What’s on the Nov. 8 Ballot?

Please let your voice be heard on election day, November 8. There will be a referendum on proposed Dallas City Charter changes, a City bond initiative for a homeless assistance center, and proposed State Constitutional changes.

There has been a lot of controversy the last few days about some councilmembers withdrawing their support for the stronger mayor proposal on the ballot. I just wanted you to know where I stand.

I opposed the Blackwood strong mayor proposal in May because it was a poorly thought-out Charter amendment that lacked checks and balances. I pledged to support an alternative proposal and bring it before the voters. I stand by that pledge.

I believe that Proposition 1 will make our city government more accountable and responsive to the residents of Dallas. In particular, it will let the Mayor hire and fire the City Manager and increase the Mayor’s authority over the budget. We need to have a form of government in which our chief administrator is directly responsive to our top elected official. It is important to take personalities out of this issue, and focus on what is best for the City of Dallas in the long term. I encourage you to vote in favor of Proposition 1.

Our Charter is like our city’s constitution: it dictates how our city is governed and how the power is divided among the different branches of government. The proposed Charter changes are set forth in 13 separate propositions on the ballot. I’ve put together an explanation of the ballot initiatives in plain language.

I support all of these changes to our City Charter except for Proposition 10, which changes the name of the Fire Department to “Fire and Rescue” Department. Firefighters tell me they don’t want the name change, and kept silent until now out of respect to the former Fire Chief who supported the change. I think our first responders should choose the name of their department, and if they want it to stay “Fire Department,” then so be it. I urge you to vote “no” on Proposition 10.

You can see a redlined version of the Charter here.

Proposition 14 is for a $23 million bond package to build a homeless assistance center (the location for the center is not part of the election). The assistance center is not a shelter, but a facility to help the homeless get off the streets by providing mental health services, drug rehabilitation resources, job training resources, and other services.

Dallas has failed for too long to address our homeless problem. While the assistance center is not a complete solution by itself, it is an important step in the right direction, and I support it. We must get our homeless of the streets, both for humanitarian reasons and to lessen the detrimental economic and public safety effects on our city.

You can early vote through November 4. Check out http://www.dalcoelections.org for locations and times. To see the proposed changes to the Texas Constitution, go to the Texas Secretary of State website: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/2005novconsamend.shtml.

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