An ally of the “defund police” coalition in Dallas last year is one of those challenging embattled Dallas Councilman Adam Bazaldua for re-election. This means there are two pro-defund candidates known to be vying for office in a major Texas city, and Gov. Greg Abbott has asked the Texas Legislature to prevent defunding police.

On May 1, Dallas citizens will decide who will represent them in the 14-member city council. They will also vote on the city council’s proposal to allow noncitizens on four of the remaining city boards and commissions where citizenship is required—including their redistricting commission.

Citizens in District 7, which Bazaldua currently represents, have eight candidates to consider.

One of those candidates is Walter “Changa” Higgins, leader of the Dallas Community Police Oversight Coalition (DCPOC). DCPOC is among those that helped organize the protests-turned-riots last summer and pushed for the city council to defund the Dallas Police Department.

Abbott made preventing defunding police an emergency priority for the Texas Legislature this session. Higgins and Fort Worth mayoral candidate Deborah Peoples are the two pro-defund activists currently running for local office in a major Texas city.

Bazaldua was praised last year by one of Higgins’ allies, Dominique Alexander, when he proposed raiding $7 million of taxpayer money from the police budget to grow other government programs, like art and green energy. Citizen outrage forced Bazaldua to slightly alter course, and he instead proposed to use most of the $7 million to move 95 police officers from desk work to patrol.

Higgins is now among those seeking to unseat Bazaldua. Higgins’ campaign website advertises many of his campaign issues, among which is a repeated attempt to raid taxpayer money from the police budget for “community services.”

Other campaign issues on his website include protecting immigrants, supporting a $15 per hour minimum wage, LGBTQ equality, reducing heavy industry, and supporting an “Environmental Health Commission.”

Higgins has previously been involved in police issues, successfully pushing the city council in 2019 to pass controversial reforms of the city’s Citizens Police Review Board that citizens opposed.

Amid the efforts of many to defund police, Dallas was among the five major Texas cities that saw skyrocketing crime in 2020. Austin was the only other city to make cuts to police funding.

Citizens may keep track of all proposed bills at Texas Legislature Online, and Dallas voters may review all candidates for city council office in their district at the city secretary website. Election Day is May 1.

Robert Montoya

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