Dallas’ New Mayor Johnson Sits for a Short Interview, and It’s a Surprising Ride

“Drinking from a fire hose.” That’s one of the first lines Eric Johnson, Dallas’ newly sworn-in mayor, laid on us as we walked into his office this week to ask about his vision for the city and what he is planning for his first few months in office. His comment was a stab at humility. He noted that when a new mayor takes office in Dallas, that mayor likely starts with a clean slate that includes not only reading up on a variety of city business but even finding furniture for an office that’s been stripped to the carpet. Mayor Mike Rawlings used his own furniture and he took with him, it seems, so one of Johnson’s first orders of business was to find things such as a chair to sit in. This extended even out to the balcony outside of the mayor’s office. It offers an expansive view of the city, but as the mayor quickly learned when his two small children wandered out there, it also had far less than robust railings on its sides. There were large openings that even an adult could easily fall through. The city has since temporarily plugged those gaps with painted plywood.In the long run, such details won’t frame Johnson’s tenure in office, but they should help paint an accurate picture of the human side of how our government functions. The truth is that nothing happens — even basic things — unless someone does them. To be mayor is to have a tremendous opportunity to serve, but to be mayor also entails revving up the machinery of government so that it functions for the people.   Continue reading...

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