Historic Old Courthouse in downtown Dallas.

Candidates for two contested Dallas City Council seats in November say ongoing projects coming to fruition, more government transparency, and improving the city’s quality of life and historic downtown are among their priorities.

Veteran Councilman James Kelly will face a challenge in the general election from political newcomer Brian Hardin for one of two at-large seats on the six-member city council.

Councilwoman Leah Alls will face Ryan Ayers in a special election for the council’s Ward 3 seat to which the council appointed Alls earlier this year.

The other council seats up for election this year are filled by incumbents Michael Cason of Ward 2 and Jim Henson of Ward 4, both of whom are unopposed for re-election.

The Dallas city election polling place will be the Watson Government Complex at 240 Constitution Blvd. in Dallas Nov. 5 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to a city notice.

Early voting will begin Oct. 14. Deadline to register to vote in the election is Monday, Oct. 7.

COUNCIL AT-LARGEBRIAN HARDIN: Brian Hardin said he believed “the residents of Dallas deserve to have their voices heard” on issues.

“It is of the utmost importance that we strive to grow with new fresh ideas and dedication from our leaders,” he said.

Hardin, who is seeking one of two at-large seats that represent the entire city, said he was running for a council seat because the “feedback that we have received has been very negative in regards to the current administration” — an apparent reference to Mayor Boyd Austin.

However, Hardin said, “First and foremost, I am not running ‘against’ anyone.”

“I am simply running ‘for’ the people of this city,” he said.

He said the city’s leadership also has not been as “transparent” as it should be.

“I aim to change that. I will remain steadfast in our approach to obtain fresh ideas and will work to support the mayor as long as it is consistent with the belief that our city can be much greater,” he said.

However, he did not specify if he was referring to lack of transparency on a specific issue or in general.

Hardin said he will “actively” seek residents’ input “to help assess the best possible path for our city to reach its full potential.”

The nine-year Dallas resident said he has spent his entire career in the transportation industry.

He said he and his family moved to Dallas in 2010 after he opened a commercial fleet maintenance and repair business. He now consults for the company after he sold it, he said.

JAMES KELLY: Incumbent James Kelly, who is seeking his fifth term as a Dallas councilman, said he has seen “a lot of changes for the good” since his election in 2003.

He said work to refurbish the downtown area and doubling the capacity of its wastewater treatment plant were among the projects the council has overseen since he was elected.

“I want to continue to be part of it,” he said.

The city council did not have to approve any employee cutbacks or furloughs as other cities did during the Great Recession, which began around 2007, because of the council’s fiscal management, he said.

“We were able to weather the storm,” he said.

Kelly said some critics were wrong in saying the city was not “business-friendly.”

The city government is doing all it can to recruit new businesses but wants them to follow required building codes and zoning laws, he said.

The city also has no control over what state law requires of new businesses — a reference to the problems owners of a downtown Dallas brewpub encountered as they have worked for about three years to meet state fire code requirements in a Main Street space.

Kelly is the owner of a Dallas landscaping company.


LEAH ALLS: Ward 3 Councilwoman Leah Alls was appointed by Dallas City Council members June 3 to the Ward 3 seat representing northeastern Dallas.

The seat had been vacant for five months before Alls’ appointment following the Jan. 2 resignation of Griffin White.

Alls said, “There are so many things happening with our city right now that impact our quality of life.

“I will work to ensure that Dallas citizens are kept informed and up to date on all those things and how it will affect them,” she said.

“I will certainly continue to be open and available to talk with people and provide open and honest representation.”

Alls works for LGE Insurance Services in Marietta and is a lifelong Paulding resident.

She also served on the Paulding County Planning and Zoning Commission from 1993 to 2004.

RYAN AYERS: Challenger Ryan Ayers said he and his family moved to the city seven years ago “and we fell in love with it.”

“Living here and doing life every day, I see how beautiful our city is and how much potential is still out there not being taken advantage of,” Ayers said.

“That is why I decided to run for city council for Ward 3,” he said.

“We need restaurants and a nightlife in the downtown district.”

Ayers is a member of the Dallas Planning Commission.

He is a lifelong Paulding County resident and a 1996 graduate of Paulding County High School.

Ayers has worked full time doing automotive collision repair for the past 24 years, including 13 for his current employer, he said.

He also is the interim music minister at First Baptist Church Mableton and is working on an undergraduate degree in Christian ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


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