Leah Alls said she is happy about the pace of downtown Dallas' development and wants to “see the city grow” as the newest member of the Dallas City Council.
“I’m open to learn all I can about how the city works and all the new things going on in Dallas,” she said.
“I want to listen to the people of my ward and I’m going to do what I think is best for the city of Dallas and for Paulding County in general,” she said.
Council members voted unanimously June 3 to appoint Alls to the vacant Ward 3 seat representing northeastern Dallas.
She fills a seat that had been vacant for five months since the Jan. 2 resignation of Griffin White, who had served on the council since 2005.
Alls, who works for LGE Insurance Services in Marietta, is a lifelong Paulding resident.
She served on the Paulding County Planning and Zoning Commission from 1993 to 2004 during a time of rapid residential growth in the county.
“I’ve always been very involved in the county and saw this as a great opportunity to continue working to do better for all of our citizens,” she said.
Alls said she planned to qualify and seek election in the city’s Nov. 3 special election for the Ward 3 seat.
She said she learned about public service from her father, who is former county commissioner Wayne Kirby
“I guess I got my passion for wanting to help the people of the county from him because he’s always been so passionate about it,” she said.
She said she decided to seek the appointment after hearing that White planned to “retire and that position was going to be open.”
Alls then “reached out to a couple of the council members to see how that process worked” for seeking an appointment to the vacant seat.
However, the city charter does not specify how a council vacancy is to be filled, other than requiring the council to select a person who has been a city resident for one year before the qualifying date.
She later met with Mayor Boyd Austin and told him she was interested in the position, which led to the council’s unanimous June 3 vote to appoint her, Alls said.
She then was sworn in to the council seat at the same meeting, she said.
The new council member said she wanted to help the mayor and other council members “keep improving” Dallas.
“I love the way downtown Dallas looks,” she said.
“I love what’s been done so far. It’s gorgeous. We … walk around and see what our mayor and city council has done so far to improve the city.”
The county government moved from downtown to a new facility in western Dallas in 2008, which decreased the number of people doing business in the area.
However, a redevelopment of historic Dallas Theater and new cityscape construction were among the changes designed to help revitalize the Main Street area in the past two decades.
Alls said she was happy about the new East Bound and Grounds coffee shop opening recently, and the long-awaited opening of Johnnie McCracken’s which has been under development for more than three years.
McCracken’s is to be a Dallas location of a longtime Marietta brew pub and restaurant. City leaders have faced criticism for its slow development.
Alls agreed some may want action to spur more rapid development of the historic downtown area — while others may believe it is developing too quickly.
“I know that a lot of people don’t always know what goes on behind the scenes,” she said.
“Sometimes when you think it’s going too slow or you think it’s going too fast, you don’t really know everything that goes into getting it to the point that you’re wanting it to be.
“I realize that there are steps that have to be followed, processes that have to be followed, laws that have to be abided by,” she said.
“I know that our current leadership loves our city and has the best interest in mind for the city,” Alls said. “I don’t have any problems with how fast or slow anything’s going.
“I realize there are two sides to every story, no matter how hard you try. You can’t please everyone.
“I will always listen to every side and take everything into account and do exactly what I think is best for the city and county.”
The special election for Alls’ seat and the regularly scheduled election for three other council seats and the mayor’s seat are set for Nov. 5.
The seats are held by Mayor Boyd Austin and council members James Kelly, Michael Cason and Jim Henson.
Candidates will qualify Aug. 19 to 21 at Dallas City Hall. The polling place will be the Dallas City Council chambers at 129 E. Memorial Drive in Dallas.
Deadline to register to vote in the election is Oct. 7.