By Jack Fink

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Tensions ran high Monday, June 14, as the new Dallas City Council chose their Mayor Pro Tem and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem.

The debate didn’t center around who they chose, but how long they should serve in those positions.

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Council members voted 10-5 to shorten the term of the two leadership positions from two years to one.

They then unanimously selected Chad West of District 1 as the Mayor Pro Tem and Jaime Resendez of District 5 as the Deputy Mayor Pro Tem.

It was quite a contrast from the Inauguration ceremony earlier in the morning, when city leaders were publicly all-smiles and offered congratulatory wishes.

Mayor Eric Johnson told council members there was no time for acrimony that defines state and national politics.

“It’s not about what divides us, it’s time to let go of the old political divisions,” he said.

The political atmosphere changed an hour or so later when the new council’s first official meeting began.

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Council Member Adam Bazaldua proposed changing the terms for Mayor Pro Tem and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem.

“I move the terms of Mayor Pro Tem and Deputy Pro Tem be one year for both offices at the last agenda meeting of June 2022,” he said.

As part of the Council’s custom, the Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem are represented by council members who are African-American, Latino, and white.

Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said she supported the shorter term to give people of different backgrounds a chance to serve in those roles. “There’s been no consideration to the inclusion of Asian, Native-Americans or Island-Pacificers and other demographic identities like religion, age, disability, sexual identity, and most notably gender.”

Council Member Carolyn King Arnold said she had some concerns about the proposal but strongly criticized the way she and other women are treated at City Hall. “There is a severe lack of respect for women at City Hall. So we need to start today to speak openly about it. We are being left out here at City Hall around leadership.”

But Council Member Omar Narvaez said the timing for the discussion was wrong and he opposed the proposal. “I didn’t come to City Hall to sit in a seat for a year as a participation trophy because I check enough boxes. I came to City Hall to work, I came to City Hall to lead this city. If we’re going to be one Dallas, then let’s be one Dallas.”

Mayor Johnson also opposed reducing the terms for Mayor Pro Tem and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem. “That’s what I’m worried about: Having this discussion twice as frequently. I feel like we can address the problem without creating a potential new one of introducing so much more politics into this body.”

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Council members said they will likely discuss the issue in more detail and specifics in a committee meeting later this summer or year.