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Dallas Council District One Candidates Civil, Strongly Different In Debate

Bill Zeeble

The debate was civil Thursday night in one of Dallas’ hottest  city council races, between incumbents Delia Jasso and Scott Griggs. There are big differences between the two, where re-drawn council districts covering North Oak Cliff forced the face-off.

  Gas drilling is one of the biggest issues in this District One race. Both Scott Griggs and Delia Jasso oppose shale drilling on Dallas park land. But Griggs goes further. He thinks it’s unsafe in an urban area, period. He says ‘fracking’  also pollutes millions of gallons of water and disposing of that liquid has been tied to earthquakes.

“I take a stand. I’m the candidate with courage and conviction to get out in front of the issue and protect the public from dangerous gas drilling and protect our quality of life.”

Delia Jasso is more cautious about such adamant opposition. She says because the city granted a multi-million drilling lease five years ago but has so far denied the company three drilling permits, the city’s attorney has warned saying more could be legally risky. She rejects Griggs' accusation that she’s hiding behind the attorneys.

“I don’t’ think I’m hiding behind the city attorney.  I think I’m following the legal advice we’ve been given as sitting council members. If there’s another way to get this done we need to look at it.”

On the long-standing issue of the Trinity River toll road and parks project, Griggs is clear on the still controversial question of building a road inside the river levees.

“I’m opposed to the toll road between the levees.  The toll road will be over $1.5 billion project. It remains unfunded. The proposed toll road will not connect to I-30 or I-35 and relieve traffic from either.”

Griggs says the promised recreational and environmental benefits of the Trinity River project have been a disaster. Jasso at times, also questioned the toll road plan.

“I think we need to take a look at the toll road to see what else we can do with it, are we committed to the toll road? There’s been a referendum  on that. Our citizens voted to have a toll road and we need to do what the citizens want.”

Jasso and Griggs discussed many other issues, from whether to raise tax rates, to the role Dallas can play in education. In the Methodist Hospital auditorium, where nearly a hundred people attended, many already favored one candidate over the other. Ann Tomaszewski’s view was different. 

“They are both very valuable and very, very knowledgeable and both hard workers. I would love to see some way to get them both on the city council at the same time.”

They are now, but not for long. Early voting starts April 29th. May 11th is election day. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.