Things Scott Griggs’ mayoral announcement had that his opponents didn’t: A doorman. A valet. A bar. A giant photo of boots worn with jeans. A giant sepia-bathed photo of the candidate as a cherub-faced little leaguer. Other council members, including Philip Kingston and former councilwoman Angela Hunt doing a comedy bit. At least one nervous TV reporter, hoping that the speakers would get going before the 6 p.m. newscast.
Somewhere around 250 attendees uncomfortably packed themselves into the D.E.C. on Dragon, in the Design District, milling about, listening to Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69” and other “Summer of ’69”-adjacent songs. (Can we call it Scott Rock?)
[Editor’s Note: An addendum here because of how this piece was framed earlier, courtesy Brian Mayes, the campaign manager for mayoral candidate Mike Ablon: Ablon had a rally at the Katy Trail Ice House on Tuesday that attracted about 400 people. D was unaware of it. That’s our fault.]
Griggs, the term-limited North Oak Cliff councilman, began teasing the event on a billboard on Interstate 35 a little over a week ago, featuring a close-up of his boots (verified! He wore them last night!) and yesterday’s date. The event was billed as a “celebration honoring Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs” with a “special announcement with special guests,” and it was so obviously a mayoral announcement (the invite even came from a @griggsfordallas.com email address) that I was secretly wishing at least one person would joke that, no, Griggs wasn’t running for mayor, that, in fact, he and his family were moving to Austin. That didn’t happen. And he was all smiles. Before he took to the stage, the councilman looked out into the crowd and reflected on the “great turnout.” It’s people from all over Dallas,” he said.
A few Park Board members were there, Becky Rader and Jesse Moreno, who was manning the signup desks. Speeches soon came from Griggs’ neighbor, another community member, and council members Adam Medrano and Omar Narvaez (can I note that the latter has an impressively clear yelling voice? It sounds as if someone simply turned the sound up on a television), Hunt and Kingston did a little comedy act around the wide speculation of their own runs.
Hunt: “Since it’s just us talking, what do you think? You running for mayor? Is that something?”
Kingston: “I’m not running for mayor. Are you running for mayor?”
Hunt: “No, I’m not running for mayor. Why does everyone—oh, it’s Scott!”
Then it was back to business. Hunt gave a brief rundown about the young guy from Oak Cliff who got tired of the way his district was being represented and then ran for office and won. Kingston informed the audience that this would be “the most important election in the history of the city of Dallas.”
“If that sounds like hyperbole to you, let me explain a couple things,” he said. “There have been two mayors that have succeeded in winning the seat without being the establishment’s candidate. But with no ability to build a coalition on the Council, their ability to change the city was limited. And that is about to change.”
Griggs walked to the podium and laid out his case, which he had typed out on three pieces of paper. If you have been following Griggs around the horseshoe these past eight years, none of it was particularly surprising. A patent lawyer by trade—and with an undergrad in chemistry—Griggs is a hawk. He’s a diligent researcher, and he’s not afraid to file a flurry of open records requests when something catches his eye.
In his speech, he touted killing the toll road between the Trinity River levees. (The crowd goes wild.) He brought up fighting a secret deal that would’ve allowed gas drilling on city-owned parkland. (Much applause.) He was instrumental in helping save the police and fire pension. (Comparable applause.) He supported settling a decades-old lawsuit over police and fire pay. (Less applause, but some.) And then he hung on the rim a bit, citing the city’s decision to bring in an outsider city manager to offer a new vision to City Hall. (I’d put the applause here at about pension-saving level.) He also ran down the successes of Oak Cliff, doubling down on the importance of growing the city neighborhood by neighborhood.
“We must return the power to the people of the city of Dallas,” he said.
Griggs laid out his platform: more money for police and fire, “more housing that’s affordable,” the continued support of Dallas ISD, “making sure we have a 21st-century transportation system,” and bringing economic development to all of Dallas. He said it was time to open up the city’s land bank to private development, which currently has around 1,500 empty lots. He wants to motivate the building of more single family homes. He vowed to stop focusing on “vanity projects” like the Calatrava bridges and instead fix the city’s crumbling infrastructure. Griggs said he would stand up to DART, because, “if you want to take DART to get to your job, you should not lose your job because it’s a two-hour commute.”
“This year the city of Dallas is going to elect a new mayor, and the new mayor is going to have the ability to change things,” Griggs said. “Dallas needs a new kind of mayor. The mayors of the past have not worked.”
There were some Griggsian greatest hits, too. If you were, say, posted up at the bar and decided to take a drink every time you heard one of these, you would’ve taken seven shots in 20 minutes. I would hope that you would tip your bartender accordingly. The rundown: two references to “establishment,” one to “grassroots candidate,” one to “most important election in Dallas history,” one Citizens Council jab, only one “boondoggle,” and just a single reference to the whitewater rapids in the Trinity that had to be torn out.
And then it was over. Kingston took the mic and began asking for donations. Griggs took it back and requested everyone sign the petition to get his name on the ballot; there appeared to be enough to at least flirt with the 300-signature threshold. And then the music came back on, and about a dozen supporters held their Scott Griggs signs high in the air.
He’s the seventh entrant into the race so far. These include the aforementioned Mike Ablon, the real estate developer best known for his work in the Design District; Albert Black, the Oak Cliff businessman; Larry Casto, the former city attorney; Lynn McBee, the volunteer, philanthropist, and recent Highland Park transplant; Regina Montoya, the lawyer and former Hillary Clinton aide; and Miguel Solis, the Dallas ISD trustee who announced his own run earlier this week. It also appears that former state Rep. Jason Villalba is seriously considering his own run, which he may announce next week.