local politics

After the circus of the 2016 Presidential Election, appointments to the local transportation board might not seem like a big deal. However, ensuring that my city changes and grows in the correct manner starts with local politics and not with Washington, DC.

There are currently two people vying for votes from Dallas City Council to sit on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board. One person is an advocate for public transportation; an advocate for providing citizens with mobility options; an advocate for what is best for the city of Dallas. The other person is a lawyer who isn’t familiar with DART; someone who has never ridden DART; someone who is self-proclaimed non-expert about DART.

So, here is my letter to my city councilperson. I’m hopeful that they will make the correct decision. I’m hopeful that they will vote for the person with the most experience. I’m hopeful that they will vote for the best interest of the City of Dallas. If you live in Dallas, I encourage you to contact your city councilperson before Wednesday.

Good evening. I am writing to you about Wednesday’s vote between Mr. Patrick Kennedy or Mr. Howard Gilberg to serve on the DART Board. To put it plain and simple, I encourage you to cast your council vote for Patrick Kennedy.

Ever since the suburbanization of our great city in the 1950s following the creation of Central Expressway, our city has become ever more reliant on the personal automobile. Our highways continue to expand while traffic continues to worsen. The modern city of Dallas has been constructed to favor those who have a personal automobile.

This type of mobility is not sustainable nor equitable. Many families struggle to make ends meet. Simply owning one vehicle is an uncomfortable financial burden for the household, but is a better option than unreliable or non-existent public transportation. While a personal vehicle may not be a burden for you or for me, others in our city are not so fortunate.

We need to prioritize reworking our bus routes around the city. This will provide thousands of people better and more financially responsible options for getting to work or getting to school or visiting family. The City of Houston revitalized their bus network for pennies on the dollar and their residents are enjoying a better public transportation system.

We also need to prioritize building a second DART Light Rail line through downtown. This additional line needs to be constructed below grade to not disrupt the street life of our great downtown. Some say that Mr. Kennedy is only concerned with the downtown core, but he believes in “doing the right thing for the right place and appropriating the right resources for the best outcomes for all” to quote a recent Dallas Morning News article.

For many years, Mr. Kennedy has been a vocal advocate for providing options for mobility around and through our great city of Dallas. Mr. Kennedy knows from first hand experience how troubled our public transportation system is in it’s current state. Mr. Gilberg has said that he has never ridden DART. He doesn’t know where it goes. He doesn’t know the people who rely on DART and are ultimately let down. He might be an excellent lawyer, but he has no experience when it comes to public transportation.

Mr. Kennedy might not be the “typical Dallas” status-quo choice, but he is the best man for the job. His experience and vision would be a breath of fresh air to the DART Board and I encourage you to cast your vote for Patrick Kennedy.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss this issue any further.

Thank you for your time,

Nick Thorn, AIA

You might think that this is a lengthy letter to address what might seem like a minuscule issue. But, I’m passionate about my city and what happens here. Dallas has been undergoing a lot of change lately, and there are a lot of big things happening here. There are a lot of small events that lead up to the big things. We have to get the small things correct to make sure we get the big things correct. And getting the right people on the necessary boards is an important first step.

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