From ‘Absolute Shock' to ‘Not Surprised' Residents React to Caraway Guilty Plea

Dwaine Caraway pleaded guilty Thursday to federal corruption charges, admitting that he took nearly $500,000 in bribes and kickbacks tied to the Dallas County Schools scandal.

Reaction to the latest scandal to hit the Dallas City Council, especially southern Dallas leaders, ranged from "absolute shock" to "not surprised at all."

On his Community Forum show Thursday afternoon, KHVN news director, Robert Ashley, heard from a number of Caraway's constituents and several people claiming to have known Caraway for decades.

"All of his life I have called Dwaine and told him, 'Man, you need to chill,'" said one caller.

Ashley has been the voice of Heaven 97 through a number of political scandals in Dallas, but he said Caraway's case is different.

"It's the biggest scandal, seemingly, in the African-American community with Dwaine Caraway being perhaps one of the most powerful leaders in city hall," Ashley said. "It's a disgrace and we've got to do better."

Before Thursday's guilty plea Caraway's legacy was well cemented in southern Dallas. He lead the charge on several economic development projects including the Glenn Oaks Crossings shopping center.

His effort to clean up Dallas resulted in the closing of seedy motels and a five-cent fee for using plastic bags, which was ultimately overturned by the city council.

For some of Ashley's callers the goodwill Caraway had built up is gone, others believe it's his saving grace, a reason to forgive him.

"I've seen a lot of wonderful things that God has used this man for. Don't just discount all the positive things and all the years that Dwaine has given in service to this city," said one caller.

"He got how much? Half-a-million dollars? He is the poster boy of betrayal of black politicians and elected officials in this city," said another caller.

For many in Caraway's district his fall from grace represents the loss of an ally.

"There is a void and a voice to be filled," said Taylor Toynes, founder of For Oak Cliff. Many of the children the organization serves are in Caraway's district. Toynes said he is concerned that the community will not have a voice until a special election can be held.

"How do we move forward? What are the next steps? What do we need to do to organize as a community to make sure that our interests are still being represented during this time?

Toynes serves on the city's parks and recreation board. His cellphone was constantly vibrating with messages from friends telling him to run for Caraway's seat.

Toynes doesn't live in District 4 so he cannot run, but he is confident that someone will step up and take Caraway's seat.

"It's a wild time, but I will say this: Being from Oak Cliff you know we are resilient. I have never seen something where the community of Oak Cliff is like, 'Woe is me,'" he said.

"We don't get down like that. We understand what the issue may be, but were built to keep moving forward."

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