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Moncrief takes reins as new Fort Worth mayor

By Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 reporter

Dallas, TX – Suzanne Sprague, Reporter: The scene at Fort Worth's city council chambers was a far cry from two years ago, following the last municipal election. While the oath of office was administered in 2001 with little fanfare, outgoing Councilman Jeff Wentworth said Tuesday's packed hall reminded him of one of the Council's biggest debates last year.

Jeff Wentworth, Fort Worth City Council: I'm afraid out city secretary must have mis-posted [sic] this meeting. People must think this is annexation or the city-owned hotel.

Sprague: The mood at City Hall was jocular, even when old controversies that some observers say hastened the retirement of Wentworth and Mayor Kenneth Barr came up. When he announced in March that he wouldn't seek a fifth term, Barr choked back tears, but yesterday he briefly laid out how he wants to be remembered.

Outgoing Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr: I think if my tenure here has proven anything, it's that you can be pro-neighborhood and pro-business at the same time and still do an outstanding job for the city and be a good public official.

Sprague: Former Tarrant County Judge and State Senator Mike Moncrief echoed those comments as he told supporters and city staffers what he had planned as Fort Worth's 43rd mayor.

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief: We will strongly promote growth and economic development, but we will do it in a way that protects and enhances the quality of life of our neighborhoods.

Sprague: Moncrief's address was brief and short on specifics. He didn't mention issues like annexation, a possible city-owned convention hotel or garbage pick-up that dominated his 50-day campaign. But Mayor Moncrief did pledge to cooperate closely with the host of public officials, including Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, who watched as he took the oath of office.

Mayor Moncrief: It is imperative for us to work on a regional basis with federal, state and county government, as well as with other cities such as Dallas, Arlington and Denton to address the challenges that are regional in scope yet local in their impact. I speak primarily of regional mobility and air quality in this regard.

Sprague: Moncrief cruised to victory over six other candidates with 61% of the ballots. His first act as mayor was to preside over a unanimous vote renaming Ralph McCloud as mayor pro tem. But some in the council chambers predicted the remainder of his tenure won't be as smooth. A looming budget deficit could mean higher taxes or reduced services, and more citizen protests at City Hall. Outgoing Mayor Kenneth Barr joked he would enjoy watching that debate from the comfort of the rocking chair he received as a thank you from the city. For KERA 90.1, I'm Suzanne Sprague.

Email Suzanne Sprague about this story.