FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – With tears in his eyes and his wife Rosie at his side, Mayor Mike Moncrief announced Thursday that he would not be seeking an unprecedented fifth mayoral term.
Moncrief, who was on the brink of possibly making Fort Worth political history, made the official announcement at a 2:30 p.m. news conference.
In prepared remarks, Moncrief said, “Eight years ago, I believed and indeed stated that a mayor should serve for no more than four terms and then allow new ideas and leadership to step forward… I still believe that today. Therefore, I will not seek re-election to a fifth term as your mayor.”
The current mayor was, at times, tearful during his speech. He praised citizens, staffers and his family. During his tenure, Moncrief helped develop, and eventually approved, the city’s comprehensive 10-year program to reduce homelessness called Directions Home.
That population has dropped from nearly 2,900 in 2007 to just more than 2,200 in 2010.
“I really wouldn’t be at where I am today without Mike Moncreif,” said James Tapscott, who plunged into homeless in 2006 and lived on the streets of Fort Worth for two years. “Without Directions Home, I might still be out there on the streets … What he started has taken on a life of its own and will continue.”
During Thursday’s press conference, an emotional Moncrief cited his accomplishments, which also included helping the region win a bid to host a Super Bowl. He mentioned his commitment to the Omni Downtown Convention Center Hotel, which opened in 2009, highway expansion in the area and placing four fire fighters on each truck for safety.
“He’s provided aggressive, visionary leadership,” said former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr. “He has made things happen. I don’t think we’ve had a better example of that than the Super Bowl, which was just a major hit in downtown Fort Worth and wouldn’t have happened without his leadership.”
Had Moncrief ran for office for a fifth time, won the election and served a full term, he would have been the city’s longest-serving mayor.
During the press conference, Moncrief made it clear that he won’t be running for another office, saying he is exiting public life, but that his “dedication to the city is never-ending.”
Moncrief has a deep political history. He was elected to the Texas Legislature in 1971, later became a Tarrant County judge and also served as a Texas State Senator.
Allan Saxe, a professor at the University of Texas in Arlington, wrote a book about Moncrief. Saxe, however, said Moncrief is leaving politics without attaining one of his goals.
“I really believe his great ambition was to be governor of Texas and he would have been a good governor and the time just didn’t hit right,” Saxe said.
Moncrief is scheduled to give his eighth State of the City Address on Feb. 23.
“What we have had for the last eight years is someone who’s a tireless champion for this community,” said Bill Thornton, president of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.