Posted inLocal Government

Fort Worth council member Firestone won’t seek re-election; 4 seats will be open in May

Fort Worth’s City Council is “well poised and prepared for change,” outgoing council member Leonard Firestone said Thursday following his announcement that he will not seek re-election in 2023.

Firestone, an entrepreneur who co-founded the Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company, will exit the council after serving just one term. His decision not to run was a family one, he said.  

“We’ve got kids going in a lot of different directions and it was hard to manage,” Firestone said. “You only get one shot at them growing up, and so I really didn’t want to miss out on anything.”

Firestone represents most of far north Fort Worth. His district also extends into the Cultural District, including Dickies Arena and Will Rogers Memorial Center.  

Municipal elections are coming up. Here are some key dates:

  • Jan. 18: Candidates can begin filing 
  • April 6: Last day to register to vote
  • April 24: Early voting begins 
  • May 2: Early voting ends 
  • May 6: Election day

Firestone filled the seat vacated by longtime District 7 council member Dennis Shingleton, who decided not to run for re-election in 2021. Firestone was among a group of freshman council members elected in the 2021 cycle, including Elizabeth Beck, Michael Crain, Chris Nettles and Jared Williams. 

“I certainly appreciate the job that he has done this past two years,” Shingleton said. “District 7 has its hands full trying to select somebody that is a good leader and knows the neighborhood, knows the district.”

Firestone served as chair of several committees, including the newly formed Entrepreneurship and Innovation committee focusing on attracting entrepreneurs and investment to the city. Council member Michael Crain, who represents southwest Fort Worth, serves as vice chair on the committee. 

“It will definitely be a loss for the council,” Crain said. 

As an entrepreneur, Firestone brought a unique perspective to the job of council member, Crain added. 

Firestone focused on amplifying Fort Worth’s strengths to a national audience. He attributed the City Council’s emphasis on business development to Mayor Mattie Parker, who appointed Firestone to be chair of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation committee. 

“She’s the one who’s really leading that charge,” Firestone said.  “We have those, both in the public sector and private sector, that are stepping forward to help where they can in her economic initiatives.” 

“If we can do a better job to amplify Fort Worth regionally, nationally and internationally, people will have a better understanding of the business climate here,” Firestone previously told the Report.

Firestone’s committee was instrumental in partnering with Quinn PR, which promoted the city’s bitcoin mining operation

Firestone is also chair of the Audit Committee and serves on the Mobility: Infrastructure & Transportation committee and as president of the Fort Worth Sports Authority. 

Firestone cited appropriating money to road construction in his district as a major accomplishment during his first year in office. 

He has been a strong advocate for the city’s police department, and was among the five council members who voted against a proposal to establish a community police advisory board after Police Chief Neil Noakes said he didn’t think it was the appropriate solution to improving police relations in the city. 

Firestone, along with his fellow council members, approved a 2023 budget that includes funding for 53 new police officer positions and 14 new civilian positions. 

Firestone’s decision not to run in 2023 guarantees four open council positions will be up for election. Following the city’s redistricting process, there are two new city council districts with no incumbent. 

District 10, one of the new districts, is in far north Fort Worth and includes Texas Motor Speedway. The area was previously represented by Firestone. Council member Alan Blaylock, who currently represents District 4, said he will run for the seat, leaving District 4 without an incumbent. 

District 11, the other new district, includes parts of east Fort Worth with an arm that extends into south-central Fort Worth. Several candidates have signaled an interest in running for the seat. 

“I hope that whoever comes in those positions, comes with an open mind and an understanding that this is what makes cities better… is that collegiality and civility,” Crain said. 

Firestone faced a crowded field running for the District 7 seat in 2021. Firestone defeated Zeb Pent, another entrepreneur, in a runoff with 55% of the vote. Eight other candidates also ran for the seat in 2021.  

“I don’t get to choose who I work with, the voters do,” Beck said of the upcoming council elections. “… I look forward to doing great work with them the same way I’ve had the opportunity to do some great work with the people I serve with now.”

Firestone will serve the remainder of his term as council member, which will end in early summer. By then, the Fort Worth City Council will have at least three new members. 

“I think it’s gonna be an exciting time,” Firestone said. 

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.

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or via Twitter.

Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or via Twitter

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