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Meet Dallas' Mayoral Candidates: Lynn McBee

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. 

Lynn McBee, candidate for Dallas mayor

Lynn McBee is a well-known Dallas philanthropist and research scientist who has spent most of her career at New England Biolabs.

For the past five years, McBee has served as CEO of the Young Women’s Prep Network and is known for her activism around education, homelessness and the promotion of students in STEM fields. 

While McBee’s career in science has nothing to do with commercial real estate, the candidate has gained the confidence of a few heavy hitters in CRE. 

Campaign finance donations on file at the city of Dallas from late 2018 and news reports show McBee secured donations from heirs of the Trammell Crow commercial real estate dynasty. 

Billingsley Co.’s Lucy Billingsley, Crow’s daughter, has financially supported McBee, D Magazine reports, and campaign finance documents on file with the city of Dallas show Henry Billingsley, Lucy's husband and also a leader at Billingsley Co., as a listed donor.

Trammell S. Crow, Trammell Crow's son, also is listed in McBee's campaign finance records and D Magazine reported on a fundraiser reportedly held by Crow for McBee. 

Bisnow: What do you believe is the role of City Council when it comes to commercial development in the city?

Lynn McBee: As mayor, I’ll lead the council to focus on basics, and especially public safety. When our city is at its safest, that’s when we’ve thrived the most. It’s time to get back to that place, so our city and our families can realize their true potential. And making basics like great public safety a priority is the way we attract quality commercial growth.

Bisnow: Do you believe affordable housing is an issue in Dallas? If so, what is your plan for addressing this issue?

McBee: The bottom line is that our city needs more housing stock, and we must look at ways to leverage all the tools available to us to make progress. I plan to review our voluntary inclusionary zoning to ensure that it is working as intended. I further believe there are other creative ideas to look at when it comes to housing that can help solve some of our issues, including developments that include a child care facility so that single mothers can have a safe space to send their children so they can rejoin the workforce, and improve the quality of their lives. We should also consider taking down I-345, not only to reshape mobility and transportation, but also to create a new zone of opportunity adjacent to downtown that would include quality, mixed-income and affordable housing.

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?

McBee: I’ve developed a five-point ethics plan that I’ll lead as mayor:

1. Create a culture of honesty by realigning our city’s guiding principles. I’ll ask department heads and senior staff to find ways to make their work more transparent, and I’ll ask elected officials to sign a pledge to work with honesty and integrity.

2. Restrict donations from developers. I will propose new ethics reforms that prohibit campaign donations from developers who have applied for or are receiving local, state or federal incentives. The city will provide a list of these individuals and it will be the candidates’ or local officials’ responsibility to refuse these donations.

3. Prohibit donations from children. I will propose new ethics reforms that prohibit campaign contributions from children under the age of 18.

4. More transparency from elected officials. For too long, our elected officials placed the duty of keeping City Hall honest on those outside of City Hall. This must stop. As mayor, I will propose new ethics reforms that require elected officials to report their meetings regarding city business, thus providing checks and balances since lobbyists are already required to report meetings.

5. A clear process for investigating violations. The Dallas Morning News recently reported that when it comes to monitoring campaign finance compliance, “oversight by Dallas officials is essentially nonexistent.” As mayor, I will formalize a process to monitor and investigate violators. I will work to have violations classified as Class C misdemeanors and referred to municipal court. Our elected officials should not be immune from following the rules and being punished when they do wrong. 

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? 

McBee: My primary economic development strategy for the city of Dallas is to focus on our city and improve basic services, infrastructure and public schools. The best way to attract economic development is to provide a higher quality of life.

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?

McBee: Much of this growth is due to [tax increment financing] that currently take $100M off of our tax rolls each year. We need to let these TIF zones play out, get these property tax revenues back in play and use them to maintain and invest in infrastructure and public safety that will support the long-term viability of these areas. As a city, our first goal must always be delivering safety and a great quality of life because if we are successful at that, then new development and opportunity will follow.

Bisnow: Why should the DFW area commercial real estate community vote for you?

McBee: Our city needs a fresh perspective from someone outside of politics who can rise above the fray, find common ground, focus on the mission and get things DONE. As a volunteer leader for the past 25 years, I’ve taken on some of Dallas’ toughest issues, including leadership roles on homelessness, fighting domestic abuse, improving public education and removing barriers to college for underserved students.

From more than 25 years of nonprofit work, I’ve learned that serving people is not just about raising money and managing budgets — that some of the biggest impacts come from simply how we treat each other, communicate and relate to each other as people.

Through my career in biotech, education and in serving our community, I’ve learned many valuable lessons. I’ve led boards and committees made up of different personalities and backgrounds — often as the only woman at the table — and I’ve seen firsthand that success is never about one person, one idea or a single approach to an issue. Successful leadership that solves problems is about bringing everyone to the table, aligning behind a shared mission and putting action behind vision. This collaborative, focused style is the same approach I’ll take as mayor, focusing on creating the best quality of life for those who choose to make Dallas home.

Lynn McBee 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.

Bisnow does not endorse any mayoral candidate. The candidates’ responses are published in their own words.