Arlington mayoral hopefuls await decision by Cluck

Posted Monday, Jan. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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ARLINGTON -- Two sitting City Council members and a prominent civic leader say they have all considered running to becoming Arlington's mayor, but none would challenge Robert Cluck if he seeks re-election this May.

District 3 representative Robert Rivera, District 7 Councilman Jimmy Bennett and Victor Vandergriff, an attorney and businessman, said Friday that they are waiting for Cluck's decision on whether he will pursue a sixth two-year term as mayor in the May 11 election.

Filing for the Arlington City Council election, which also includes the District 3, District 4, District 5 and District 8 seats, runs from Jan. 30 to March 1.

Vandergriff, who is chairman of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and also served the past five years on the North Texas Tollway Authority board, is the son of the late Tom Vandergriff, who served as Arlington's mayor for 26 years.

"Mayor Cluck has been a great mayor for Arlington. We've had a great working relationship," said Vandergriff, 55. "To take on an incumbent and a friend is not something that I really relish doing or thinking about doing. It would be important for me to not tear things down as I was trying to come in and build things up."

Rivera and Bennett

Rivera, who plans to seek his fifth term as southeast Arlington's representative, and Bennett, who is serving his third term as an at-large representative, would have to step down from their council seats if they chose to campaign for mayor this election. Both said they would be more likely to consider running if the mayor's seat were open.

"I'm not here to become mayor for personal reasons. It's about serving in the best interests of the city as a whole," said Rivera, 41, who is a vice president of a commercial real estate company. "We are coming out one of the greatest economic downturns in our nation's history, and Arlington, under our current leadership, has stayed strong. I have no desire to divide our city."

Rivera, who said he has devoted his life to community service since he was 18, said he will continue working to engage residents and improve the city block by block.

"It's about making sure every citizen feels welcome at City Hall. Every citizen should have a hand in the direction they would like to see their community to be," Rivera said. "There are things we can do better, but as a community we are working daily towards those goals."

Like Rivera, Bennett said he has been encouraged by many in the community to consider running for mayor.

"I will do that should the opportunity present itself," said Bennett, who is a 52-year-old certified public accountant. "I do think it's important that a mayor have a long-term vision for the city. As a person who would like to remain engaged as a public servant, that is appealing to me."

Vandergriff

While Vandergriff has served as member and chairman of the Arlington Planning and Zoning Commission, which is appointed by City Council, he is not considering running for a council seat.

"If I was ever to run for an office in the city it would be for mayor," Vandergriff said.

Vandergriff said his experience includes overseeing massive roadway projects on the NTTA board and building the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, an agency with a budget of more than $180 million that generates nearly $2 billion in revenue annually, from the ground up.

"I look for those kinds of challenges. I just think I've been able to serve and do more in those capacities than I might on the council," Vandergriff said.

Vandergriff said the fact that his father served as Arlington's mayor between 1951 and 1977 may be "a footnote of interest" to some, but he knows that would not be enough to garner support from today's residents, who face far different challenges.

"It's a different place. He often said he was able to be elected at age 25 because Arlington was a very small place. He had a chance to serve when it was a growing, vibrant community. Everything isn't new. It's now in a redevelopment phase," Vandergriff said.

"He was a good a man in private as he was in public. I am honored to be his son and would be honored to walk in his footsteps behind him, but that is not the driving force for me."

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock

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