The Dallas Examiner
Monday Night Politics: Meet the Candidates continued this spring with candidates running for local offices in Southern Dallas such as the city of Duncanville, which was featured on March 28 with the offices of mayor and City Council District 2 and District 4 up for grabs.
The event took place at the African American Museum in Fair Park and was moderated by Matt Houston. None of the candidates for District 2 were present at the forum and included candidates Steven Rutherford and Gwenda Joyce Lowe.
For District 4, candidate Lorraine Hood-Jack was present. Ron Dotson was not present.
The discussion began with the candidates for mayor speaking about their qualifications for the job and included incumbent Mayor David L. Green and opponent Mark D. Cooks.
Green began the forum acknowledging his opponent.
“First of all, Mark is a good candidate and I am good also,” Green said. “We’ve probably known each other for 25 years. I started with the city of Duncanville in 2001 serving on the City Council and then being mayor pro tem in 2002. I also served as mayor from 2004 to 2012. At that period, we had a number of people file for mayor from 2012 to 2014 and I had filed late and there was some confusion so I lost 100 or so votes and ended up losing that race in that period. I came back and ran in 2014 because I felt like there was so much going wrong with Duncanville. I am running for one more term for the simple fact that in the last two years we have implemented a tremendous change in Duncanville. That change is now being put into fruition doing a master plan for the field house and converting it and turning it into a profitable situation. We’ve opened up the council where citizens can observe all of our sessions. We’ve done a lot but we have more to do with change of neighborhoods and economic development.”
Cooks is a Dallas native who worked as a banker for the past three decades.
He currently works at Wells Fargo Banks as a senior vice president and community banking district manager in Dallas.
“As I moved to Duncanville 10 years ago, I saw a need and desire for another candidate to come and work with our policy-making at Duncanville,” he said. “Duncanville is a very unique city because there is not another city that will have diversity all the way across. We are almost third across the board in population. However, our leadership in Duncanville needs to reflect that diversity. There needs to be another voice at the table. I ran for council in 2012 and wore out three pairs of shoes knocking on every door and talking to people who were not involved in politics and I kept hearing the same issues. I saw a need to work with our economic development and currently the president of the economic development for the city of Duncanville. I am charged with working with businesses and bring great businesses to Duncanville. I think we can grow our city through small businesses. Our city is 12 square miles and we have enough businesses to become the small business capital city of the Southwest.”
Cooks also discussed how he could make Duncanville a better place with his platform.
“Duncanville is a small city with a population of 39,000,” Cooks said. “We are a city where we are closed in from Cedar Hill, to DeSoto to all around. Bringing in small businesses that can help our tax base and help our property taxes is beneficial. Also, working to better our education system is also critical and we need city management to work with our education system.”
Green talked about how he would continue serving the city as mayor and what he would do to help improve the city.
“What my immediate priorities are to continue to accelerate economic development,” Green said. “Our school district is three times the size of Duncanville and we do need to work with our education system. We have a new superintendent and we are going to have joint meetings with our educational team. We are also putting together a four-legged system which we are working on and that includes our city, school system, chamber of commerce and our faith-based community. ”
Both candidates were then asked about their professional backgrounds and how they can contribute to the city of Duncanville
Green said he was in the logistics and warehousing business for 40 years and was president and CEO of his company, Dallas Commercial Warehouses Inc.
“I’m also past Chamber of Commerce president,” Green said.
Cooks said he has been with Wells Fargo for the past 22 years.
“I serve as senior manager and district manager where I manage eight different stores,” Cooks said. “What that means to me is that customer service and partnership is key. In my position I build partnerships with other organizations and that partnerships is what I will bring to the city.”
The candidates were then asked how they would help small businesses and ethnic populations gain access to capital.
Green said it is important to have a business plan when you come in, especially for small businesses.
“We have two or three new banks in the area,” Green said. “We can give references to the small businesses to go to the bank and will have a much better chance of getting the loans.”
Cooks said he would like to form a small task force with the banking partners.
“It’s just not the chamber and just not the banks, but other partners that will allow us to partner together with them to move forward.”
The candidates then talked about how they could team up with other southern cities in the area to bring economic development to South Dallas.
Cooks said it takes multiple cities together to build Southwest Dallas.
“We are also individually linked as well,” Cooks said.”You have DeSoto who has built warehouses and you have Cedar Hill who has retail and so how do we link those things together is that those small businesses has to build somewhere first and I say you build here in Duncanville first and we partner with the city of Dallas and with GrowSouth and make sure we are all on the same page.”
Green said his staff has reached out to the GrowSouth project.
“The small stores and the mom and pop shops are the things we are going after,” Green said. “We are working with the other cities in best southwest because other cities such as DeSoto or Lancaster may put in a large project which can also benefit Duncanville through homes, restaurants and hotels which will all benefit Duncanville because what is going up in nearby cities.”
The candidates were then asked how they can help the education system in Duncanville by helping its graduates come back and serve the city after they get their college degrees.
Green said it is important that the City Council and school trustees work together.
Cooks thanked the magnet school he went to in Dallas for his successful banking career.
“It was because of the mentorship I received at that magnet school in Dallas that I went to that has helped me as a person and my career,” Cooks said. “Because of people that looked like me that came into that school and was talking to students and allowed students to know what the business world looked like, helped us. What I plan to do as mayor is to implement a plan where we have more mentorship in our schools so that students know that they can not only do well in school but go back out and reinvest in their community.”
The next forum included City Council District 4 with candidate Lorraine Hood-Jack.
“I have been a resident of Duncanville since May of 2010,” she said. “I want you to know that I hit the ground running. I started attending council meetings and getting involved in the city because I think where you live, you need to work. You need to understand how your government works, who your players are and if you don’t like what you see, you need to get more involved. I ran in 2014 and am running again. I am a people person. The reason why I am running again is because of absence. In the last two years, I reviewed all of the council minutes, and for 52 meetings, 25 of those were later absent. I think that if we are going to serve this community, then we need to be there. You can’t serve people in your district when you are not there and represent them and advocate on their behalf.”
Hood-Jack is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and has a Bachelor of Arts in government and has a master’s in public administration from Portland State University.
“I have a passion for people,” she said. “I want to be the next City Council District 4 member because I believe that when I am at council meetings I can see things on how the city is divided into one-thirds, one-thirds and one-thirds of different ethnic populations and how I can help all of them.”
Hood-Jack is also a member of the Trinity Chapter of The Links Inc. and her background is with General Electric Power Systems. Prior to that she was with Union Pacific Railroad.
“My entire career has been supervising male engineers in predominately a male-dominated workforce,” she said. “Because of that, I want young women to understand that you can be a girl and still run the show. I am also a mentor for girls at a STEM program at a local school.”
Hood-Jack said after she graduated from UT, she went to work for Union Pacific Railroad and managed the rail and engine crews for a 2500 predominately male workforce.
“It was a real initiation into adulthood,” she said. “Most of the people that worked for me did not look like me and that was a challenge. With General Electric company, I managed 13 states, another predominately male workforce, but it taught me to work well with others and that is what I see is a need for this council.”
Hood-Jack said she would like to see targeted economic development for District 4.
“There are several strips of land that are strip mall-like and they are sitting vacant,” she said. “I see the potential for one of them to be developed into something that is much larger retail than we have in Duncanville and I also see an opportunity for some smaller businesses to move into the city as well.”
Hood-Jack explained her short- and long-term plans if elected to the City Council.
“I would like to marry my strategic planning background with the work and strategic plans of the city,” she said. “My short term plans include to improve communications and we need better signage for the rest of the city.”
Hood-Jack was asked how she would get residents to get more involved in their communities.
“I think that getting communities through their HOA’s and through groups that are working together in the city and even with the churches and getting some movement where people are aware of what they can get involved in is important,” Hood-Jack said.
Hood-Jack also said to improve education, we need to hold parents more accountable for their child’s education.
“We so often rely on our superintendent and educations that we often let parents off the hook,” she said. “There needs to be some program where parents are involved so they can see how their kids are acting and show up at meetings.”