Here’s Why the Next Mayor Needs to Avoid Southern Dallas Fatigue

You may disagree with how Mike Rawlings ran his eight-year Grow South crusade — and plenty of his political opponents have — but no Dallas mayor ever came close to matching his relentless commitment to the southern half of our city.As we get closer to electing Rawlings’ successor, my greatest hope is that southern Dallas fatigue doesn’t set in. The dozens of diverse neighborhoods in southern Dallas — an area bigger than the entire city of Atlanta — have only begun to reap the over-investment they deserve after generations of neglect and discrimination.The wrongdoing isn’t just the stuff of our city’s ugly racial past. Present-day injustices — such as the one my colleague Robert Wilonsky recently revealed about the environmental nightmare known as shingle mountain in southeast Dallas — should only redouble leaders’ resolve to set things right.Soon after he took office, Rawlings became southern Dallas’ most high-profile cheerleader and branding officer. He understood from the beginning that neighborhoods weren’t just kept down by the big stuff — say, slumlords defying housing codes — but by the small pernicious realities, such as illegal trash dumping and loose dogs.Rawlings in eight years made dents in much of what torments southern Dallas. At the same time, he kept North Dallas focused on why the success of communities mostly south of Interstate 30 is crucial to all of us.As he assessed Grow South’s successes and failures with me last week, Rawlings said the most important job of the mayor — the City Council's only at-large seat — is to make sure resources tip toward the most beleaguered neighborhoods rather than always being divided equally, district by district.  Continue reading...

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