The crowded Dallas mayoral race has lost a contender. This morning, former city attorney Larry Casto announced he’s dropping out, citing a desire to focus on “changing the law and finding new ways to address old problems.” He is endorsing candidate Mike Ablon, the developer known for his work in the Design District. Casto’s statement:
“This is about Dallas. I would have loved to serve as the Mayor of Dallas. I love this City and its people. I am proud of my accomplishments as City Attorney and as Legislative Director. I will be even prouder when we come together as a community to make the changes necessary for this City to continue to grow, to be a safe and prosperous place for families to raise their children, own a home, find meaningful work and enjoy unique, cultural amenities.”
His decision follows this week’s release of a first round of campaign finance reports from candidates who filed to run in 2018. That included Casto, and his haul came in at $30,500, showing he’d fallen behind in gathering money to bolster his campaign. Philanthropist Lynn McBee announced her candidacy around the same time and has already banked about a quarter million dollars. Oak Cliff businessman Albert Black has, too, although he’s been able to raise money since he announced all the way back in July.
The reports showed Casto took out a $50,000 loan to himself and that his campaign had spent a total of $4,999 so far, but that he had nothing in the bank.
Casto announced his run in late November inside the top floor of Oak Cliff’s Jefferson Tower, becoming the fourth hat in the ring. He discussed a plan to rework Tax Increment Financing districts in a way that would freeze property taxes around new development, cutting down on displacement. That’s a change that would require legislation at the state level.
Casto had the experience to get something like that passed. An employee with the city since the early 1990s, he worked most of those years as the city’s chief lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and Austin. In 2016, he returned to Dallas to become city attorney, taking on the pension fiasco before stepping down in August 2018, hinting in his resignation that the mayoral race loomed around the corner.
On Friday, he said he’ll continue to make strides toward a WISER Dallas, an acronym he used during his campaign. It represents Wealth creation opportunities, Institutional reform, Safe neighborhoods, Educational opportunities that attract and retain middle income families, and Reinvestment in neighborhoods and communities that revitalizes without displacing families.
He offered his endorsement for Ablon:
“Mike understands the needs of this City as well as anyone. He and I share the same goals for Dallas and the vision for how to achieve them.” Explaining that Mike Ablon will be a great partner in his efforts, Casto stated that he looks forward both to helping Ablon win the election and to working with him both in Dallas and Austin. “Mike Ablon will be a champion for all citizens in all neighborhoods. By joining forces, we can make Dallas a priority.”