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Tuesday, September 29, 2020
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Government Water District race heats up

Water District race heats up

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

The race for two open seats on the Tarrant Regional Water District board continues to draw interest well beyond many previous TRWD campaigns.

At a forum sponsored by the Fort Worth Business Press and the League of Women Voters on Wednesday night, only three candidates showed up, but about 70 potential voters stayed to hear what

Candidates Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner, who have garnered support from Dallas businessman Monty Bennett, and Keith K. Annis attended the forum.

While incumbents Marty Leonard and Jim Lane were not there, several of their supporters showed up, many carrying signs and wearing T-shirts voicing their convictions

Consultant Annis said the water board needed to focus on one main subject: water.

Answering the question of why this race is important, Annis said: “This is important because it’s about water. Water matters. What’s at stake is the future. It’s really a pretty clear situation that we’re in.”

Engineer Bickley said he felt the water board had gotten away from its primary mission – water – and become involved in economic development.

“When they were doing what they were supposed to be doing, which is planning for our water future, then nobody really wanted a job [on the water board] that paid you $150 a month,” he said.

Health care professional Von Luckner said that when the board became too involved in economic development it began using more eminent domain and that led many citizens to be angry at the board.

“Now everybody does know about the board and because of their arrogance they have has awakened a lot of people and it needs to stop,” she said.

The campaign has become increasingly expensive – and heated. Campaign contributions in the race for two open seats on the Tarrant Regional Water District board have already reached high levels a month before the election that will determine the future direction of the district.

More than $500,000 was raised in the reporting period that ended April 9, a month ahead of the May 9 election. More campaign reports will be released later this week.

Campaign mailings have traded accusations between the two Bennett-supported candidates and the incumbents. Earlier this week, Lane took out a full-page advertisement saying Bennett had exhumed a veteran to a private cemetery on Bennett’s land in an attempt to halt a water district pipeline project though his property.

Bennett attended the Wednesday forum and spoke briefly to several people congregated after the forum.

Like the city, school board and Tarrant County College elections, early voting runs through May 5 for the May 9 election.


Video from the forum will be on the Business Press website soon. 

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