Rivera plans to stay out of Arlington mayor’s race

Longtime City Councilman Robert Rivera has decided not to challenge Mayor Robert Cluck in May.

Rivera, who has represented southeast Arlington since 2005, said recent polling has indicated that voters still rank Cluck’s favorability high. Cluck, first elected in 2003, has said he will seek his seventh term as mayor next year.

“My intention has always been to wait for an open mayor’s seat,” Rivera said. “After discussions with family, friends and multiple community leaders, and prayer and reflection, I have decided not to challenge Mayor Cluck in 2015.”

Political newcomer Jeff Williams, a longtime business and civic leader backed by former Mayors Richard Greene and Elzie Odom, said he will face Cluck in the May election.

Williams, 55, is president of the civil engineering firm Graham Associates and has volunteered with many organizations in the past 30 years, including stints as president of the River Legacy Foundation, the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau board and the Arlington YMCA advisory board. He has also received the Vandergriff Community Leadership Award for his service.

“I respect his decision,” Williams said about Rivera. “We’ve worked well together for a number of years. I look forward to serving with him as the next mayor.”

Cluck said he wouldn’t be surprised to see his council colleague’s name on the ballot for mayor sometime in the near future.

“Someday, he’s going to run. He’s looking for the right opportunity. Perhaps this is not it,” Cluck said.

Cluck, 75, is a former OB-GYN and current vice president for medical affairs at Texas Health Resources Arlington Memorial Hospital. A poll conducted by his political consultants last week found that 67.5 percent of past voters said they have a favorable opinion of him, and 16.4 percent of those polled said they had a favorable opinion. At least 78 percent of past municipal voters who say they will definitely vote in the May election plan to vote for Cluck, the survey found.

“I get to help thousands of people as mayor,” Cluck said. “I can have a positive impact on their lives and their homes. That makes me feel good. It’s hard for me to give that up. It’s a highly personal decision. Everyone has their own reasons for running. That’s my reason.”

Had Rivera run for mayor, he would have had to step down from the council before his term ended.

“I love Arlington,” Rivera said. “Although being mayor of Arlington is significant in terms of the ability to shine light and attention on issues, I am still able to communicate and advocate for the needs of our city as a council member. I will continue to be hardworking, transparent and bring up the issues citizens want discussed.”

Rivera, vice president of an investment bank, said he has not decided whether to seek a sixth term as District 3 councilman. Filing doesn’t begin until January.

“I’ll make an announcement regarding re-election whenever we get closer. It’s still very early,” he said, adding that he will not endorse anyone in the upcoming mayor’s race.

Rivera, 43, first ran for the council in 1990 at age 18. Though he didn’t win, over the next couple of decades he began working to promote the city in other ways. His résumé includes serving as Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau chairman and as a member of the Home Run Arlington committee, which helped pass the ballpark sales tax in 1991 to build the Texas Rangers a new home. Rivera also co-founded Touchdown Arlington, which campaigned to persuade Arlington voters in 2004 to financially support construction of the Dallas Cowboys’ $1.2 billion stadium.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.