Meet Dallas' Mayoral Candidates: Albert Black
Dallas voters will pick the city’s next mayor on May 4.
Each of the nine candidates remaining has opined on the need for Dallas to focus on transportation, urban renewal, education, affordable housing and workforce development.
But what would each candidate’s platform mean for commercial real estate?
Bisnow sent questionnaires to every candidate in the Dallas mayor’s race to find out and will run the responses of all candidates who provide feedback.
Albert Black’s campaign website for Dallas mayor traces his history from a childhood living in the Frazier Court housing projects to a lifetime of achievement as a business leader.
Black's father would reportedly come home and tell his young son about all of the city leaders he had opened doors for as a doorman at the Baker Hotel in Downtown Dallas. That left a lasting impression on his son, and Black, who serves as president and CEO of On-Target Supplies & Logistics, has developed a reputation for working with both business and city leaders during his long career.
Black was chairman of the Dallas Housing Authority until he resigned last year. He has served on the Park South YMCA board and the Black Chamber of Commerce. He also advocated for small businesses, while building his own family business in the DFW area.
Black said he hopes to leverage his understanding of the city, the business community and local residents — and those struggling to be first-generation leaders — to win votes.
Bisnow asked Black how he would specifically address commercial real estate issues in the city.
Bisnow: What do you believe is the role of City Council when it comes to commercial development in the city?
Albert Black: City Council sets the rules by which commercial development occurs. Its most important role is to protect the safety of the public through building codes and permitting. The second is, to quote the city, “help ensure a city will grow and change in a managed, predictable way to help safeguard the health, safety and welfare of the general public” through zoning. The third is to make sure that when a developer requests special treatment from the city, where the city has discretion, that the city’s goals and objectives are being served. For example, does the project create good jobs for Dallasites? Does it help revitalize a neighborhood without contributing to gentrification? Does it improve or burden the surrounding infrastructure?
Bisnow: Do you believe affordable housing is an issue in Dallas? If so, what is your plan for addressing this issue?
Black: Yes, absolutely. I have proposed a housing trust fund initially funded through bond financing to jump-start funding for affordable housing. I have also proposed leveraging existing Community Development Block Grant funds to fund neighborhood remediation programs, and neighborhood beautification grants to fight blight and decay and help residents stay in their homes in the face of gentrification.
We need smart housing strategies that include new construction instead of empty lots. My “Come Back To Dallas!” initiative will feature incentives to bring home police officers, teachers, nurses and firefighters who have been pushed out to the suburbs by high home costs.
Bisnow: There have been instances of developers and council members throughout North Texas facing legal consequences for bribes and undue influence when it comes to housing and commercial developments. What do you plan to do to tackle that particular issue?
Black: Elective office is one of the highest honors bestowed on our citizens. Abusing power and breaking the public’s trust is not acceptable under any circumstances. We need stronger ethics legislation that would include tougher restrictions on campaign donations from those seeking to do business with the city and more transparency to expose potential conflicts of interest.
Bisnow: If you only had time to focus on one issue in terms of commercial development, what issue would that be and how would you address it?
Black: At the city government level, we need better governance. That means more fairness, transparency and accountability — so that the public can really get under the hood of major initiatives and understand who benefits. Responsible development is a good thing. It’s how we keep our city growing, our economy strong and more jobs flowing into Dallas. But too often, politicians push a project as responsible development when it’s really just a land grab that pushes people out of their homes.
Bisnow: As more redevelopment goes on Downtown, in Fair Park and in Deep Ellum, more high-priced apartments and other facilities are coming in. What is your view of these redeveloping areas and what role do you believe the city plays in sustaining them?
Black: It’s been exciting to watch the rebirth of Downtown. Improved connectivity, transit and walkability are crucial. In the last century, Dallas was built around one transportation technology — the automobile — and Downtown emptied out. We must also strive not to invest in Downtown only for high-income residents. Our policies should encourage housing in and around Downtown that is affordable for families and seniors. This is possible if the housing is connected to good transit.
Bisnow: Why should the DFW area commercial real estate community vote for you?
Black: I would encourage the community to take a look at my record of accomplishment and my history of bringing people together to get the job done for Dallas.
I grew up in the segregated Frazier Courts public housing projects, and went on to become the chairman of the Dallas Housing Authority, working for safer and more affordable housing for every family.
I worked as a cook at Baylor Hospital as a young man, and went on to become the first African American chairman of the board for the Baylor Hospital System, where I established a diabetes and wellness center right back in my childhood neighborhood, Frazier Courts.
I helped bring Paul Quinn College to Dallas, and, as a regent on boards of Baylor University and St. Louis University, championed and created ZIP-code-based scholarships for students living in poverty-stricken areas of Dallas so they could afford to be attend undergraduate, law school and medical school.
I am running for mayor to keep our community safe, create jobs by investing in local business, expand affordable housing, and increase access to healthcare — for all of us. All of that is good for Dallas, and good for your members.
Albert Black and four other Dallas mayoral candidates will debate CRE topics including multifamily affordability and development at Bisnow's Multifamily Annual Conference May 2. Click here to register and to learn more about the scheduled speakers.