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 3 includes parts of southwest 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: Michael D. Crain
Occupation: Real Estate Broker
What are your qualifications to serve on Fort Worth’s City Council?
Having served in various public capacities at the federal, state and local level in addition to running a small business, I believe I bring a unique perspective to the City Council. I understand the value of working together with my colleagues, citizens and interest groups to bring good policies to fruition. In addition, my business background means I appreciate a bottom line and spending taxpayer dollars wisely. I am looking forward to my second term and continuing to serve the people of District 3 and all the citizens of Fort Worth.
What are your top two priorities if elected to City Council? Describe briefly how you would approach these priorities.
With all the issues the city faces, boiling it down to two priorities is very difficult. With our continued growth, we must ensure the city is being developed smartly. We must continue to invest in infrastructure and city services to ensure a great quality of life for all. With increasing gun violence, keeping all citizens safe should be paramount. As we look to the future, having an educated, workforce-ready population will mean we can attract companies or foster small businesses here in the community. Accessible housing for every level of the socio-economic strata is key to that growth as well. Homelessness and mental health concerns are ticking upward and we will continue to those as a council. That’s just a short blush of all the issues we must address because they are all intertwined. Our city is no different than any other major urban environment and I look forward to continuing to address these and other issues in a manner befitting of Fort Worth.
How would you characterize the performance of city management over the past five years?
Running a $2 billion corporation – and let’s be frank, that’s exactly what the city is, a $2 billion corporation – is not an easy job. I believe we have some of the best city employees in the country. Collectively, they work hard to ensure city services are delivered as efficiently as possible. Our job as the City Council is to serve as the Board of Directors and hold staff accountable when we believe systems or processes are not serving the citizens well. Given the aftermath of COVID, I believe Fort Worth emerged better and stronger because we shored up our budget, ensured CARES Act dollars got directly into the hands of businesses which needed them and used additional federal dollars to invest in the city’s infrastructure. That took an educated, dedicated city staff in order to execute. I look forward to working with management and staff in this upcoming budget cycle to ensure we invest taxpayer dollars wisely for the benefit of all citizens.
What is the single biggest issue your particular district faces?
District 3 runs from roughly the TCU campus west all the way to Walsh in Parker County and from Ridgmar in the north to Mira Vista in the south. This encompasses over 87,000 citizens (almost 10% of the population) and almost 44 square miles (13% of the total land mass) of the city. With that large of a population and area, boiling it down to one issue is difficult. I have spent a significant amount of time finding ways to continue to manage our growth. We must protect our neighborhoods, but at the same time understand our city is growing at a rapid pace. This growth brings with it strains on resources. These are issues every large, growing environment faces and I believe I am well-equipped to work alongside my colleagues and city staff to ensure we continue to address those problems with solutions that work for Fort Worth.
How will you balance the concerns of your district vs. the city as a whole?
While I am elected to represent my district – and I will vigorously advocate for District 3 to get necessary resources – I do believe we must work together as a council to address larger issues facing the city. Taking a holistic approach to the well-being of all Fort Worth citizens is the only way we can continue to move Fort Worth forward. We are a diverse community with different neighborhoods, entities and people needing different things from their city. As we continue to grow, those differing needs won’t change and will only become more complicated. My hope is that working together as a council we can address those needs to ensure all Fort Worthians can live a productive, intentional life and thrive no matter their circumstances
How can city leadership work to ensure all Fort Worth residents have equal access to city services regardless of race, ethnicity, gender and income?
I think the council’s primary job is to ensure all citizens, regardless of their circumstances or zip code, have a great quality of life. Fort Worth should have safe streets, accessible housing, efficient city services, quality jobs and excellent opportunities for education. Too frequently it seems only the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I approach every issue, whether in my district or another, with the question “What is the best approach for all those concerned?” We’ve made incredible investments in projects and initiatives which are helping all parts of our community reach new heights. Have they totally impacted every part of the city at this point? No. Is there more work to be done? Absolutely. Am I committed to ensuring we put policies and plans in place which help strengthen neighborhoods, provide better access to jobs and increase the overall quality of life for all? You better believe it. The only way we make Fort Worth better is to ensure all have access to making a better life for themselves and their families. That’s what we must continue to do for the future of all Fort Worthians.
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.
There is no denying Fort Worth is a growing city. With that growth comes the investment in infrastructure and other city resources to ensure all citizens continue to have a great quality of life. I have worked with city management during the budgeting process to ensure Fort Worth has better, efficient city services. I have worked with our first responders to ensure they have the resources they need to continue to do their jobs. And I have worked with my council colleagues to ensure the projects they are championing for their individual districts come to fruition. All the while, I have championed to continue to reduce the property tax rate to provide tax relief to our citizens. We must continue to utilize taxpayer dollars wisely, as we balance the incredible growth our city continues to experience.
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?
As the only member of the current city council to vote to lower the tax rate below the management suggested rate, I will continue to advocate to do what we can at the city to lower property taxes. As with any government bureaucracy, there are cost savings and more efficient processes which can be implemented in every department. I will also continue to work with city management to find where taxpayer dollars can be better utilized and push for strategic investments which will further grow our overall tax base.
As Fort Worth grows, how can the city ensure it keeps up with the pace of development?
Given the vast expanse of District 3, I’ve worked closely with city management and staff to ensure we are investing in systems and processes to bring efficiency to our development department. My desire is to make it faster, easier and cheaper for all those – large companies and small businesses – who want to do business in Fort Worth. Having started a small business, I know that the process can be stifling. Through the creation of the Small Business Task Force, we are working hard to address the bureaucracy which increases the amount of time it takes to get a business open and operational. We can’t truly provide property tax relief until we have a balance between the commercial and residential tax base. And an expanded commercial tax base means better jobs for our citizens and better infrastructure across the city. Fort Worth is a “business-friendly” city but too often our bureaucratic processes slow down good commercial and residential development. As part of the process, we also must continue to maintain the sanctity of our neighborhoods as well as a commitment to providing green spaces for future generations to enjoy.
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?
When the new, much younger council came into office in 2021 we understood we all have other life commitments than just the supposedly “part-time” job of the city council. I have a wife, young daughters and aging parents with whom I’d like to spend time. I have a business to run. So, yes, the adjustment of the calendar of meetings was warranted and necessary. However, if you ponder my personal calendar, there isn’t an event I won’t try to make. I believe you lead by being out front and accessible, not sitting behind a desk. If you call my office, you get a live person answering the phone. If you send an email, you get a response. If you ask me if I can help, I try to do so. If you are actually working to address a true problem or have a concern, I am open and available to listen. If you are just trying to reach for 3 minutes of fame at a meeting to promote yourself or lob personal attacks, then I have no time for that nonsense and, frankly, the citizens of Fort Worth don’t deserve to have their taxpayer dollars wasted in that manner either. Fort Worth still has a very generous public comment period where citizens can speak freely about any concerns as compared to other major cities. In addition, citizens can still speak on specific agenda items and countless of individuals have done so over the course of the last year. I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of those citizens who have true problems and concerns with city policy.
What role does the City Council have in policing? Please describe how city council members should work to ensure the safety of their constituents.
Protecting our families is the top priority of the city. Safe neighborhoods improve quality of life and is the foundation for strong communities. The City Council approves the budget each year that provides funding for public safety and works with the Police Chief and stakeholders to ensure the city is implementing best practices to recruit, train and retain high quality police officers. As a business owner, I know the importance of taking care of one’s employees to be competitive and provide a high level of service to the customer. The same goes for our police department, who competes with our neighboring cities on recruiting the best talent. We’ve implemented a pay raise for new recruits and continue to invest in assets, technology and training so they can do their job properly. As Fort Worth grows, we must ensure Fort Worth continues to build on our successes and look for ways to improve police and community relations.
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? If so, when.
As a small business owner, I’ve experienced good, productive times and slow, financially more difficult times. My wife and I invested in a franchise which provided poor, unrealistic, unattainable financial outcomes. As part of the franchise, we were required to sign many, multi-year personal guarantees for rent, machinery and service items. In addition, we had issues with management, staffing, food costs and the general state of the service market. With all of those challenges, we were forced to file bankruptcy to sever contract liabilities. All taxes were paid, all employees were paid and vendors were paid. This process was devastating for me and my family and we lost virtually everything. We are slowly rebuilding – financially and mentally – from the whole experience. The positive outcome for us is that we have more empathy for those that struggle. We have more understanding for those entrepreneurs and small business owners who wake up, work and grind every day to just make it happen. Sometimes it does work and we applaud and celebrate those people. But the reality is, more often than not, businesses fail…and that’s okay. Failure happens all the time and we should embrace those times as learning lessons as well. We worked hard and took the chance, but ultimately the business failed. That outcome just leads one to be more resilient and find their passion elsewhere. I’ve found that passion serving the citizens of Fort Worth and continuing to move Fort Worth forward.
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.