No Dallas mayor in modern time has served as long as Mike Rawlings.
The mayor has termed out now and will give up his office to either Scott Griggs or Eric Johnson. This week, he sat down with FOX 4 Reporter Shaun Rabb to look back and forward.
Throughout his life, Rawlings said he had never really given back. And when he was approached to run, he thought maybe he could make a difference. If you ask him, he'll tell you he did.
Rawlings is the longest-serving Dallas mayor since R.L. Thornton in the 1950s.
“People were like, ‘He's not gonna last the first term. He's gonna run for a bigger office. He's using this for something else.’ And so I was bound and determined to serve it all out,” he recalled.
Rawlings has been very involved and vocal as a mayor on the subjects of education and police actions.
“As a public official, you need to try to take care of the issues at hand,” he said. “But what you’re really trying to do is build a foundation for kids in the future.”
Looking at the future of Dallas, the mayor says he’s worried about the children still in poverty.
“I’m really worried about this gap between the haves and have nots and how many children are growing up in poverty,” he said.
South Dallas is seeing some good growth. But the city is also wrestling with bad growth with the escalating homeless problem.
“It’s a combination of focusing on affordable housing and then, second, creating the immediate services that are there so people don’t stay in the state of homelessness,” Rawlings said.
As Rawlings readies to leave his post, he has some parting advice for whoever will be the next mayor of Dallas.
“This is not about you,” he said. “It’s about a bigger calling. It’s about your mission. It’s about our city. And our city is a very special place.”
Rawlings says the one thing the city should be proudest of is the improvements Dallas ISD has made. It went from a district with many schools needing improvement to a story that has become a model for urban education. The mayor says a solid education for our youth is what will keep Dallas growing and going.