Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price will not seek re-election
See full WFAA news article by Jason Whitely, Elizabeth Wiley and Lauren Zakalik here.
Betsy Price has announced she will not run for re-election to a sixth term as mayor of Fort Worth, calling it "a hard decision."
"Bottom line, today Fort Worth is as it has been for a long time: a land of opportunity," Price said in her announcement.
Price, 71, made the announcement Tuesday morning just days before candidates can begin filing to run for municipal office.
Price said she hopes to spend more time with her six grandchildren.
"Serving as mayor has been one of the greatest joys of life, next to having my children and grandchildren, it’s been amazing," she said.
Her announcement comes at the end of a turbulent year but it is not entirely unexpected.
“There’s no perfect answer as to the time when you should step aside, but you should step aside when you have the feeling that you’re ready,” she said.
Two years ago, during the last Fort Worth mayoral debate, Price said she would only seek one more term, telling voters at the time that she had unfinished business she wanted to complete at city hall.
Mayor Price, who is known for her love of bicycling and physical fitness, has led Fort Worth through a decade of substantial growth and development.
"Thanks to our vision, and a lot of hard work from the team, Fort Worth is now a modern innovative, internationally renowned city. And we did it while we still stayed true to Fort Worth’s roots," she said.
Last February, Price said the city had grown more than 20% since 2012.
“That's incredible,” Price said in her state of the city address. “We've moved from the... 17th largest when I took office nine years ago to the 13th largest now. We're the third fastest-growing in the nation.”
On Tuesday, Price listed some of her accomplishments during her 10 years as a sustainable pension, cutting the tax rate and increasing modes of transportation.
“The accomplishments have far exceeded the challenges, and I feel very good about the legacy we’ll leave behind," Price said.
The city’s pension fund had been forecast to run out of money but Price helped reach a compromise to extend it and Fort Worth became the largest city to get it settled without having to go to the state legislature in Austin.
Several years ago, Price supported a half-cent sales tax to improve certain neglected neighborhoods. Code enforcement, better lighting and other changes led to a reduction in crime in the city’s Northside and Stop Six neighborhoods.
Price also helped make TEXRail, a 27-mile commuter rail line, a reality between downtown Fort Worth and DFW Airport.
Food and drink distributor Ben. E. Keith expanded in Fort Worth and got incentives to not go to Dallas, on Price’s watch.
Amazon Air opened a regional hub at Alliance Airport and Facebook further expanded its data center a few miles away.
Price also successfully kept American Airlines, one of the city’s largest employers, from potentially relocating. The airline opened a brand-new headquarters in the city in 2019.
“Today I’m really here to simply say thank you to all of the residents of Fort Worth,” she said Tuesday.
Fort Worth has long experienced racial tension, and Price faced this issue during her tenure.
“One thing I love about Mayor Price, she was always open to suggestions,” said Cory Session, a longtime justice and civil rights advocate in the city.
Session worked with the mayor numerous times over the years—most notably, perhaps, on longstanding racial tensions in the city that were brought to a head in December 2016, when a white police officer named William Martin became physical with a Black mother named Jackie Craig. Craig had originally called police for help because she said her neighbor choked her son.
In the months following that incident, the city created a Race and Culture Task Force to address racial issues within the city and the police department. However, its success is still to be fully measured.
Session said Price’s work made a difference, but the work isn’t done.
“The next mayor is going to have to ensure that race relations are top priority of theirs, whoever it's going to be,” Session said.
Though the office is officially non-partisan, Price is the only Republican mayor of a major Texas city.
She wouldn't speculate about who might replace her during the Tuesday announcement but said the biggest issues for her replacement to tackle would include growth, new council seats, and redistricting.
On Tuesday afternoon, Fort Worth Councilmember Ann Zadeh said she was prepared to run for mayor, and interested in hearing from her constituents.
Fort Worth City Councilmember Dr. Brian Byrd is expected to make an announcement about the mayor's race in the next week.
Many wonder if Price aspires for another political office?
Some have speculated that Price might consider a seat in Congress if one were to open – or perhaps a run for Tarrant County Judge if the incumbent, Glen Whitley, decides not to seek re-election himself.
“I’ve got until the end of 2021, the end of this year, to make that decision and we’ll just get there and see what happens at that point in time,” Whitley told WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics on Sunday.
Price replaced Mike Moncrief, who served as mayor for eight years. Prior to being elected mayor, Price was the Tarrant County tax assessor/collector for a decade.
Price’s departure marks the third mayoral change among major North Texas cities.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson was elected in June 2019 after Mike Rawlings term limited out. Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams is term limited out and leaves office in May.
When Price departs Fort Worth city hall, she will have served as mayor for a decade.
Two of the city's top jobs will be filled in 2021. In addition to electing a new mayor later this year, Fort Worth expects to name a new police chief by the end of January.
The election for Fort Worth's mayor will take place May 1.