For Wallace Bridges, victory in the June 18 runoff election was a sign to anyone outside of District 4 that they cannot control elections inside his neighborhood.
“This is about those kids who are falling between the cracks and have not had a voice and felt like there was no one who really understood the concerns of the community,” Bridges said.
Bridges came back in the runoff race to defeat Dr. Brian Dixon for a seat on the Fort Worth ISD school board by securing 51.68% of the votes. Bridges came in second on the first Election Day, but said he’s spent the time between knocking on doors and engaging voters.
“We felt the energy was moving in our direction…We felt this was a win for the people,” Bridges said. “They knew it was between what was right and what was wrong. And I think it sends a tremendous message for those who are outsiders that want to control elections inside District 4. It sends a tremendous message to those who are board members who still want to control District 4. This is a win for the people.”
Dixon said in an email that while the results are not what he hoped for, how to move forward is clear.
“We must recruit, onboard and support a superintendent fired up to trust their teachers and engage their students,” he said. “We must complete a safety audit of every campus to ensure our students have the cleanest air and the most protective environments. We must restore agency and autonomy to teachers and principals as subject matter experts in their arenas. Our school district deserves our undivided attention and I’m looking forward to help.”
The campaign trail was one filled with questions of residency. Bridges contends Dixon lives in Crowley ISD — where he co-owns a home, according to the Tarrant Appraisal District website — but Dixon filed to run with the address of 1109 E. Leuda St., which is in Fort Worth ISD. He told the Report he lives at the address and has a lease with the owner.
But Dixon claimed his homestead exemption on a property at 1104 E. Leuda St. When the Report visited both 1104 and 1109 E. Leuda St. homes, someone else lived there. Property owners cannot claim a homestead exemption on a home that is not their primary residence, Tarrant Appraisal District Executive Director Jeff Law confirmed April 21.
On June 17, Law told the Report that the exemptions department sent a re-application letter to Dixon to re-evaluate his homestead eligibility.
Dixon did not respond to the letter. The department sent him an intent to cancel letter, which will effectively remove his homestead exemption, Law said. Dixon has a property tax consultant on file, so the letter on cancellation will be sent to the consultant, Law said.
Dixon is allowed 30 days to protest the cancellation of the exemption, Law said. If he chooses to do so, he will get an Appraisal Review Board hearing date and will be allowed to argue his reasons to keep the exemption.
Bridges said he’s been a District 4 resident for 25 years, and he’s passionate about the children in the district and helping them succeed.
“I ran for this position, not because I’m looking for somebody to say ‘Hey, look what Wallace is doing,’ because I’ve been doing it for years,” Bridges said. “(I ran) because I believe that if we give the people a voice — and I’m an optimist when it comes to young people, I am an eternal optimist when it comes to families — that we can do better.”
Bridges is coming into the district at a crucial time. The board is in the midst of its superintendent search, having set the job posting at its last meeting. The district also will receive accountability ratings this summer after the pandemic caused a pause.
He said he’s excited to get started and his decisions always will come back to serving students. He wants to make sure the next superintendent has a proven track record to serve the kids in Fort Worth ISD.
“The bottom line, we don’t want to see these young people fall on the other side of that data,” he said. “When I look at that data, those are lives that will not have an opportunity because we’ve not been able to be on grade level when it comes to reading and math and all the other things that we know we have to be successful to get our kids going.”
Editor’s note: This story is updated from the original version to include Dr. Brian Dixon’s statement.
Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com. 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.