Election Day is May 6 and the Fort Worth Report is committed to keeping you informed through our Election Central.
To help voters make informed decisions at the ballot box, we asked every candidate to respond to a candidate questionnaire intended to touch on the most pressing issues candidates may face while serving in elected office.
The candidate’s responses may be edited for grammar.
District 7 includes parts of central and northeast Fort Worth. To find out what district you live in, input your address here.
Municipal elections are coming up. Here are some key dates:
April 24: Early voting begins
May 2: Early voting ends
May 6: Election Day
Name: Caleb Backholm
Occupation: Insurance Agency Owner
What are your qualifications to serve on Fort Worth’s City Council?
Out of the candidates in the race, I have the most experience in standing up and fighting for what conservatives of District 7 care about.
I have voted in every election since high school, been elected twice to the school board, worked on major campaigns, was elected to the Republican State Convention, and have written, spoken, and worked for decades to promote the value of limited, conservative government. I know our challenge and I don’t back down.
What are your top two priorities if elected to City Council? Describe briefly how you would approach these priorities.
1. Conservative government. I have a lifetime record of speaking out publicly and working against the big-government ideas that have damaged so many of the nation’s cities. Whether it was the awful COVID shutdowns, weak crime policies, defunding the police, wasteful spending on drug and homeless policies, or handouts to corporate elites, government needs to stay in its lane. Good people get hurt when government goes bad.
2. Lower property taxes. I will prioritize this issue. Lowering property taxes has to be more important than most other items on the agenda or it won’t happen. That’s the problem now. I’ll give more details below.
How would you characterize the performance of city management over the past five years?
Unfocused. The city needs a “tightwad” money manager who will focus on reducing property taxes and building good streets and infrastructure. Once those two things are done well, then we can look at other priorities. If the 7th district doesn’t send someone like that to the council, who will?
What is the single biggest issue your particular district faces?
Most obvious? – streets and development. People are frustrated by the crowding.
Most long-term significance? – Leftist, big government policies being imported here. They are quite literally killing America’s big cities and there’s a reason people are fleeing them.
How will you balance the concerns of your district vs. the city as a whole?
I will focus on my district, but I think the concerns of this district are shared by many others also.
How can city leadership work to ensure all Fort Worth residents have equal access to city services regardless of race, ethnicity, gender and income?
Driveable streets and lower property taxes will have the same positive effect on every resident. We all win.
Fort Worth’s annual general budget is currently around $915 million; do you feel this budget is appropriate, too large, or too small? If too large or too small, briefly describe how you would propose amending the budget.
Too large. We need to cut property taxes. Here are some ways:
–Fort Worth started a Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity department a few years ago. That was a mistake. It’s an unhelpful focus on the identity classes of people rather than on competence and character. I would vote to eliminate the department entirely and put the money toward a property tax that benefits everyone.
-There is a current proposal to spend more tax dollars on homeless and low income housing. I oppose this. Homelessness is not caused by a lack of money alone, which means throwing more tax dollars at it won’t help the problem, it’ll make it worse.
As an example, the Seattle area spends about $1 billion per year on the homeless issue. Have you seen their homeless problem? It’s not about the money.
Instead, I would refer people to private churches and nonprofits that help people through building relationships with them. That’s the only thing that can work.
-Some city executive salaries are over double what our governor makes, and even more than the President. We could lower or freeze top salaries and still attract good candidates.
-Use the rising sales tax revenue to our advantage. As those revenues increase, we can cut back on property tax revenues. Over time, we would see income taxes not just stop rising, but actually decrease.
-We spent almost $30 million in economic development to attract new businesses last year, but I think cutting property taxes for the current residents is a higher priority, and low taxes would attract good businesses anyway. It’s a win/win.
In 2023 the city will levy a tax rate of $0.7125 per $100 of assessed evaluation. If you would advocate for decreasing/increasing the tax rate what would you cut/add?
Only two council members voted to lower the tax rate last year from the $0.7125 per $100 rate, Alan Blaylock and Michael Crain. I would have joined them with a 3rd vote, and would have voted to put it at $0.66 for a revenue neutral rate.
As Fort Worth grows, how can the city ensure it keeps up with the pace of development?
If we keep jacking up the property taxes every year maybe that’ll take care of the growth problem on its own. No one will be able to afford to move here.
Or, again… we focus on the street development, not over-building the neighborhoods, and cut taxes for the people who are here already. That’s my goal.
In the last year, the city council has limited opportunities for public comment and changed meeting schedules. How would you approach community engagement as a council member?
I am constantly talking with people, even those who disagree, and that won’t change. I will also make sure the city council meetings are open and easy for the public to give input on.
What role does the City Council have in policing? Please describe how city council members should work to ensure the safety of their constituents.
The City Council is the final point of authority for policing. Protecting the rights of the people from those who would infringe them is the primary role of any government anywhere, and Fort Worth is no exception. An honorable police force and a just court system are essential, and the city council is a major piece to make sure that happens.
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? If so, when.
Have you ever been convicted of a crime, in Texas or another state? If so, what crime and when.
You can find other candidates’ responses by reading our voter guide here. The candidate’s responses may be edited for grammar.