Monty Bennett: Why I’m backing water board candidates

Early in my career, I had the honor of serving as the general manager of the Hampton Inn out on Cherry Lane. I loved it. I loved living in the Fort Worth area and being part of the community. Too soon, however, my career called me to Dallas. I’ve lived there ever since, but I’ve always had a fondness for those early days and my time in the Fort Worth area.

I liked Fort Worth so much because the people always had such a strong sense of decency and fairness. Likewise, it’s always been important to me to be treated fairly and even more important for me to treat others fairly as well. I hope when I’m done here on earth that I will have left such a legacy.

Much has been written and said about the upcoming Tarrant Regional Water District election. I decided to support a couple of the challengers, two really great people – Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner. I hope you get a chance to meet them. They’re really what Fort Worth is all about – kindness, thoughtfulness, and fairness. I decided to support them because of my dreadful experience with the incumbent board at the TRWD. It’s sad really. At every turn they’ve tried to bully me and my mother. Bully us into forcing their pipeline across my mother’s land. Bully me into succumbing to their lawsuits. Bully me by placing nasty ads about me in the paper. I’ve since learned that I’m just the tip of the iceberg and that I’ve suffered very little at their hands compared to so many others. I’ve learned about scores of other people who have been pushed around by the TRWD. So I did what our system set us all up to do – try and make a difference by getting behind these reform candidates.

I really do not like most politicians. I don’t know what it is with them. What happens to a person after they’ve been in office for awhile? They seem to forget that they’re there to serve the people, and not themselves and their friends. So it seems like it’s time for a change at the TRWD. Some of the incumbents have served for decades. That’s just too long. A new set of leadership is needed.

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I saw where the incumbents ran an ad accusing me of digging deceased people up and moving them to my family’s cemetery at my ranch. This is so silly that I’m not sure how to respond. Where do they come up with this stuff? Why are they talking about me so much instead of focusing on their own records? The election is not about me, it’s about whether or not the incumbents have done a good job serving those who are affected by the TRWD. Clearly, they have not. It’s time for a change.

And no, despite what their strange allegations assert, I’m not ‘stealing anyone’s water’ or anything else by virtue of my support for the challengers. My motives are the same as yours – I want a government agency that’s transparent, shows good stewardship, is fair, and puts the needs of the citizens above their own needs. I’ve already stopped the TRWD from putting a pipeline across my mother’s land, thank goodness. Now it’s time for many more changes for fairness and decency that can only be accomplished through an election. Please vote for change on May 9. Vote for Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner.

Monty J. Bennett is founder, chairman and CEO of Ashford Hospitality Trust, which owns the Hilton and Ashton hotels in downtown Fort Worth.