Public safety, jobs, and COVID-19 vaccinations remain top priorities for Dallas' District 3.
The district includes portions of Oak Cliff and southwest Dallas county. In his state of the district address, District 3 Councilman Casey Thomas said 2021 will be a year focused around recovery, centered on racial equity.
“Today is a great day, and we are here in District 3,” said District 3 Councilman, Casey Thomas during his State of the District 3 press conference.
Almost a month into 2021, Councilman Thomas says his district is thriving.
"The state of District 3 is strong and improving," said Thomas.
As chair of the Ad Hoc Committee, created by Mayor Eric Johnson to handle COVID-19 recovery efforts, Thomas' first responsibility was to work with the Dallas city manager to come up with a financial package for the recovery of small businesses.
"We put together a $5 million small businesses continuity fund to provide loans and grants for our business owners in the city of Dallas, with $1.5 million set aside for businesses that were located in under served communities," said Thomas.
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Thomas says COVID-19 testing and vaccinations are critical, especially is his district.
"We advocated for testing sites, and fought for testing sites in southern Dallas for COVID-19 when there were none in areas that were most impacted," said Thomas.
As a result, Thomas says not only was a testing site set up at the Ellis Davis Field House in Oak Cliff, but they were set up at local churches and throughout southern Dallas.
But now getting the COVID-19 vaccinations in the arms of those who need it most, remains a challenge.
"We will continue to fight for testing available in the entire city of Dallas, especially for those most vulnerable," said Thomas.
Thomas also touted his handling of the civil unrest and protests in 2020, holding workshops with Dallas’ community oversight board, and community activists. Several workshops discussed how the city of Dallas and Dallas Police can work together to address deep rooted concerns with police policies.
Meanwhile, when it comes to public safety in the district, Thomas, along with an advisory council are planning to hand out a district-wide survey to get input on how safe residents feel, as well as suggestions to make them feel safer.
Thomas says crime is down in District 3, but says there are pockets of violence. He’s held socially distant town halls in the Singing Hills and Glenview neighborhoods to develop short and long terms plans to improve the areas.
Lack of grocery stores and access to fresh fruits and vegetables continues to be a major problem, and has been for years in the southern sector of the city. A task force to address the issue was created two years ago.
“We have visited the city of Waco to see their nonprofit grocery store model,” said Thomas. “The task force is now focused in two areas: One focused on locating viable properties, and the other on strategies on developing plans.”
On Jan. 1, Thomas was appointed as chair of the Housing and Homeless Solutions Committee for the city of Dallas. He says a recent report revealed some troubling information.
“We have an overabundance of African American males who are homeless in the city of Dallas, and we have heard the communities response,” said Thomas.
Thomas is calling for a racial equity audit of the city’s Comprehensive Housing policy, and a full audit of the Office of Homeless Solutions.
He’s also focusing in on workforce equity.
“We will offer contracts to community based workforce programs committed to providing opportunities to members of the community who live in areas of the city that have been historically neglected of city resources,” said Thomas. “Lets work together to make 2021, the best year ever."
The councilman is planning to host a second roundtable discussion with community based workforce organizations in the coming weeks. He's also requesting that the city of Dallas create a racial equity plan to address the disparities in city policies, and practices.