U.S. Congresswoman Kay Granger (R–TX) endorsed Fort Worth City Councilman Brian Byrd as the city’s next mayor. Granger’s connection to Fort Worth’s Panther Island redevelopment boondoggle raises questions about Byrd’s plans should he win.

On Tuesday, Granger endorsed Byrd mere hours after Mattie Parker went public with her bid to replace Mayor Betsy Price, who is not running for re-election after five terms in the office. Parker served as Price’s chief of staff from 2015 to 2020; before then, she worked as Granger’s district director and on her campaign until 2014. Her husband is a lobbyist who works for a firm once hired by the Fort Worth City Council to lobby the Texas Legislature on the taxpayer’s dime.

Granger is involved with the $1.2 billion taxpayer-funded Panther Island real estate redevelopment project—disguised as flood control—on the Trinity River near downtown Fort Worth. Her son, J.D. Granger, has helped helm the project, and after over a decade and $383 million of federal, state, and local taxpayer funds spent, it’s nowhere near completion.

The City of Fort Worth is listed as one of Panther Island’s stakeholders, and the city created a Tax Increment Reinvesting Zone (TIRZ)—a public financing tool to use increased property tax revenue for development projects—in 2003 to raise money for Panther Island.

The Trump administration denied more federal taxpayer funding for the project last year and required a flood study to be conducted. As of last September, federal funding still hadn’t come through, and the board of the Tarrant Regional Water District—the agency that manages Panther Island—refused to do a flood study.

In 2019, TRWD defied the Fort Worth City Council and Price on recommended changes to how the project should be managed.

A press inquiry was sent to Byrd asking if he’d bring more transparency to the Panther Island project and protect taxpayers, and how his policy would differ from Price’s. No response was received before publication time.

To date, Byrd, Parker, Tarrant County Democratic Chair Deborah Peoples, Councilwoman Ann Zadeh, Mike Haynes, and Chris Rector have filed to run for mayor.

Citizens curious about Byrd’s position on Panther Island may contact him through his campaign website.

Those interested in running for mayor or another city council position in the May 1 election can file between January 13 and February 12. Candidate filings and finance reports may be tracked at the city secretary’s elections website.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.