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Mattie Parker, Deborah Peoples Square off in a Fort Worth Mayoral Run-Off Forum



FORT WORTH, TX –  Mattie Parker and Deborah Peoples share their views during a forum as they face a run off election for Fort Worth Mayor.

Both discussed their stances on several issues including job and business recruitment, entrepreneurship, transportation, housing and education.

Parker and Peoples both have a focus to bridge the gap between schools and businesses in the community.

“I don’t care if you student goes to a charter school, public school, private school or is homeschooled every single student deserves access to a quality education in Tarrant County and until we take that responsibility seriously our economic development efforts will continue to stall,” said Parker.

Parker said there’s already been programs in place that connects students to businesses and Peoples agreed that a successful workforce comes from educating the youth.

On things the candidates differed on included transportation.

Peoples said she has been voicing her concern and need for a light rail transportation system and other multi-model forms of mobility around the city so that people can have better access to jobs.

Peoples said residents, particularly in east Fort Worth where she lives, have a hard time getting to work on a bus system with inconvenient times.

However, Parker said a system like this is very costly and would take years to develop.

Parker did agree that the city should strive for the “visionary” concept, but with capital costs estimated at $2 billion dollars for this type of transit system, it’s best to have a long term plan in place and focusing on what can be done now.

“That’s why I’m so proud of the work that Trinity Metro has done; Stepping up and doing new inventive programs like Zipzones with Via and others to get people around this community quickly because those communities can’t wait 10 to 20 years for light rail system to serve them,” Parker said.

Peoples says funding can come from federal and private-public partnerships.

“Good leadership says we can’t sit here and say ‘well we don’t have the money so we’re not going to look  at it’,”  Peoples said.

On topics the candidates did agree on were focusing on better paying jobs and working with the chambers to get people back to work.

“We have to make sure we are supporting them so they can offer a livable wage and hire more people and that is one of the things I want to do, work with the chambers and make sure we are reaching all of those small businesses who are the life and blood of our city,” Peoples said talking about the importance of working with small minority-owned businesses.

However, Parker said the focus should not be on minimum wages but making sure students are getting the education and tools to be successful and that is not a minimum wage, it’s a higher amount.

When it comes to neighborhood improvement in underserved communities, Parker said the city’s programs have been successful and wants to see even more money pour into this and help improve infrastructure and schools.

However, Peoples said there are still areas across the city that have been historically left out of the equation and said actions need to speak louder than words.

“My plan is to look at those under utilized neighborhoods and focus on them. You won’t here me spouting statics you will see me hands on out in the community working with the Hispanic, black and Asian American chambers to make sure we are providing those opportunities,” said Peoples.

When asked about how they can make city hall more inclusive, Parker says it’s all about making sure the policies work for everyone, regardless of gender and skin color.

“When I was pregnant working for the mayor I realized there were maternity policies at the City of Fort Worth and there was no nursing room,  those policies matter and we were losing women in the city attorney’s office because they didn’t feel supported to have children,” said Parker.

Peoples said this isn’t about talent attraction, the city needs to look internally for the people who haven’t been given opportunities.

Also, when it came to business growth, Parker said Fort Worth is losing young entrepreneurs to other cities. She wants to enhance infrastructure and support for new businesses by providing innovation capital funding and entertainment.

“We need an entertainment district that’s fun and exciting besides West 7th Street. Those are the incentives and conversations we have in Fort Worth to have a thriving workplace and a place people want to live work and play,” said Parker.

Peoples said young professionals want opportunities to grow and get promoted and businesses look at housing, education and mass transportation when coming to a city.

The candidates were also asked about people moving to the city and how they would combat the housing crisis. As the population booms in Fort Worth, the housing market has been stretched thin.

Peoples says east Fort Worth has a lot of land that should be used and wants to promote taxes and hiring from the community as incentives.

“We should be taking builders to areas around  parts of the city that have been underutilized,” said Peoples.

Parker says Fort Worth needs a focused plan on affordable housing inside of 820 and that starts with duplexes, apartments and multi-family homes.

“We understand the generational wealth gap between black and Hispanic families because of homeownership, what are we going todo as a city to make sure these opportunities are available to all residents in this city,” said Parker.

While Peoples and Parker have differences on some issues both said there’s policies and ideas they’ve learned from each other and will take that with them once elected.

Peoples likes Parkers ideas on education and Parker likes Peoples ideas on equity and inclusion.

“It’s so remarkable to strong women standing here to lead this fantastic city, Fort Worth is really positioned for greatness,” said Parker. “We cannot continue to do things without an eye for the future and without being concerned about all of our residents,” Peoples added.

The run off election is on June 5th.