Former Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston is running for county commissioner. This has been an open secret since late last month, but it seemed to become less hush-hush this week; it has bookended more than a few conversations I have had since Monday. Kingston made it official today and filed the paperwork with WFAA’s Jason Whitely in tow.
Kingston, an attorney by trade, lost his District 14 council seat in 2019, felled by a banker and a father and a former SMU football player named David Blewett, whose platform was basically that he was not Philip Kingston. He sat out the next cycle, and Paul Ridley, Kingston’s former plan commissioner, beat Blewett to win the seat in May.
Kingston says he didn’t have any plans to run for anything until he got wind of how the county commissioner’s court was redrawing its districts. Each of the options showed that Kingston’s Belmont Addition home in East Dallas would no longer be in District 1, which was represented by the Democrat Theresa Daniel. He would now be in District 2, the sole seat on the Commissioners Court held by a Republican—J.J. Koch.
“I can’t be represented by somebody like that,” Kingston told me Thursday afternoon. “It’s not OK. … There hasn’t been any particular showing of competence on just basic policy accomplishments for the betterment of the people of Dallas.”
There he is. What will he bring to the seat, if he’s elected?
“I’m a person who accomplishes things,” he said. “It’s a big list of stuff that I’ve done and I’m very proud of it — cite and release, rest breaks for construction workers, all manner of bond-funded projects that include connections and urbanism in Dallas. I don’t see that in the leadership of District 2 right now.”
I couldn’t reach Koch this afternoon, but he tweeted that Kingston “will do more to get me re-elected than anyone could imagine. Thank you Philip and your huge ego!”
Koch is probably best known for filing a lawsuit challenging County Judge Clay Jenkins’ mask mandate; a state appeals court has ruled in favor of Jenkins, but the case has been appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.
Koch also tried to appeal to the court’s lawyers to block the redrawing of his district, which used Census data to pull in more Hispanic voters, likely diluting the Republican influence. The maps the court passed spread likely Republican voters into three neighboring districts. After Koch expressed a desire to keep a pocket of “Anglo folks in the northeast corner” of the district, the Dallas Morning News reported that the county’s voting rights consultants informed Koch that using race to determine boundaries would violate the federal Voting Rights Act.
But Kingston will have to get through the Democratic primary and opponents Andrew Sommerman, a trial lawyer, and Tom Ervin, who works in mergers and acquisitions.
“I don’t think it’s unfair for me to say I’m the most prepared, including the incumbent,” Kingston said. “I think I know a lot more about how government works than anyone else in this race.”
Get your popcorn ready, Dallas County.