Transportation, education and discrimination dominated the conversation Monday at TCU’s mayoral forum.
The candidates, including Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Chairwoman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party Deborah Peoples and Tarrant County College student James McBride, took questions from moderators Estrus Tucker and Jason Whitley.
Early voting ends Tuesday; election day for the municipal races is May 4.
Peoples received audience applause for most of her comments, while a majority of Price’s remarks were met with silence and sometimes scoffs from attendees.
Peoples could be seen holding back laughter during many of Price’s remarks. After Price delivered her closing remarks while glancing down at her iPad, Peoples said she hoped she could speak within the allotted time, “because I didn’t script my answer.”
Transportation and dockless scooters
The first question of the night was whether the candidates support dockless scooters from companies like Bird and Lime, which currently aren’t permitted in the city. McBride and Peoples said yes, Price said no.
Price said Fort Worth has a “very extensive” BCycle program, which places docked bikes throughout the city. She said the problem with scooters is they aren’t docked and tend to be dropped in random places.
“We’ve been very proud of keeping Fort Worth clean, neat, essentially organized,” she said.
Price added that she has worked with Trinity Metro to add bike racks to bus stops and add rideshare services to the Trinity Metro app. She also said the city is adding bike lanes and sidewalks where possible.
Peoples said Fort Worth needs to look at every method available to help those who can’t or don’t want to drive. With regards to the dockless scooters, Peoples said parts of the city are already “junky” and need to be cleaned up. She believes the scooters will add to that problem.
McBride said he supports the scooters but that the city would need to implement regulations so it wouldn’t experience the problems Dallas has seen. He said Trinity Metro needs a lot of reform, citing problems with the bus schedules.
Price said the city has a new task force, Transit Moves Fort Worth, to try to improve transportation.
“We don’t need another task force,” Peoples responded.
The city is years behind on adding rail and Fort Worth residents need transportation options now, Peoples said.
Discrimination in Fort Worth bars
The candidates were asked whether or not there’s discrimination in Fort Worth bars after a TCU athletics coach was turned away from one for wearing Air Jordan shoes this past weekend.
McBride said he has seen discrimination throughout his years in the restaurant industry, but that restaurants ultimately have the right to turn people away if they’re not following the dress code.
Peoples said she believes there is discrimination in Fort Worth bars and that the leadership in Fort Worth has been quiet on the issue.
“When you have a city leadership that is silent until something blows up, what do you expect is going to happen?” Peoples said. “As your mayor, I’m going to stand up for what is right.”
Price said no one should be subject to inequalities, but that the city is not in the business of running private establishments.
Price added that these are the kind of issues Fort Worth’s chief equity officer, who will be hired soon, will address.
What the candidates would do with $1 million
The candidates provided a variety of answers when they were asked what they would do with a $1 million grant.
Peoples said she would invest the money in scooters, fixing potholes and improving transportation.
“The mayor says you don’t have to be a Republican or a Democrat to fix a pothole,” Peoples said, “but you darn sure have to be somebody who’s empathetic to the plight of people in those neighborhoods.”
Price said she would invest in quality child care and early education.
“Quality child care, early education is the linchpin to ending poverty,” she said.
McBride said he would use the money to address homelessness in Fort Worth.
“Instead of treating the symptoms, we need to look at what the causes of these issues are,” he said.
Education and leadership
As the forum was nearing the end, moderator Estrus Tucker asked the candidates what question should have been discussed during the forum that wasn’t.
Price said education should have been discussed, as too many Fort Worth children aren’t ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, which is why she created the program Read Fort Worth.
McBride said he wants to raise high school graduation rates in Fort Worth and increase vocational programs.
Peoples said the quality of leadership in Fort Worth should have been discussed.
“Current leadership has kicked the can down the road,” Peoples said.
Municipal elections will take place on May 4. To find your polling location, click here.