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'Absentee' apartment owners, red light runners top Arlington City Council candidates' platforms

Arlington City Council listens to a public speaker Feb. 13, 2024, at the City Hall. Council members unanimously approved the settlement with Tavis Crane’s family as part of consent agenda items.
Dang Le
Fort Worth Report
Arlington City Council listens to a public speaker Feb. 13, 2024, at City Hall. Arlington voters will decide four city council seats during early voting April 22-30, 2024, and on election day May 4, 2024.

Public safety and thoughtful redevelopment are among the top priorities for Arlington City Council candidates across four seats.

Early voting runs April 22-30, and election day is May 4.

Arlington City Council is composed of five single-member district seats and three at-large. Residents in North and Southwest Arlington will decide their council seats, and all Arlington residents will vote for two at-large seats.

This election marks the last city council election cycle until 2026 as council transitions to three-year terms, which voters approved in 2022.

District 1

A picture shows three men's headshots. The man all the way to the left has a maroon shirt, glasses and a slight beard. The man in the middle has a black suit on and a light yellow tie. The man all the way to the right has a red tie and black suit.
North Arlington voters have three choices for their next city council member in the May 4, 2024 election. From left to right: Jacob Franklin, a tech support engineer; Tim Goss, an acting deputy director; and Mauricio Galante, a business owner.

Candidates for North Arlington’s city council seat say they would like to bring in more retail, shops and jobs, while addressing “absentee” apartment owners in a district known for its apartment stock.

Tim Goss, a federal government employee and one of three candidates in the open race, said recent developments like the Arlington Commons are a start, but the district is missing what he calls “complementary elements” like restaurants, retail and well-paying jobs.

“We’re not bringing in all that support infrastructure, whether it is the restaurants and jobs. Really, five years down the line, if we don’t bring jobs and other stuff in here for people to focus on, you’re going to (have) crime centers,” Goss said.

Goss said he would also like to address the uptick in petty crime in the district, as well as a higher number of people running red lights.

Golf Center of Arlington Owner Mauricio Galante, said lower-quality apartments in the area create a vicious cycle of cheap rentals that generates an unlivable environment for renters.

“We need to redevelop several properties up north,” Galante said. “When we redevelop, we need to put quality there. We need, really, to get housing with more quality and really, think carefully if we want to continue renting or if we want to explore the buying opportunity.”

The city can address jobs, Galante said, by investing in small businesses.

“At the end of the day, 80% of the jobs are created by the little bars, restaurants, boutiques and shops and cafes,” Galante said.

Galante said the city also should prioritize addressing crime. He said small business owners in the area complain about break-ins and shootings. The city should focus on opening the North Police Substation, for which voters most recently approved funding during the 2023 bond election, as well as installation of cameras that can read license plates.

“We want a bigger police presence, not only in person, but also with technology that we can give the perception of more safety,” Galante said.

Both Galante and Goss said they would like to see more code enforcement in apartment complexes to encourage owners from out of state to fix their apartments.

“We have a lot of aged infrastructure as well with some of these old apartments that are really, you know, absentee owners – California, New York, whatever – and they don’t really do a great job of keeping up the apartments,” Goss said.

Jacob Franklin, a tech support engineer, said the district needs more sidewalks, bike-friendly roads, more attainable housing and public transit. The issues are among the root causes of public safety, Franklin said during a recent Arlington TX NAACP forum.

“I want to fight for mixed-use zoning and higher-density zoning to keep the price of housing down and address the homelessness crisis,” Franklin said.

Arlington voters have rejected multiple attempts to join or form a transit authority using a portion of sales tax dollars – the most recent election was in 2002.

“It’s something that needs to be revisited and something that is, you know, always becoming a better and better investment as, you know, population density continues to increase,” Franklin said.

Better infrastructure and helping residents meet their basic needs will put residents in a position where they can start businesses in the area and bring in more jobs, Franklin added.

The winner in District 1 will replace Helen Moise, who cannot run again due to term limits. North Arlington generally covers Arlington north of Division Street, the Great Southwest Parkway, State Highway 360 and East Fielder Road also serve as boundaries for the district.

District 7

Two men's headshots show one man in a blue suit standing in a field. The other's is taken in the middle of an alleyway while he wears a gray polo.
Two candidates have entered the race for Arlington City Council District 7. From left to right: incumbent Bowie Hogg, a digital health executive, and Chris Dobson, a dog sitter/walker. The seat is at-large, meaning all Arlington residents can vote.

The at-large District 7 race marks Chris Dobson’s 14th year running for local office. Dobson is running against Bowie Hogg, a digital health executive and first-term incumbent.

Dobson generally files in races that appear uncontested on the final day of filing. His platforms include transparency, affordability and civic engagement.

Dobson points to low voter turnout, infrequent town halls and low resident participation in public meetings as areas for growth.

“A lot of our programs will have public events, and you’ll go and see eight people from the city, a few developers that are involved, but the number of residents is single digits at best,” Dobson said. “And so, you know, it kind of becomes a situation where you have to find a way to justify the need to be involved to people, which can be really difficult.”

Civic engagement is especially difficult, Dobson said, when residents have to work longer hours to afford rising housing and living costs.

Dobson said during the Arlington TX NAACP forum that the city should focus economic development efforts on affordable housing.

“We should, as best as we can, immediately get the homeless into some sort of housing. I believe that comes first,” Dobson said.

Hogg said he’ll focus on public safety and redevelopment if re-elected.

“If I want to get labeled anything, I’m fully OK being labeled a public safety council member … if we don’t have a safe city, nothing else works,” Hogg said.

Asked the most pressing issues of his first term, Hogg said the city council has improved relationships with Arlington’s police and fire departments.

Council members last fall approved funding for four-person staffing in the fire department. Hogg said the police training academy has had more enrollment thanks to policies approved in 2022 that expanded qualifications to those with four years of active-duty military experience with an honorable discharge. The city also changed policies to allow officers to keep beards or have visible tattoos.

Hogg said he’d like to work with police to increase patrol and bring in technology that helps with law enforcement.

“I would still say maybe the most unsafe place to be in Arlington is driving through an intersection,” Hogg said.

Hogg said council needs to continue to focus on redevelopment – especially in areas with aging buildings.

“Our big growth years were in the 70s and 80s and we had huge amounts of growth. A lot of these buildings are now coming up 40, 50 years old, and they need some fresh love on them and some fresh touches,” Hogg said.

Dobson said if elected, he would like to re-examine the city’s approach to economic development – particularly, the projects that are tax exempt.

Districts 2 and 6

Incumbent District 2 Council Member Raul Gonzalez and Long Pham of district 6 are running unopposed in their respective races.

Gonzalez, who is retired, was first elected in 2020 to represent southwest Arlington between Interstate 20, Matlock Road and city limits. Headed into his third and final council term, he said he’s focused on development and public safety. Like Hogg, he said people who run through red lights or speed present some of the biggest hazards on the road.

“We each have met with the chief and said, ‘We’ve really got to stop this.’ I think we’ve got to have more people, more officers on the roads because people see that it deters them from speeding. I really believe that because when I go through Dalworthington Gardens or Pantego, I’m not going to speed because guess what? I know I’m going to get caught and I get a ticket here,” Gonzalez said.

Raul Gonzalez sits on a light yellow chair. He's wearing a white dress shirt and a patterned tie.
Raul Gonzalez
Raul Gonzalez is running unopposed for a third and final term representing Southwest Arlington. Gonzalez was first elected to District 2 in 2020.

His district has the most undeveloped land, which means it’s up to him and his fellow council members to carefully consider projects as the city approaches buildout.

“We have to be smart with what we’re going to do with it. That’s probably the biggest issue that we have. You know, I don’t want to leave a legacy of, ‘Oh, that was built during Gonzalez’s term,’” Gonzalez said.

Pham, retired, is a first-term incumbent who represents an at-large district.

Pham said he’s focused on economic development in his second term in order to bring more jobs to the city.

Particularly, Pham is interested in attracting a major tech company to town. He said tech company campuses do not necessarily take up much space, but they do bring jobs that pay well.

Long Pham poses in his military uniform, a black suit with a black tie.
Long Pham
Long Pham is running unopposed for re-election to Arlington City Council District 6. The seat is at-large, and Pham was first elected to the seat in 2022.

“They can have somebody do something for them at a different place in a different country, but the high-paying jobs can be here, so that’s so critical,” Pham said. “We need to do something and give them some incentives to help them bring in the jobs here.”

Pham said council has become more vigilant in consideration of economic development projects after Legal Draft Beer Co. closed in 2022 – a year after entering a $200,000 Chapter 380 grant with the city. Council considered legal action against the brewery later in 2022.

“We have to do our due diligence to make sure that something like that does not happen again,” he said.

Along with economic development, Pham said he’ll also continue to focus on public safety.

“If your city is not safe, then nobody will want to come in and do business. That’s not going to help the economy in Arlington,” he said.

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Kailey Broussard covers Arlington for KERA News and The Arlington Report. Broussard has covered Arlington since 2020 and began at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before joining the station in 2021.