Brian Byrd, who has brought a renewed focus on west Fort Worth Las Vegas Trail area, wants another term on city council.
Byrd won his first term in 2017, unseating incumbent Zim Zimmerman. He sees education and economic development as the biggest barriers for healthy growth and says he wants to improve race relations in Fort Worth.
Tanner Smith will appear on the ballot, but did not return a questionnaire or interview with the Star-Telegram Editorial Board.
Occupation: Small business owner and physician
Public offices held/sought: Incumbent Council District 3
What organizations are you affiliated with? UnBound Fort Worth, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Antioch Community Church, Welcome Back Tarrant County, American Academy of Family Physicians, Texas Family Medicine
What is the biggest issue facing Fort Worth and/or your district specifically? How would you address it?
Fort Worth’s biggest issues are education, economic development and race relations. I support the Mayor’s leadership and initiation of Read Fort Worth because I believe it will improve our 3rd grade reading levels. They are key indicators for a child’s success. I supported the 2018 FWISD bond which passed, and through LVTRise I am working with the schools in the Las Vegas Trail area to increase students’ educational attainment. Education advancement will only enhance our success in economic development and race relations.
Do you support a civilian review board of the Fort Worth Police Department? If so, how should that board be structured and what powers should it have?
We’ve only recently seen a draft plan from the city manager and it hasn’t been thoroughly discussed. Our Police Officers do a great job with the resources they are given and I’ve seen crime diminish in my district because of their great work. I look forward to discussing this further with city management and police staff.
Property taxes continue to rise in Texas, and one solution put forward in the legislature would cap local governments’ property tax growth at 2.5 percent a year. If the cap had been in place last year, Fort Worth would have needed to trim $21.1 million from this year’s budget. Does Fort Worth need to reevaluate how much it relies on property taxes? Are there alternative funding sources?
Each year I’ve been on council I’ve pushed and voted for property tax reductions providing tax relief for our citizens. Our current tax base is unbalanced with homeowners carrying 60% of the tax burden. Commercial tax revenue is only 40% of property tax revenue and we must work to adjust this imbalance. Fortunately, forecasts show the city will continue to grow at an unprecedented pace. I will continue our work to smooth the permitting process so commercial development can happen more quickly and will work to attract more businesses to our area.
Last September and October saw widespread urban and flash flooding. Should the city prioritize improving the stormwater system? What role should the city play in ensuring developers provide adequate stormwater infrastructure during all phases of construction?
Those were terrible and sad events last year and we should not be satisfied until we know we are doing everything we can to prevent a recurrence. The city has a well thought out storm water plan but we need to continue to evaluate the high-risk areas and correct those issues.
Fort Worth continues to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. But that growth hasn’t come without some headaches for residents including increased traffic, urban flooding, concerns about the historical integrity of neighborhoods. As the city looks at attracting more business, how can the city grow responsibly? Is the developer-friendly approach sustainable? Should the city apply greater scrutiny to projects?
The city has thorough, well-researched comprehensive plans for future city growth. Generally speaking, we should continue to pursue a variety of housing types which align with the diverse needs of our growing city.
The completion of TEXRail has spurred interest in public transit, including from the city’s economic development department in the form of commuter-oriented tax breaks. Should the city devote more attention to public transportation? If so, how?
Yes. I will be taking a close look at the transit consultant study when we receive it this summer. Our priority should be to increase public transit service to our lower socio-economic areas in the most cost-friendly way possible. We can do it with innovative solutions and an understanding that it will require at least a decade of continued commitment.
United Fort Worth has become a vocal group at city meetings. Have you met with their members or have you been endorsed by them? Do you believe the council needs to better engage with groups like United Fort Worth, and how can that be done?
I value and welcome everyone’s voice and opinion and visit with everyone who requests to meet with me. I have met multiple times with United Fort Worth representatives. I believe we share the same goals of a desire to see all Fort Worth’s citizens benefit from the area’s growth and development. I will continue to work on this if re-elected to the city council.