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Dallas Mayoral Candidate Marcos Ronquillo Says 'People Are Voting With Their Feet'

Marcos Ronquillo Campaign

Voters in Dallas will decide between two candidates for mayor Saturday: Incumbent Mike Rawlings and challenger Marcos Ronquillo.

The Lake Highlands attorney has never held elected office. But writing an academic paper on population growth and community challenges in Texas convinced Ronquillo he could make a difference in the Mayor’s office.

Interview Highlights: Marcos Ronquillo...

...On the mayor’s role in running the school district:

“When we have any kind of programs or initiatives like the home rule, we need to have community-based initiatives, not top-down driven initiatives. More importantly, we need to involve seasoned educators, parents and the community when we talk about strategies to help our school district.

The mayor needs to develop neighborhoods and every neighborhood needs to have a great local elementary neighborhood school. I’m talking about a school where kids can go to school  on sidewalks that aren’t crumbling, where they don’t have to step over potholes, they don’t have to go across abandoned property or businesses, that there’s a 24/7 wraparound with respect to the neighborhood.

You take the neighborhood as a living, growing organism, an ecosystem. You look at nutrition, food deserts, transportation, housing, pre-K, after-school programs. Between 2004 and 2011, we had lost close to $4.8 billion in taxpayer base. People are voting with their feet – they’re moving to the suburbs. We are disconnected as a city in terms of where people live and where they work.”   

…On his take on why bonds aren’t going to infrastructure:

“I’ll give you the best glaring example. In 1998, we passed a $246 million Trinity River Corridor Project bond issue for a park and a parkway. Today, you and I sit here in 2015 – we don’t have a park, we don’t have a parkway. We have no money for the park. I think we need to look at that. “

…On his stance on the Trinity River Parkway:

“I want to get rid of the toll road. A toll road is not a parkway. A parkway is not a toll road. What happened in 1998 is that we voted on a park and a parkway. Today, we don’t have a park or a parkway. What we’re messing around with is a $1.5 billion toll road.

Someone was asleep at the switch because as far as I know, there never was a debate, there never was a town hall meeting, and there certainly wasn’t a referendum or a vote by the city of Dallas to basically promote a $1.5 billion toll road.”

..On his plan to revive struggling neighborhoods:  

“We have over 400 neighborhood associations in Dallas, big and small. They have one thing in common: They don’t have a voice at City Hall. We need to bring an official group together to give them a voice, to let them give input to the city in terms of what are the needs of the neighborhoods.

We should have one big department: the Department of Neighborhoods. Everything from your utility services, your tree ordinance, your pothole repairs, should go through that neighborhood department. Elevate it so it’s above every department and everything reports to that neighborhood director.”     

Election Day

Election Day is May 9 – find a map of polling locations here.

Listen to Rawlings' interview

You can also listen to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ interviewhere

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.