Texas Monthly Talks

Dallas Mayor
Tom Leppert

Tom Leppert


Interview


Notes from Evan Smith

"If not at the state level, certainly in our cities and towns we task the best and brightest with fixing every problem imaginable within moments of taking the job. In places where those problems seem insurmountable, the pressure does too. And when failure is a distinct possibility, the knives come out quickly. So it is that one might be moved to ask, why in the world would Tom Leppert want to be mayor of Dallas? The 53-year old Phoenix native, a graduate of Claremont McKenna College and Harvard Business School, had a successful career as in the corporate world, most recently as CEO of Turner Construction, the nation’s largest commercial builder, which earned more money in his seven-year tenure than in its previous 97 years combined. Except for a brief stint as one of Ronald Reagan’s White House Fellows, he had never set foot anywhere near politics. But when Laura Miller, the fiesty journalist turned pol, announced she wouldn’t run for a third term as Big D’s mayor, the community-minded Leppert, stepped up. With the backing of the big establishment brands like former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and former TXU chief Earle Nye and a drive to outraise and outspend a crowded field of rivals, Leppert place first in the May 2007 election and went on to beat a well-known and well-respected city councilman in the runoff to win control of the nation’s ninth-largest city. The challenges he has faced in the months since are nothing new: crime, crumbling infrastructure, what to do about the public schools, what to do about downtown, race, civic corruption. But he has approached them all with a spring in his step and a sunny affect that suggests there isn’t anything he and his constituents can’t do, any thorny issue they can’t confront, if they simply pull together. Let’s all hope he’s right." - Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, Broadcast 03.27.08