DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – On Monday, June 14, the Dallas City Council will begin a new term with four new members around the horseshoe at City Hall.
While Mayor Eric Johnson wasn’t on the ballot, he will enter the second half of his freshman term.READ MORE: Family Battles Scarborough Renaissance Festival And Texas Law Over Sexual Assault On Fairgrounds
“I want to get back to basics,” he said.
During an interview Wednesday, June 9, the Mayor said he’s looking forward to speaking with new council members Paul Ridley, Jesse Moreno, Jaynie Schultz, and Gay Willis.
“I’ve had a chance to exchange some texts, we’re going to get together in person here soon to talk about priorities. I’m pretty excited about that, I want to wish them congratulations.”
In Saturday’s runoff elections, Ridley unseated incumbent David Blewett in the 14th District, while Moreno, Schultz, and Willis defeated opponents to fill the open seats in the 2nd, 11th, and 13th Districts respectively.
Mayor Johnson said he wants to improve the 911 call center, where there are 26 vacant positions and where it’s taking more than twice as long as this time last year to have a 911 call answered.
It’s now an average of 13 seconds.
The Mayor also wants to reduce murders and assaults and said he supports Chief Eddie Garcia’s plan to do so.
“I hope in this upcoming budget hope this new council understands why it’s so important to prioritize public safety and give him the resources that he needs to make sure the department can deliver on that public safety promise that all our residents want.”
Another problem the city has faced is the permitting process for construction projects.
A new electronic system that began before the pandemic caused a backlog of more than 460 applications during the pre-screening process last year.READ MORE: Teen Jeremiah Tabb Arrested While In Summer School In Connection To Downtown Austin Shooting
City records show to get through that and the first plan review extended to 15 weeks at one point.
The staff reduced that to two to three weeks.
For commercial projects, it still takes about four to six weeks to get through the initial plan review.
As of June 1, there were 939 projects.
Mayor Johnson said, “This is a big deal. Making sure that we can actually permit new development and the types of things that grow our tax base, which will help us relieve the tax burden on our residents, is of critical importance.”
When it comes to brush and bulky trash pick-up, the city says spikes in volume have delayed collections.
The Mayor said, “The bulky trash has been sitting out on the curb in some neighborhoods for weeks.”
With 14 council members and the Mayor, it is often said the magic number around the horseshoe is eight votes.
But Mayor Johnson said regarding the big-picture items, he’s hoping for more than a simple majority.
“We’re not looking for a bunch of eight to seven votes on these issues I just laid out. We need 15 to zero votes if we can, on the priorities I just laid out.”
The Mayor will assign council members to committees this summer and the council will start discussing the city budget in August.MORE NEWS: Heated Debate Over Leadership Positions During New Dallas Council's First Meeting
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW HERE