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Erik Richerson is one of eight candidates running to represent Fort Worth residents in the city’s central District 9.
Last month, Richerson sat down with Texas Scorecard to discuss his candidacy, rising crime in the city, police accountability, property taxes, and Panther Island.
Three years ago, Richerson and his wife moved to Fort Worth from Seattle, Washington. He is on the worship team of Mercy Culture and serves with his wife in pastoral care at the church.
Despite being relatively new to Fort Worth, Richerson’s family has a long history with the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“My dad was born in this region, in Plano, Texas, and my grandmother, Gracie Lee Bryant, picked cotton here in this area in the late 1800s/early 1900s,” he said.
He was not shy in sharing his thoughts about race and how media outlets, such as CNN, have handled the issue.
“I feel that politically, and with those particular news media outlets, they’ve done a terrible job bringing people together,” Richerson said.
“If you look at what happened with the riots, and antifa, and Black Lives Matter … we did not create those movements,” he said. “Martin Luther King never burned down the city. Martin Luther King never promoted violence or throwing bricks through windows, or doing all these different things. Rosa Parks, she sat down on the bus; she didn’t burn the bus.”
“I believe that in Fort Worth, there’s a better way,” Richerson continued. “I believe we can do it with a biblical understanding of the biblical values that have been [a] staple in this community for years.”
“I do not support defunding the police,” Richerson stated. “In the African American community, we want policing. And in the Hispanic community, we want policing.”
In fact, Richerson has spent time getting to know many members of the Fort Worth Police Department.
Richerson believes the FWPD is “one of the most diverse police departments in the United States.”
“We have to sit at the table and have a conversation,” he said. “You cannot label all police departments bad because of one individual that does something bad.”
Richerson also believes in police accountability and transparency, and he echoed the words of Fort Worth Police Officer Association President Manny Ramirez. “If there’s somebody that has done something wrong at the Fort Worth Police Department, they need to be held accountable, and let go, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law just like any other citizen.”
Another public safety issue for Richerson is human trafficking. He’s on the leadership team of The Justice Reform—which is dedicating to fighting human trafficking—and shared an incident that occurred in Ryan Place, an area near Texas Christian University.
“There was a mom that was walking her daughter. I think her daughter was maybe 7 [or] 8 years old,” he recalled. “A gentleman just pulled up in a vehicle and snatched her out of her mom’s hand in broad daylight in a good neighborhood and took her off … to a hotel and [a] horrible, horrible situation.”
The Fort Worth PD was actually able to get the little girl back to her parents. But how many kids are not back with their parents?
“I will do everything in my power to support the fight against human [and] sex trafficking in our city,” he said.
Lives and Livelihood
In regards to local government COVID mandates, Richerson makes his position clear.
“I think [Fort Worth] should be 100 percent open right now, without mandates,” he said.
He also addressed Fort Worth going into the coronavirus situation in poor financial health, needing an additional $9,400 per taxpayer to pay off its debts.
Richerson said the main way to address that is to “stop funding non-essential practices,” adding the city should fulfill its retirement obligations.
He does want to cut homeowners’ property tax bills, which have shot up by more than 46 percent for the city’s average homeowner since 2013 (according to Tarrant Appraisal District data). Richerson said he’d work to cut the property tax rate enough to offset increases in appraised values.
Richerson is also against Fort Worth practicing taxpayer-funded lobbying. “They should not be doing that,” he said.
“I remember someone asked me one time, ‘What would you do with this multimillion-dollar budget, Erik?’ I said there’s a lot of things I’d like to do with it, and I do have some good ideas. And, obviously, that’s what I’m supposed to do as a leader and have some foresight, but it’s not my money. It’s the citizens’ money.”
That leads to another problem affecting citizens’ wallets.
Regarding the $1.2 billion taxpayer-funded real estate redevelopment project on the Trinity River, disguised as flood control, Richerson was asked if he’d support a forensic and financial audit to find out where taxpayer money went.
“I’m 100 percent [open] to find out where the taxpayers’ dollars went because I’m one of the taxpayers,” he said. “I think an audit would be amazing.”
One of the concerns Richerson said he was hearing from citizens in District 9 was that transients and homeless people are coming into the area.
“The best way to help the homeless is to hold them accountable,” he said. “The biggest thing that we can do to love is to hold people accountable and give them opportunities to get back on their feet and do better.”
I think that I would be okay with having programs that said, ‘We’ll help you get back on your feet, but we’re not going let you break the law in our city.’
Early voting for the May 1 election runs from April 19 through April 27. Citizens can see all the candidates running for Fort Worth mayor and city council by going to the city secretary’s election website.