Steve Penate is a 37-year-old Real Estate Broker in Fort Worth who is seeking the mayor’s seat in a crowded May 1 election.

Penate is a Christian with conservative values, he said, and is one of the founding pastors and elders of Mercy Culture Church in Fort Worth. He serves on the boards of Calvary Christian Academy, a private K-12 school, and The Justice Reform, a non-profit that fights human trafficking, he said. He is the visionary and founder of Distinct, a ministry to marketplace leaders. 

Penate earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and has worked both in the financial and non-profit sectors, according to his bio statement. 

Penate is married to Esther, and they have two daughters, Hadassah, 3, and Honor, 8 months.

Penate is seeking the mayor’s seat as the replacement for Mayor Betsy Price, who announced in January that she would not seek a seventh two-year term. Price, 71, was first elected in 2011.

The Report sent Penate a questionnaire to see where he stands on issues important to Fort Worth.

Q: Why are you running? What got you interested in city politics?

I am running because I see a need for Christian, conservative values back in public office. Our values are under attack, and I want to take a stand for the values we hold dear.

Q: What are the two most important issues you see facing the city?

Again, our conservative values being lost is the No. 1 issue facing the city of Fort Worth. We must protect our way of life and our family values. The Fort Worth budget is also full of wasteful spending. If we can cut the budget down, we would lower taxes across the board. The people of Fort Worth are being gouged by property taxes and that has to change. 

Q: What sets you apart from the rest of the field?

I am not a politician. I will fight for Fort Worth and stand up with a backbone against the left and the establishment. 

Q: Name a past accomplishment that you are proud of and explain why.

I am one of the founding pastors of Mercy Culture Church. This is my greatest accomplishment because I have the privilege of creating an atmosphere in which people can come and worship God. I am so proud of the way my Church has impacted the City of Fort Worth with its creation of the Mercy Culture Food Bank and The Justice Reform. 

Q: As mayor, how do you plan to bring more people to the table so that more voices are reflected in the Council’s decisions? Why is it important to ensure our city is inclusive?

As mayor, I will lead from the front. I will listen to all communities across Fort Worth and find commonality in their voices to come up with solutions to problems facing each community. I will also surround myself with wisdom to advise me on issues that I am not an expert on. 

Q: Public safety is an important issue this election. How will you ensure that people feel safe in the city while also balancing the need to make sure the Fort Worth Police Department treats everyone equally regardless of their race?

I vow to back the blue. Our law enforcement needs to be fully funded and supported. As mayor, I will build a culture of transparency and mutual respect between or law enforcement and citizens. While the police officers in Fort Worth will be held accountable, so will the people. With a fully funded and trained police department that is respected and transparent, we can build a safer city for all communities in Fort Worth. 

Q: Economic development is a major issue for the city. How does your background help the city strive toward luring more companies to relocate here and start more homegrown businesses? Why is economic development important for residents?

I am a business owner and I handle a multi-million-dollar budget. I understand the need for economic development and growth in the city, and I know how to manage a budget. I also understand that the mask mandates and the shut-downs crippled the back-bone of our economy: small businesses. We must make sure our small businesses have all the support they need to be successful. That is how we ensure a healthy economy. 

Q: Mayor Betsy Price has touted that the city has been able to shave off 12 cents from the tax rate, which is currently 74.75 cents, during her time in office. How do you strike a balance between a low rate and ensuring City Hall is able to meet the growing needs of Fort Worth, maintain existing infrastructure and attract more business here?

We must find wasteful spending in the budget and cut it out. Additionally, we must partner with the private sector when it comes to building infrastructure and lowering spending. The trimmer the budget, the lower our tax rate can be.

Q: The next mayor will likely lead the city out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Why are you the person to help the city and business community bounce back from the virus?

I will ensure that no businesses need to shut down due to government mandates. Additionally, people can assess their own risk. The government should never be in the business of mandating health. Especially not when it comes to forcing individuals to wear masks. 

Q: Fort Worth ISD has dozens of underperforming schools, according to state accountability ratings. Good, high quality schools are a part of the economic development puzzle that would help bring more people and business. How can the city help the district as it tries to improve its schools?

We have to support the school district and hold them accountable to the curriculum they are teaching. We must fight against the liberal ideologies infiltrating our schools. Additionally, decisions have to be made as close to the teachers as possible. They know the needs of the children and they should be the ones with the influence into what the kids learn. As mayor, I will be loud about these issues and use my influence to positively affect these areas. 

Editor’s note: Some of Mr. Penate’s answers were lightly edited for brevity and style.

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His work has appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram, The Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer. He is a graduate of St. Edward’s University....

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