Monday Night Politics forum features commissioners, state representatives
DIANE XAVIER | 10/31/2016, 5:14 p.m.
The Dallas Examiner
Monday Night Politics: Meet the Candidates, presented by The Dallas Examiner, returned Sept. 12 to the African American Museum in Fair Park, featuring candidates involved in the Nov. 8 general election.
The offices that were invited included Dallas County Commissioner’s Court District 3 candidates, with incumbent John Wiley Price of the Democratic ticket and Republican candidate S.T. Russell; Commissioner’s Court District 1 candidates, with incumbent Dr. Theresa Daniel; and State District House Representative 113, with incumbent Cindy Burkett and opponent Rhetta Andrews Bowers. Candidates spoke during the last portion.
The evening began with Commissioner’s Court District 3. Price, who has been in this seat for 31 years, spoke first. His opponent was not present at the forum.
“One of the thing that bothers me about Dallas County is that the people have no idea of what county government is and what it entails,” Price told the audience. “One of the things that happened with the tax raising is you must understand the revenues of Dallas County. Dallas County is 955 square miles, and you divide the county into four quadrants. Unfortunately, to have the court that we have now, I have 40 percent of the county, and it should be near equal both geographically but especially population wise.”
Price said Dallas County is 2.4 million people, and each commissioner has 682,000 people in their respective district.
“Dallas County is the second largest county in this state, and we are the ninth largest in the country,” he said. “We have overall 254 counties, and we have the sixth lowest tax rate of any county. If you look at us in terms of urban counties, then we are the second lowest tax rate in terms of urban counties. When you look at all of that and say what does that all mean, I have been a member of the ranking commissioner’s court for 31 years, and we have taken your tax rate and kept it the same over 15 years, and we have raised your taxes four times in 31 years, and that’s it.”
Price also mentioned that out of the 15 standing committees, he chairs eight of them in Dallas County; which includes the jail population, civil service, and bioterrorism and safety. He is also vice chair of the Dallas County juvenile board.
“Sixty-eight percent of what you do is criminal justice. That jail costs you, if I can manage the population under 5,500, every month we tax you over $11 million for the Dallas County Jail,” Price said.
The following questions were asked to Price regarding his re-election bid.
Q: What type of initiative for your next term can citizens assist you with regarding the criminal justice system?
Price: We got to manage that population, because over 30 percent of the Dallas County jail is mentally challenged, and at minimum, the Dallas County jail is larger than 80 percent of the cities in the state of Texas. We serve 9.3 million meals a year, we do a million pounds of laundry, and we try to divert people, so I need the judges, and that is what they do is to try to divert as many people as possible with regards to the Dallas County jail. We spend $193 million dollars of your money to bring the jail into compliance.