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Dallas Mayor Resigns

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert announces resignation
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert announces resignation

By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX – Tom Leppert is resigning as Mayor of Dallas effective at five o'clock Friday. KERA's BJ Austin says Leppert hinted at a run for the U.S. Senate, but did not make it official as he said goodbye to council colleagues.

"Effective at the end of the day on Friday, February 25th, I'll be resigning as Mayor of the city of Dallas."

Tom Leppert has been mayor since 2007. In his announcement to colleagues at the close of his last city council meeting, Leppert outlined accomplishments of his now-slightly abbreviated term: including the convention center hotel, new businesses downtown, and this week's 200 million dollar investment by Wal-Mart. But now:

Leppert: I feel that I can better serve our city, our region, and our state in a new capacity.

Leppert, considering a U.S. Senate run, says he will have more to say on that in the next few days. Leppert thanked the city manager and council members, but had a warning about next year's budget and the city's future.

Leppert: Dallas cannot remain competitive with the suburbs, with other cities across Texas, if it cannot find a way to reduce the tax rate.

Leppert says his biggest regret was failing to hold the line on taxes last year. A tax hike passed by one vote.

Council member Ann Margolin says the next big issue for the council is the budget.

Margolin: Most of the big decisions on that are not going to be made until the summer, anyway. And we'll have a new mayor by then. But, we'll be looking at that, and poking around on that for the next few months. That's the biggest thing.

Donna Halstead, former council member, now president of the Dallas Citizens Council says when there's an interim mayor, there's little attention to "new" initiatives, but local government continues as-usual. John Crawford, president of Downtown Dallas Inc. agrees.

Crawford: In terms of day to day operations going forward, we meet with the council on a regular basis, so bottom line, I don't think we're going to skip a beat in terms of having an interim mayor.

Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway moves into the Mayor's office. Caraway was recently criticized for giving NFL Quarterback Michael Vick a key to the city during Super Bowl week. Some objected to the honor for Vick, who went to prison for running an illegal dog fighting ring - and called for Caraway to resign as Mayor Pro Tem. Caraway says he was recognizing Vick's good work with kids since his release from prison.

Cal Jillson, political scientist at SMU, thinks the key-to-the-city issue will fade.

Jillson: I think some of that concern is overblown because Caraway will be very careful during his period as Mayor.

Council colleagues had words of praise for Leppert following announcement of his resignation: Linda Koop among them.

Koop: He accomplished what he started out to accomplish. I think he feels like he has done that. I think he has too. I think all of us just wish him well. He's an enormously talented person. And he has great things in his future.

Dallas elects a new mayor in May to be sworn in June 27th.

Email BJ Austin