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Fort Worth Mayoral Candidates Talk Of Mistakes

By Bill Zeeble, KERA News

Fort Worth, TX – The Fort Worth Mayoral race includes four former elected officials and one film producer in his first political race. While voters may know something about their public service, we wanted to learn more about their character. So KERA's Bill Zeeble asked the would-be mayors to reveal something they might not otherwise volunteer to talk about.

Here's the question we asked the five who want to lead the city Fort Worth; tell us about a mistake you made and what you learned from that mistake. Two candidates, Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Betsy Price, and former City Council woman and Cathy Hirt, gave pretty general responses about politics.

Price won the Tax Assessor office in the year 2000. Before that, she owned an auto license and title business.

Betsy Price: I would have taken my business skills and community commitment and gotten involved in the political arena a little sooner. I never went into the tax office for politics, but for service and increased efficiencies there. Same thing for the Mayor's office. You want to leave a better city than you found it.

Cathy Hirt talked about serving on the Fort Worth City Council, researching issues, and opposing some council plans.

Cathy Hirt:. And I learned that you should always couple a no' with a better idea, because people generally want solutions. They want to feel their city is growing, they want to look at positives. And in Fort Worth we have so many. And you know I tended to always say realistically, here's what we can't do. and I think that I've learned that you've got to really encourage people and look at what we can do.

Attorney and former City Council member Jim Lane was a bit more specific about a mistake he learned from, as was 27 year-old candidate, Nicholas Zebrun. As a member of the City Council, Lane recalled championing historic preservation.

Lane: I believe Fort Worth has a great personality based upon our Western Heritage and the history of all these great people that came here.

When Lane wanted to demolish his ancient, dilapidated garage, his architect said he could not tear it down.

Jim Lane: What do you mean you can't tear the garage down? "Well, we got to go through these procedures that the city has." And I, I was amazed, I kept saying I don't' understand, you can't use it, it's fixing to fall down, what procedures - well to make a long story short, I went down kind of huffy to the department that handled that kind of stuff, walked into the head of the department and demanded to know why we had an ordinance like that, that created that kind of burden for our citizens? I said "Who created this, who did this?" With a big smile on his face, he looked at me and said "You did."

The lesson, says Lane? When you start limiting people's rights, you have to watch out for uncalculated consequences.

At 27, movie and video maker Nicholas Zebrun is the youngest candidate in this Fort Worth Mayor's race, and acknowledges his lessons learned are tied to youth.

Nicholas Zebrun: The biggest general mistake I can think of, that I tend to make is, I become quite passionate about something before I might know all the facets of it.

As an example, Zebrun says he embraced Barnett Shale plans based on initial presentations.

Zebrun: But when I came out and I said "Yes, I support it and we have to get on it," I should have qualified that with the statement "but make certain that our health and safety are in line." I think that goes without saying, but of course when you don't say it people assume you're just blindly following, and that was a mistake I made.

Attorney and former State Representative Dan Barrett paused a long time before telling a deeply personal story from a painful time in his life.

Dan Barrett: Probably the most important mistake, I suppose I learned from was that I had a son who had a serious substance abuse problem. And I believe I learned to take that more seriously than I did at the time.

Barrett says he used to think the person affected had only himself to blame.

Barrett: Made me realize more empathetically, sometimes bad things that befall us are not our fault. In that sense, we're all in this together.

Sadly, Barrett says his son could not conquer all of his issues, and took his life four years ago. For Barrett, the lessons that matters, he says, are the need to understand, and that we can never , never abandon our essential humanity.

You can watch videos on this issue and learn more about Fort Worth and Dallas mayoral candidates by going to the Voters Voice page at

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