Editorials

Endorsement: Jeff Williams for Arlington mayor

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Jeff Williams has done everything he promised he would do as mayor of Arlington, and more.

As a challenger in 2015, Williams defeated a complacent incumbent by promising to put Arlington back in the center of the map for Dallas-Fort Worth business and tourism growth and prosperity.

The ensuing success has exceeded even many residents’ wildest dreams, from Texas Live! to the new hotels and restaurants coming near the Texas Rangers’ new Globe Life Field and new businesses in a reborn downtown.

Arlington’s tourist business has grown by nearly one-third, meaning more sales tax dollars that help fund city services and save money for local taxpayers.

Arlington consistently makes lists of “best places to live” among the nation’s 50 largest cities, and last year also ranked No. 1 in Texas on a list of “best-run” big cities based on operating efficiency.

Williams also notes presiding over innovations such as laser crack-detection in city water pipes and the city-subsidized Via rideshare program providing low-cost on-demand transportation.

By any measure, having Williams as mayor is good business for Arlington.

As good as things are going, a trio of opposing candidates amassed to run against Williams in the May 4 election. In the process, they’ve aired some heartfelt and legitimate grievances about public transit, small business woes, water bills and perceived elitism at City Hall. A growing faction of seniors and low-income voters feels unheard. In particular, the underrepresented and crime-plagued neighborhoods near Texas 360 are not sharing in the overall city’s spirit and success.

And since Via only covers about a third of the city, and may not be all that accessible to the technically challenged, it remains to be seen whether it will be able to supplant or merely supplement traditional public transit going forward.

Williams’ challenge going forward, if re-elected, will be to demonstrate that City Hall’s vision is one of foresight rather than farsightedness. While continuing to make Arlington a player nationally and internationally, he must prove his detractors wrong about leaving some people behind.

The mayor would no doubt argue, and we’d agree, that the city’s kindness campaign, launched in 2017 and which he says has captured the imagination of area students, is proof he’s not overlooking his hometown while his eyes are on the horizon.

In addition, although there are challenges and unmet needs, the same can be said of any city. But few have seen the growth and progress Arlington has in recent years. And while “big business” is literally a rich target for criticism, it creates jobs and helps hold the line on taxes.

Williams has been at the forefront of all this dynamic change. He has well earned a third term as mayor of Arlington.

Arlington voters have instituted the toughest term limits in the nation. It’s likely that a last term for Mayor Jeff Williams, which we highly recommend, will make many regret those limits.

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