The Fort Worth City Council welcomed a large group of first-time council members in 2021, adding six new members to the nine-person council. After the May 7 elections, the council will have yet another new face as District 4 council member Cary Moon leaves City Hall.
Four candidates are vying for Moon’s open seat: Alan Blaylock, James McBride, Tara Wilson and Teresa Ramirez. Ramirez did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Three of the four candidates – Blaylock, McBride and Ramirez – were thrown a wrench in their campaign by redistricting. All three of the candidates were moved out of District 4 under the new council map.
With only one year left in Moon’s current term, the candidates will have to run again in 2023. Although the change doesn’t impact their current candidacy, they would not be able to run in District 4 again unless the maps change or they move into the district.
District 4 spans across east Fort Worth, stretching from south of Loop 820 including far east neighborhoods like Woodhaven. The district then skirts the far east border of Fort Worth and extends up to the northeast, including neighborhoods like Heritage and other neighborhoods east of Interstate 35.
Moon, the district’s current representative, chose to vacate the seat to run for Texas House District 93. Moon didn’t make it to that race’s runoff but reaffirmed his commitment not to run in City Council District 4 in a tweet after his defeat.
Moon was arrested for driving while intoxicated in October 2020. He later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor DWI charge on June 2, 2021.
Alan Blaylock first got involved in community service through his daughter’s parent-teacher association at Eagle Ridge Elementary. He also served as vice president of the Heritage Homeowners Association, one of the largest in the city, and he continued his volunteerism through other boards, committees and organizations.
Initially, he resisted Moon’s and others’ suggestion that he run because of disruption to his family, until he got the green light from his wife and two daughters. The former Nokia product manager is running on a passion to improve people’s lives.
“If someone comes to me with a problem, I try to solve it, sometimes to my detriment,” Blaylock said. “I always ask, ‘What can I do to help make things better?’ It’s a passion. I love it.”
To Blaylock, making people’s lives better means lowering taxes and improving safety.
“Taxes have been the No. 1 issue for almost 50% of the people we’ve talked to, and that spans the entire district from Woodhaven to Heritage. That has to be addressed.”
Blaylock would advocate for keeping the tax rate revenue neutral for existing properties and only taking additional revenue on new development across the city.
“For the life of me I cannot understand why any council member in any district would not want to provide some relief to homeowners,” Blaylock said.
He is also a strong advocate for youth sports. As president of the Heritage Hurricanes Swim Team and co-founder and treasurer of Swim North Texas, Blaylock has been a strong advocate for better recreational facilities in Fort Worth.
“I think one of the biggest tragedies in Fort Worth is the lack of focus on youth sports,” Blaylock said.
Blaylock has witnessed a decline in recreational investment in pools and other facilities. The historically high number of drowning deaths in Tarrant County illustrates the importance of robust swim facilities across the city.
Despite running in District 4, Blaylock would be able to occupy the office for only one year, under the city’s newly approved City Council maps.
Blaylock lives in Heritage, a neighborhood split by the city’s redistricting process. Blaylock advocated against the neighborhood being split by signing a petition against the change. A small piece of the neighborhood, which includes Blaylock’s home, was moved into the new District 10 under the new maps.
A lot could change in a year, he said, and he doesn’t want to spend too much time focusing on the new dynamics created by the council map.
“People can move,” he said. “I don’t see it as a big issue … I wouldn’t say it precludes (us) from consideration.”
Regardless, Blaylock said, his deep roots in Fort Worth allow him to be a representative for all of Fort Worth.
“I would be elected to represent District 4, so that’s my priority,” Blaylock said. “But I have compassion for the whole city, and I know the whole city.”
James McBride, who previously ran for mayor in 2019, discovered a passion for public service while he was a student at Tarrant County College. His campaign is focused on offering solutions to some of the city’s toughest problems.
McBride, the sports information director at Texas Wesleyan University, is also focusing on property taxes. He criticized elected officials for touting a lower tax rate that doesn’t actually lower taxes.
McBride proposes a hiring freeze for all city positions unless they provide an essential service like police and fire and then determine where positions could be consolidated or eliminated. When it comes to hiring for high-cost positions, like department managers, McBride would also urge the city to consider hiring less experienced candidates who would require lower pay.
The City Council should also consider conducting a forensic audit of all spending within the city, he said.
“Because we know that city government, or any kind of government, is really bloated,” McBride said. “I think we need to look at these departments to see if they need this money.”
To spur economic growth within the city, McBride advocates for other organizations like higher education and hospitals to prioritize innovation. By expanding vocational programs in Fort Worth, high schools will lead to a more highly trained workforce to support the city’s growth into the future, McBride said.
“I think we need to find ways to work better with the high schools inside the city of Fort Worth,” McBride said.
The city should be providing better training to police officers, McBride said. He criticized the Police Oversight Monitor Kim Neal for not taking a more proactive approach to improve police-community relations.
McBride also wants to include more psychology and sociology training within the police academy and a more robust citizens review board.
“I don’t think we’ve given police the skills to go out there and understand what they need to do to be successful at this job,” McBride said.
Also a victim of changes to the City Council map, McBride would be able to serve District 4 for only one year before his home in Carter Riverside is placed into the new District 11. He is committed to achieving his goals in two terms, or three years, in office.
“If I can’t get done what I want to get done in three years, then the city of Fort Worth’s got more problems than I’m going to be able to deal with,” he said.
Tara Wilson, who previously ran in District 4, said she’s hoping her broad experience in city government will carry her to the seat. Her campaign is focused on making life easier for the residents of District 4 through mobility improvements and wise investment of tax dollars.
The mother of three and emergency room nurse said she has the temperament and experience to be a consensus builder on the council and restore integrity to the council seat. It’s her service on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic that affirmed her dedication to service to the community.
“My desire is to amplify the voice of those who live in this district and let them be a part of the way money is spent in the city and where our dollars go with them in mind,” Wilson said.
Wilson argues her youth and experience will help her juggle a district that spans a broad set of priorities. Understanding the difference between District 4 north and south of Loop 820 will be key in ensuring she advocates for both areas effectively.
One thing both areas have in common is the desire for development and a feeling of being disconnected from the rest of the city, she said.
“Whether that be low investment in the east side or city services not being accessible in the north,” Wilson said. “That’s something that I want to focus on. I don’t want them feeling like that.”
Wilson wants to give District 4 residents a voice in the zoning process.
“I will be more of a community-minded leader, and really create opportunities for conversation to happen,” Wilson said.
Wilson is in favor of bond measures that would improve roads and access to green space within District 4.
“We have parts of the district that don’t have sidewalks that really need that money,” Wilson said. “I do support the bond measures that are coming up on the ballot.”
If or when the new council map goes into effect, Wilson’s current residence will fall in District 5. She said she purposefully chose not to purchase a home before knowing where the new District 4 lines will fall.
“I intentionally did not buy a house knowing that I would be running and knowing some of the tactics that get used in redistricting,” Wilson said. “Now that I know where the new lines of District 4 will be, I can now start pursuing the path down homeownership.”
The candidates recently spoke at a forum held April 14 by the Riverside Alliance. About 40 residents attended, according to moderator of the Riverside Alliance Rick Herring.
Ramirez is a member of the Fort Worth Police Department’s Neighborhood Watch Program, according to her website.
Ramirez’ website outlines four priorities: Police funding, reduced government spending, education and zoning. She promises to support every police funding initiative and reduce overall government spending.
He website also includes policies related to zoning, including an emphasis on support for residential development and opposition to large warehouse developments in the district.
“(Ramirez) has proven herself to her community that she is capable of working with our elected leaders at local and state levels and has been a voice that supports American Patriotism and truly lives by the United States constitution,” the website reads.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include information from candidate Teresa Ramirez’s campaign website.
Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.