February 28, 2013

Ex-Fort Worth City Council member Kathleen Hicks wants her old seat back

Last year she ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. House.

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FORT WORTH -- Former City Council member Kathleen Hicks, who left her southeast Fort Worth seat last year to run an unsuccessful race for Congress, wants her old post back.

Hicks, 40, filed Thursday to run in District 8 against incumbent Kelly Allen Gray, 44, who won election last year to fill the remainder of Hicks' term. Hicks, who served the district from 2005 through last Spring, did not return phone and email messages Thursday.

Gray said she'll campaign on the same issues "we've been talking about for the past year:" better code compliance, economic development, and affordable and mixed-income housing.

"We're going to keep pushing our very same message," she said.

Hicks has a big fundraising edge. In a January filing, she reported her city campaign fund had $45,464.81 on hand as of Dec. 31. Gray, in a filing, reported she had $7,597.35 on hand.

Gray said the fundraising edge isn't the most important campaign asset in the district, which includes Morningside, Poly, parts of Meadowbrook, Highland Hills, Rolling Hills, and Mitchell Boulevard, and where coalition-building among churches and neighborhood associations is key.

"My biggest asset is I'm very accessible," Gray said. "I will do the exact same thing I did the last [campaign]. I'll be out knocking on doors. I'll be introducing myself."

Gray led recently on a controversial council vote to remove the historic designation on the old Dillow House at Texas Wesleyan University, clearing the way for the university to knock the house down. The vote angered preservationists and triggered a lawsuit, but Gray and other council members who voted to remove the designation said it was important for Texas Wesleyan to be able to continue its expansion in the Poly area.

Gray also participated in a five-member council majority that blocked a water rate increase, worrying about its impact on users. "We hadn't really had a good discussion," Gray said.

Gray has also helped facilitate a task force that's working on a plan to clean up East Lancaster Avenue, working on making it more attractive for business.

Gray recused herself from council votes on changes to the employee pension, because her husband is a Fort Worth police officer. A Fort Worth affordable housing nonprofit she ran before she ran for council also is working to resolve a more than $200,000 dispute with the city over documentation for two homes the organization built and sold to buyers later found to be ineligible.

Hicks, during her time on the council, earned kudos for leading various projects in the district. She lost in the race for the new Congressional District 33 to the eventual winner Marc Veasey.

Deadline for filing in the council races is Friday.

So far, three other races are contested, including the North Side District 2 race between incumbent Sal Espino and ex councilman Jim Lane; the District 4 East/Northeast contest between incumbent Danny Scarth and challenger Paul Gardner; and the District 5 Southeast Fort Worth race between incumbent Frank Moss and challenger Gyna Bivens. One candidate in the District 5 race, John Tunmire, said Thursday he was withdrawing and supporting Bivens instead.

Scott Nishimura, 817-390-7808, Twitter: @JScottNishimura

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