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A block of the Dallas City Council has been a pain in the neck for Mayor Eric Johnson for some time now. The group made Johnson’s life tougher when they voted to reduce the Dallas Police Department’s overtime budget. They didn’t make it any easier for the mayor when they approached him about communication breakdowns in the vaccine rollout.
The block includes council members Adam Bazaldua, Jaime Resendez and Paula Blackmon. Ahead of the May 1 election, Johnson endorsed opponents to two incumbents, Bazaldua and Resendez. Previous backers of Johnson have also contributed to one of Blackmon’s opponents.
The mayor did not respond to a request for comment.
Some mayors have come out against incumbents in the past, such as when former Mayor Mike Rawlings opposed Phillip Kingston’s run for a third term in 2017. But Johnson has previously not endorsed candidates, according to D Magazine.
In Bazaldua’s District 7, Johnson announced an endorsement for Donald Parish Jr., a local pastor and nonprofit founder.
“I’m truly honored to have earned the endorsement of The Honorable Eric Johnson in my race to represent District 7 on the Dallas City Council,” Parish Jr. wrote on Facebook. “This endorsement is a huge blessing, and I am beyond appreciative of his support.”
Bazaldua said he’s pissed off with election semantics. In almost every race, there are claims of stolen signs and propaganda.
“We’ve got the Dallas Police Association spreading a bunch of lies, putting up billboards, putting up signs with false narratives,” he said.
Mail from the shadowy group Keep Dallas Safe has floated around town, spreading false claims that several City Council members, including Bazaldua, voted to “defund” the police department. The department’s overall budget increased, but cuts were made to the overtime budget so funds could be reallocated to different programs.
At least two complaints were sent to the Texas Election Commission regarding materials Keep Dallas Safe distributed last year.
“We’ve got the mayor who is still whining about losing during the budget season because he can’t count to eight,” Bazaldua added. “So, instead of being a good leader and building consensus and working with colleagues, he thinks it going to be an easier route to just trick voters, put people that will be complacent leaders at City Hall and that’s how he’s going to count to eight.”
The mayor’s endorsement didn’t surprise him. He had been expecting it since last summer, although he wouldn’t say why. Still, he doesn’t know what the mayor’s end goal is. “I think that there is no real way to put your finger on what exactly is in that man’s mind,” he said.
In his endorsement of Parish, the mayor praised the candidate for “serving the residents of Dallas his entire life as a minister, nonprofit leader and community servant.”
Johnson added, “He genuinely cares about the people of District 7 and is someone who is committed to working with our police department, not against it, to make our neighborhoods safer.”
Johnson hasn’t yet made an endorsement in Blackmon’s District 9. However, the Dallas Morning News uncovered that some of the mayor’s past donors have been backing opponents to several incumbents, including Blackmon.
The donors, seven prominent business and professional leaders, each gave $1,000, the maximum campaign contribution, to opponents of Bazaldua, Blackmon and Resendez.
In August, Johnson restructured the Ad Hoc Committee on Legislative Affairs to remove Blackmon, the committee’s only Latino representative.
Johnson also endorsed Yolanda Faye Williams, who is looking to unseat Resendez in City Council’s District 5. “Yolanda Faye Williams has been a tireless advocate for the people of District 5, and she understands the issues facing voters working with her to reduce crime in our neighborhoods and bring new jobs to Dallas,” the mayor said of the endorsement.
Speaking to the Observer, Resendez said, “The mayor’s decision is indicative of his lack of respect for the residents of District 5.”
“What the mayor doesn’t get is that while we’ve been doing this work in our community, we’ve built bonds that can’t be broken,” he added in a post on Facebook. “No one person, no matter their title, can get in between us and the work we still have to do.”
Soraya Santos, who supports Resendez, thinks the mayor’s endorsements are divisive. “Looks like the ‘mayor of unity’ is only interested in lackeys around the horseshoe,” she said. “Resendez has never gone against the mayor, but he’s also strong: Johnson can’t push him around.”
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