One of the benefits of opening up the DSN Newsroom at the Southside on Lamar is the number of interesting people who live, office, and work in and around this area. Last week we interviewed Texas House candidate Eric Johnson who has set up shop in the building, and this week we visit with Clay Jenkins, candidate for Dallas County Judge who also has his campaign headquarters in the Old Sears Building.
Jenkins is already making it tough on Democratic incumbent Jim Foster, who has lost favor with his fellow Democrats. Not only has Jenkins lined up the support of most of the county’s Democratic heavyweights, he reported over a quarter million dollars raised towards his campaign in July. Clay recently took a few moments from his busy schedule to visit with Dallas South News.
Dallas South News: Clay you’ve got a successful law firm and dental health services company, a wife and young daughter, why get mixed up in Dallas County politics?
Clay Jenkins: Thank you and you’re right, Shawn. I have a wonderful wife and daughter, and I have been blessed with success in business. I am extremely thankful for all these things. I have been an active Democrat working in every election cycle since 1974.
I have served and worked with the Texas Democratic Party as well as many Democratic elected officials including; the late Senator Oscar Mauzy, the late U.S. Senator Lloyd Benson & Congressman Martin Frost. I’ve had the privilege of working on a grass roots level as well as providing my services as an attorney to both the Texas Democratic Party and individual Democratic campaigns.
Most recently while serving as Texas Director of Voter Protection for the Obama Campaign, I was inspired by the example of President, my co-workers and many others that now is the time to break through the walls that divide us and work together in a more unified and effective way to move Dallas County forward.
DSN: Your steering committee includes Dallas County D.A. Craig Watkins and State Senator Royce West, as well as U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and St. Rep. Roberto Alonzo. How do you explain the overwhelming support your campaign has received versus your opponent, incumbent Jim Foster?
CJ: I’m incredibly humbled and pleased by the support I’ve received thus far. I have a proven track record of working hard with all sides to build consensus around the best ideas and move projects forward.
I worked closely with those leaders on the Obama campaign and other important causes. Those experiences gave them intimate, firsthand knowledge of my ability and strong work ethic. I am honored that they have the confidence in me to go on record early endorsing me as the most qualified candidate.
DSN: Why should citizens of Dallas County consider Clay Jenkins for county judge?
CJ: Shawn, I earnestly believe that I will do the best job moving this county forward. As a lawyer, I have successfully worked to ensure equal rights for all citizens, and as the owner of a health services company, I have worked hard to bring needed medical care to indigent Medicaid patients in nursing homes.
I will bring the same level of commitment and achievement to this job and will work tirelessly to bring Dallas County the results it deserves. Every Democratic elected official and progressive leaning organizations that has expressed a preference in this race has endorsed me.
This fact is strong evidence that I have the confidence of those I will need to work with to move this county forward. If fortunate enough to be elected, I’ll work hard every day to make Dallas County a better place for all of us.
DSN: What do you see as the major challenges facing Dallas County?
We face tremendous infrastructure, budgetary and environmental challenges here in Dallas County. We will meet and defeat those challenges by building a more unified Dallas County; one with better communication, more collaboration and mutual respect for the diversity, background, orientation and heritage of all of our people.
We must protect the security, opportunity and dignity of all people.
We must ensure every Dallas county resident has access to critical and essential services.
We must realistically tackle and balance our budget each year in these tough economic times.
We must build the new Parkland Hospital on time and on budget.
Our county jail system must be removed from federal oversight. We will achieve this by ensuring the human and civil rights of all people, including those incarcerated, are upheld. We must aggressively foster inter-local agreements and partnerships to provide economic development wherever and whenever possible. We must keep good jobs and effectively entice good employers to relocate to Dallas County from other areas.
DSN: What’s your take on the recent flap regarding towing by Dallas County constables and the idea of Dallas County having its own impound lot?
CJ: This is an example of a good new potential source of revenue to the county. We must identify more opportunities like this to generate revenue without increasing the tax burden.
We have two options: one is that we could purchase the land and create our own impound lot. The other is to contract with one or more providers to run impound lots, with a portion of the profit being returned to the taxpayers of Dallas County.
We need to look at both alternatives to determine what is in the taxpayer’s best interests. Not only is this a new source of revenue, but by having tighter controls and contracts, we can ensure that the system is more transparent.
DSN: For years we’ve heard -and continue to hear- about the need for economic development in Southern Dallas. Do you feel the county is helping to make that happen, and what actions are needed to bridge the gap between the city’s northern and southern halves?
CJ: Shawn, we need to increase economic development throughout Dallas County. You will be hard pressed to find anyone to say that we are where we need to be. However, we have some dedicated public servants who are working hard and I believe the time is now to greatly spur economic development in Southern Dallas County.
For example, as companies like Whirlpool look at potential sites for relocation we must continue to court them aggressively by letting them know about the tremendous and unique assets of Southern Dallas County. As more businesses realize the ready availability of land and our first class work force, as well as Southern Dallas
County’s prime location at the center point of America’s highway and rail systems, economic development will take off. We must market those advantages by insuring government is transparent and an active participant in finding innovative ways to work with private enterprise to bring and keep high paying jobs.
Additionally, I think the will is there to focus on this issue. People throughout Dallas County will benefit from an expanded tax base and an increase in economic opportunity.
For more information about Clay Jenkins campaign for Dallas County Judge, visit JenkinsforDallasCounty.com.