Dallas mayor makes final inaugural address


Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings spent much of his final inaugural address speaking about issues dominating the national political stage. He made the speech as four new city council members were sworn in.

Three incumbents, who were backed by Rawlings, lost re-election. They’re being replaced by Omar Narvaez, Kevin Felder and Tennell Atkins. Atkins has served on the council once before.

Dwaine Caraway defeated incumbent Carolyn King Arnold, who replaced him two years ago when he was forced to leave because of term limits.

Rawlings has two years left before his term ends. It took the mayor until page 12 of his written speech to make mention of one of Dallas' biggest issues — an $800 million bond package to repair the city's dilapidated streets. And he barely made mention of the Dallas police and fire pension crisis that's dominated the news this year.

The mayor began his final inaugural address talking about President Donald Trump's travel ban, which led to protests at DFW Airport.

"It was two days after our new president issued his executive order barring visitors from predominately Muslim countries,” he said. “The eyes of the world were on Dallas and other international hubs around the country."

Rawlings’ speech focused mostly on big issues like partisan fighting in Washington, D.C., the downfalls of social media and immigration.

"Our Latino brothers and sisters are not criminals,” he said. “And our local police officers have more important things to do than act as immigration agents."

The mayor later worked to tie it all into the decisions he and 14 council members can make.

“We are the ones that have the most impact on our constituents’ quality of life,” he said. “Climate change, women's rights and the ever growing massive income gap."

Rawlings only briefly touched on the upcoming bond election that has been delayed from a vote in May. The bond would primarily provide money to repair the city's crumbling streets. It would also help fund city parks and safety upgrades that the Dallas Police Association has been asking for.

In the end, the mayor, who will be working with four new council members, called for unity.

“If we want to, we can perpetuate that there is a divide between Old Dallas and New Dallas,” he said. “But we have no real choice. We must embrace a new Dallas.”

The four new members could shift the balance of power away from Rawlings. Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax encouraged them to keep an open mind and have an open heart.

Next week, the council will decide the priorities for the $800 million bond proposal which could be put before voters in November.

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