District 109 election not business as usual


By Rita Cook / The Ellis County Press

DESOTO – With the announcement at her church she won’t be running for another term in 2018, Texas State Representative Helen Giddings is leaving her seat wide open for a variety of possibilities. 

Having served now for 13th terms, Giddings announced last week it will be her last.

District 109 consists Ferris, Wilmer, Hutchins, Glenn Heights, DeSoto, Lancaster, Ovilla, Cedar Hill and a small section of Oak Cliff.

So, let’s look at a few of the likely names to be brought up in serious discussion as Giddings’ possible successor.

It seems DeSoto has a good possibility of several candidates coming from that city and perhaps we might see one candidate from Oak Cliff as well.

With not much time the primaries are March 6, 2018 followed by the November 2018 election with the successor taking the seat in early 2019.

With all those factors in place my first choice for a likely candidate to step in and run for the seat is former DeSoto Mayor Carl Sherman.

Sherman has been doing the rounds in the cities in this District and he knows his stuff well. He was the first black mayor of the City of DeSoto voted in May 2010 and voter turnout is always impressive in DeSoto.

Sherman is also easy to like. Since he termed out in DeSoto after two terms and was not able to seek a mayoral re-election he went on to take the reins as City Manager, first in Ferris and currently in the city of Hutchins.

He’s been a part of municipal government since 2003 and he knows how to manage not only people, but large budgets. 

He seems to have a knack for taking a city’s economic development and turning it into a win-win situation.

While he sat in the mayor seat the city experienced a 40-percent increase in sales tax revenue and unemployment went from 9.7-percent to five percent. 

He was also appointed to the NTTA Board of Directors by the Dallas County Commissioners Court in October 2016 and he was the first African American in positions such as the President of the DeSoto Rotary Club, board chair of the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce, and board chair of the best Southwest Chamber of Commerce.

He is also an executive member of the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition Board and the River of Trade Corridor Coalition.

He’s a name that people know in the Best Southwest region of North Texas.

The current mayor of DeSoto, Curtistene McCowan could decide to run, but she seems happy with her mayor’s seat at the moment. McCowan is the first female mayor of DeSoto.

She has been on the DeSoto City Council since 2012 and she chaired the Audit and Finance Committee as well as having served a number of years on the DeSoto Economic Development Corporation Board of Director.

Mayor McCowan also served on the Texas Southern University Board of Regents.

She was the first African-American elected to public office in DeSoto, when she won a seat on the DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees in 1990 where she served two three-year terms as a School Board Trustee – two of those years as President.

A third possibility is Dallas City Councilmember, Tennell Atkins, District 8. He was first elected in June 2007 to represent Dallas City Council District 8, which is the southernmost district of Dallas. He just began his fifth term in June and he has an eye for promoting economic development that works with new business and infrastructure renewal.

Atkins served as the Chair of Economic Development & Housing Committee and the Mobility Solutions, Infrastructure & Sustainability Committee and the Government Performance & Financial Management Committee. He was nominated by Mayor Michael S. Rawlings, to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Dallas Police & Fire Pension System.  He also served as the secretary of the Texas Association of Black City Council Members (TABCCM).  In 2014, he was nominated by Mayor Rawlings to serve as the Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Poverty Task Force. 

Giddings has had an impressive career and she has sat on a number of boards during her time in office. The Speaker of the House previously appointed her to the Texas Legislative Council Governing Board, the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families, and the Joint Interim Committee to Study Alzheimer’s Disease. She also in the past chaired the Business & Industry Committee for three terms as well as the Dallas Area Legislative Delegation, to name a few.
Rep. Giddings was the first woman of color and the first Texan to be elected to serve as President of the bi-partisan, 1600-member, National Foundation of Women Legislators. She also served on the Executive Committees of the Women’s Legislative Network of the National Conference of State Legislators and the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative (NOBEL) Women.