyers down there called me and said 'You have to settle a bet. We want to know whether that's a real oppo site or if you put it up,'" Kingston says. "I have worse pictures of myself on my own site. That picture, especially in black and what, I'm like 'Damn, I look good.'"

The roll out of the website, ad and print mailer this week have followed closely with an amendment to the city's ethics ordinance that requires that council members refrain from "berating, admonishing and publicly criticizing city employees."

That provision, pushed by the mayor and his allies on the council, is a not so subtle dig at Kingston and his council ally Scott Griggs, both of whom have been accused of acting without proper decorum in their interactions with city staff.

"They're saying that I'm disrespectful, disruptive and ineffective. Well, as it turns out, they have a point. I am quite disrespectful to corruption, and I find it impossible to resist disrupting backroom deals," Kingston says. "The amount of money they're spending tells you everything you need to know about how effective I am."
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young