‘I Want To Get Back To Basics’: Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson Begins 2nd Half Of 1st Term

Mayor Johnson said he wants to improve the 911 call center, where there are 26 vacant positions and where it’s taking more than twice as long as this time last year to have a 911 call answered.

Video Transcript

- Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson says he wants city leaders to focus on reducing violent crime and improving trash pickup and the permitting process for construction projects. Four new members will join the city council starting on Monday. Today, political reporter Jack Fink spoke with the mayor about his priorities.

ERIC JOHNSON: I want to get back to basics, Jack.

JACK FINK: As Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson begins the second half of his first term in office, he says he's looking forward to speaking with new council members Jesse Moreno, Jaynie Schultz, Gay Willis, and Paul Ridley.

ERIC JOHNSON: I had a chance to exchange some texts. We're going to get together in person here soon to talk about priorities.

[PHONE DIALING]

JACK FINK: Mayor Johnson says he wants to approve the 9-1-1 call center, where there are 26 vacant positions and where it's taking more than twice as long as this time last year to have a 9-1-1 call answered, now an average of 13 seconds. The mayor also wants to reduce murders and assaults.

ERIC JOHNSON: I hope in this upcoming budget, hope this new council understands why it's so important to prioritize public safety.

JACK FINK: Another problem the city has faced is the permitting process for construction projects. A new electronic system that began before the pandemic caused a backlog of more than 460 applications during the prescreening process last year. And to get through that and the first planned review extended to 15 weeks. That has now been reduced two to three weeks. For commercial projects, it still takes about four to six weeks to get through the initial plan review.

ERIC JOHNSON: And this is a big deal. Making sure that we can actually permit new development and the types of things that grow our tax base, which will help us relieve the tax burden on our residents is of critical importance.

JACK FINK: And when it comes to brush and bulky trash pickup, the city says spikes in volume have delayed collection.

ERIC JOHNSON: The bulky trash has been sitting out on their curbs in some neighborhoods for weeks.

JACK FINK: With 14 council members and the mayor, it is often said the magic number around the horseshoe at City Hall is eight votes. But when it comes to the big picture items, Mayor Johnson says he's hoping for more than just a simple majority.

ERIC JOHNSON: No, we need 15-0 votes if we can on the priorities. I just laid out.

JACK FINK: In Dallas, Jack Fink, CBS 11 News.