By JW McNay/editor-in-chief
The next mayor of Fort Worth could be a TCC student.
NE student James H. McBride is currently taking classes and working as a server at a restaurant. He has also spent the last two months preparing for the Fort Worth mayoral election.
To be on the ballot, someone only needs to fulfill a few basic requirements, fill out the appropriate paperwork and pay a $100 fee. McBride’s decision to run was not immediate.
“Anybody I went to and I said, ‘What do you think about me doing this?’ They said ‘You should do it. There’s nothing you can lose by doing it,’” McBride said.
While municipal elections are non-partisan, the candidates align too much with party interests, McBride said, adding he wanted to offer a position on the ballot that was more in the middle.
He considers himself to be more like “David” than “Goliath” in this race. He’s participated in debates with the results being encouraging, he said.
“I’m more hopeful now than I was when I started just for the simple fact that I’m getting feedback from people,” McBride said.
Low-voter turnout is another factor for why McBride feels like anyone stands a chance in a municipal election.
“I think if you have the right message and you have the right meaning behind your message and it strikes the people that you’re going to be able to do what you need to do,” McBride said.
Issues like improving infrastructure and public transit and taking care of the homeless are part of his platform. Specifically, he’d like to partner with religious institutions as part of a possible method of improving the city’s homelessness.
“But the question is ‘Can we get the people in the private sector to partner with us to do things?’” McBride asked. “Especially, when you look at homelessness and there’s not a lot of profitability that’s made in homelessness so that’s why you don’t see a lot of initiatives being done with it.”
NE sociology professor Murray Fortner was a source of encouragement to run for mayor, McBride said. Fortner taught McBride in a Social Problems class where the focus is to get students involved.
“I didn’t anticipate being a part of a solution [and help] taking on something as big as running for mayor of the city, but I didn’t discourage it,” Fortner said.
Fortner offered to assist McBride by sitting down and discussing issues to serve as a sounding board, much like they did in the Social Problems class.
“I like thinkers, and this guy is a thinker,” Fortner said.
He doesn’t consider McBride to be a novelty candidate but rather knowledgeable and capable.
McBride was also a student of NE government assistant professor Joan Johnson’s Texas Government class. He said she encouraged him along with all of her students to get more involved in all levels of government, which helped motivate his decision to run for mayor.
Johnson said she is glad to see a student like McBride get involved in local government because of how much it affects everyone.
“When you’re talking about a city council, that’s the entity that
has the most control over your day-to-day life: what kind of dogs you can own, how many dogs, how high your grass can be,” Johnson said.
People have ways in which they can affect change at the local level, she said. For example, a resident can get signatures for a referendum petition, which can bring items to a ballot and change local law.
“We have this crazy amount of power at the local level, and yet we are not aware of it or we don’t use it,” Johnson said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Early voting is currently open and election day is May 4 for Fort Worth residents.
Candidates for mayor include McBride, Deborah Peoples and Betsy Price on the ballot with Mike Haynes as a write-in candidate.
The last Fort Worth mayoral forum prior to the election is 6 p.m. April 29 in the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom at Texas Christian University.
“I’d like to see as many people as I could show up for the debate.” McBride said. “It doesn’t matter if you support me or you support one of the other candidates there. The main thing is just to get the people there so it can be heard.”