Dallas businessman Albert Black is transitioning out of the leading role at his 36-year-old company On Target Supplies & Logistics with the hopes of landing an even bigger job: Dallas mayor.
On Wednesday, Black filed for the May 2019 mayoral election, becoming the first candidate to enter the race. To kick off his campaign, he’s planning a community event at 10 a.m. Saturday at at the Frazier Community Center in Frazier Courts, the neighborhood southeast of Fair Park where Black grew up. Black hopes his campaign will resonate with a broad group of constituents.
“I believe we can produce an economy that no matter what neighborhood you’re from, no matter your background or immigration status, we can … include you,” Black said. “It’s going to take a lot of work. That’s the work of our campaign.”
Black, born and raised in Dallas, has served as president and CEO of On Target since 1982, when he and his wife founded the company. On Target has since become one of the largest minority-owned firms in Dallas, employing 200 people. He also serves as chairman of the Charles Sammons Cancer Center and as the chairman of the Dallas Housing Authority.
He served as the first African-American chairman of the Dallas Regional Chamber from 2000 to 2002. There, he worked with former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk to develop international joint trade missions and build business partnerships for the city. He also previously served as the chairman of the board for Baylor Health Care System, where he once worked as a cook in the kitchen of one of its hospitals. At Baylor, he helped oversee the merger with Scott and White and established The Baylor Diabetes Health & Wellness Institute, the first health center in Frazier Courts.
Black sat down with me yesterday to lay out his priorities for the city. Here are the issues he plans to address during his campaign:
- Economic Development/Housing: Black wants to address economic development at all “compass points” of the city, including more neighborhoods in development plans. Part of that means supporting the current big projects and improving on them, he said. “We don’t want gentrification,” he said. “We do want revitalization.” And that means focusing on mixed income housing through the help of vouchers. He’s hoping to incentivize people to come back to Dallas, which could also draw back police officers, firefighters, and teachers, he said. He uses Bishop Arts as an example of the success he’d like to build on. It’s a part of a group of economic development designs for southern Dallas that Black, then economic development chair, presented to then Mayor Kirk. “When you come to Bishop Arts, it makes you believe something great is going on downtown,” he said. “It’s got that swagger. You feel like you’re in an urban area.” Black said he believes he has the track record in economic development and housing to create inclusive and diverse communities. “My track record is easy to find,” he said. “Experience matters … Let’s stop thinking you parachute into issues like poverty.”
- Transportation: Black says in 1999, the thought was that Dallas would become a pedestrian city. But then the city’s core began to dissipate and move to the suburbs. Now it’s time to bring the population back to the core and revitalize the energy downtown. “We don’t need all the highways we have, let alone the toll roads we don’t have,” he said. “There’s room for a lot of pedestrian ways.” He thinks Dallas could improve pedestrian traffic from El Fenix down to the Katy Trail, for example. And he thinks there are ways to finance that with help from North Texas economic development groups.
- Healthcare: Black believes the city has a big role to play in healthcare. “The idea that healthcare should be left to the federal government, while we sit on our hands, is nonsense,” he said. So Black wants to use his 33 years of experience serving on a healthcare board to build collaboration. “Do we have these leaders working together thinking about designing healthcare for the future?” When he was chairman of the Dallas Regional Chamber, Black considered it a necessity to bring healthcare executives onto the board. Previously, they were discounted as people who weren’t as involved in the corporate world. Collaboration was the natural result of bringing their expertise to the board, he said. And some of that collaboration was what enabled the diabetes center to open in Black’s former neighborhood. Previously, a lack of access to healthcare services has led the community to even bigger problems, he said. “We’ve been able to come in and help people live longer and avoid surgeries that poorer people have had to endure,” Black said.
- Parks: Prior to launching his campaign, Black has spent time meeting with people across the city from different neighborhoods to determine what’s important to them. He said from those interactions, he’s determined parks are a big part of the living experience. And it’s an area that helps bring people of all walks of life together to mix and learn about each other. “When people learn together, grow together, have fun together, what we have is an exercise in a better life,” he said. So Black wants parks to become an amenity that will attract people to Dallas neighborhoods.
A lot of what Black talks about, assuming he is able to clench the mayoral seat, would require major funding. But Black said he knows there’s a way to accomplish it all.
“We just passed a $1 billion bond offer,” he said. “So when Dallas wants to, we raise the money. Citizens will invest in things they believe in.”