After their original pick for mayor unexpectedly backed out, sources have told Texas Scorecard that the Fort Worth establishment has picked Mattie Parker, Mayor Betsy Price’s former chief of staff. Parker’s husband is a lobbyist who currently works for a lobbying firm that was once hired by the city, and he has been on the board of an organization that manages some local taxpayer dollars since 2011.
When Mayor Price announced she would not run for re-election earlier this month, lawyer Dee Kelly Jr., whose father was a power player in Fort Worth politics, was backed by the establishment to be the next mayor. Last week, Kelly shocked everyone with his last-minute decision to not run.
Sources say his decision threw local politics awry and sent the establishment scrambling to find a new candidate to back. And in May, there could potentially be six city council seats up for grabs without an incumbent.
On January 12, sources informed Texas Scorecard the establishment has settled on Mattie Parker, Price’s former chief of staff until April 2020, to replace her.
Parker’s husband, David Parker, has been working as a lobbyist for 13 years and works for lobbying firm Longbow Partners.
In 2014, Longbow was hired by the Fort Worth City Council to be taxpayer-funded lobbyists representing the city government to the Texas Legislature.
The one-year contract started on October 1, 2014, with a one-year renewal option. David Parker joined Longbow in January 2015. In May 2015, his wife started working as Price’s chief of staff. Her Facebook account shows they’ve been married since 2008.
The contract stipulated Longbow would be paid no more than $4,000 per month in taxpayer dollars, up to a maximum of $48,000 “for services and expenses.”
David Parker also currently sits on the board of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 8 in Fort Worth, appointed by the city council.
A TIRZ is a public financing tool using increased property tax revenue for downtown development projects. A government agency is set up to manage spending while TIRZ revenues are paid back to the lender.
Parker’s term on the board expires on December 31, 2021, and documents show he has been there since 2011.
Since Kelly’s decision, Councilman Brian Byrd has announced his run for mayor, as well as Councilwoman Ann Zadeh. Democrat Deborah Peoples is expected to join the race, and Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray is reportedly considering entering the fray.
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.