Meet Jacob King, the 18-Year Old City Council Candidate Who Wants to Shake Up Dallas

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In the race to replace Ann Margolin as District 13's representative on the City Council, Jennifer Gates has Staubach as a maiden name and the backing of the establishment; Leland Burke, a real estate investor, has the business experience that plays well in the district's Preston Hollow core; and Jacob King ... well, he's got the youthful optimism and a sizable set of political cojones.

"When elected," King says, dispensing with the conditional "if" of my question, "I would defer my full-time enrollment plans, and I would get some of my basics done in Dallas."

He's referring to enrollment in college, probably Texas A&M, where -- let's be honest -- the 18-year-old will likely wind up this fall after he graduates from Bishop Lynch. He plans to major in political science, then go on to law school. But he's willing to delay those plans for a time if voters send him to City Hall, where he plans to fundamentally change the way the city does business.

"Government is broken," his campaign slogan reads. "Let's fix it."

Specifically, he says, government is "mortgaging the future of young Americans" like himself. While prodigal spending is most egregious at the federal level, local governments, too, are on a credit binge.

"Dallas has a debt-per-resident level that is equal to Houston's, and Houston has a population twice our size," he says. "At the local level, we're living a little bit beyond our means."

Actually, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs calculates that the city of Dallas had $6.6 billion in outstanding debt as of 2011. The $642 million bond package that passed in November has added to that, but the city still doesn't come close to Houston's $13.2 billion.

Still, King stands by the general idea that government is spending too much. He takes particular issue with using city incentives to spur investment in underdeveloped areas along the Trinity River and elsewhere. They're "robbing from Peter to pay Paul," he says, since city involvement interferes with competition and steers development dollars away from property owners who might otherwise benefit.

He's not a fan of the Margaret McDermott Bridge, which he says "looks nice but I can have a nice looking bridge or I can have an ugly bridge. Either way it's a bridge." Nor is he fond of similarly glitzy baubles of the Trinity River Project, though he doesn't take particular issue with the toll road, so long as the tolls sunset once it's paid for. That's a big sticking point with him.

"We've been told several times that the tolls will go away when the road is paid for," he says, referring to toll roads in general. "I also think we've been lied to several times. I understand that it's a great selling point to say it's a public-private deal, but if it's going to be a toll road there has to be a point at which the toll goes away."

None of that means that city government doesn't have a role to play. He wants the city to resurface or rebuild the 240 lane miles of road in District 13 that need it -- not through debt or higher taxes, of course, but by shifting priorities -- and focus on improving public safety in Five Points and other high-crime areas.

He's agnostic on the performance of City Manager Mary Suhm. "Everything I've heard speaking to people and with people is that she's been a very dedicated public servant," he says. And he isn't opposed to gas drilling on city parkland, so long as any royalties the city gets are used to lower residents' taxes.

Despite his public show of confidence, King is realistic about his chances. Unlike young Demarcus Offard, the most recent example of a precociously young politician trying to break into local government, he doesn't have a groundswell of anti-incumbent rage propelling him into halfway serious contention.

But he's serious about giving it a shot -- he's started taking orders for T-shirts and is about to get yard signs -- and asks only to be taken seriously.

"I'm not an ignorant 18-year-old kid who loves doing this just because he likes getting his name in the papers," he says. "I've taken classes at Cambridge. I've spoken on the House floor."

Smart and driven kid. He's definitely going places, just not likely to 1500 Marilla.

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13 comments
director21
director21

If this kid thinks the City of Dallas is going to get any revenue from natural gas production in our city parks, then he is a lot more ignorant that he thinks himself to be! But wait! Didn't he say that he would probably be an Aggie? That explains quite a lot!

And Eric, correct me if I am wrong here, but my calculator says the kid's math is better than yours.

"Dallas has a debt-per-resident level that is equal to Houston's, and Houston has a population twice our size," he says. "At the local level, we're living a little bit beyond our means."

Actually, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs calculates that the city of Dallas had $6.6 billion in outstanding debt as of 2011. The $642 million bond package that passed in November has added to that, but the city still doesn't come close to Houston's $13.2 billion.

Okay, so $6.6 Billion is exactly one half of $13.2 Billion. Add in the other $642 Million in Dallas and the total Dallas debt comes to $7.242 Billion, which is more than half of Houston's debt. If Houston has twice the population of Dallas, the Dallas citizens actually have a higher debt-to-citizen ratio than Houston.

Lastly, the issue with the Trinity Toll Road is not when it will pay for itself, or whether it will cease to be a toll road after paying for itself (which it would NEVER be able to do.) The issue is the sanity of building a toll road between the flood control levees of a river that frequently floods resulting in perpetual damage to the toll road and expensive repairs that will be borne by taxpaying citizens to keep that monstrosity functional.

Anybody who does not grasp that fact is too "ignorant" to serve on the Dallas City Council. We already have enough ignorance on that Council without adding any more to it.


CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

Doesn't sound too sharp to me.  Especially with his (and the writer's) lack of logic on per capita debt.  All of his other points were simple and cliche.  

randy
randy

He is pretty young and kinda goony, but I'm voting for him. Gates and Burke are the same ol' same ol' and I'd like something different, please.


ChrisDangerShow
ChrisDangerShow

Also, this kid needs to grow into his ears, did ya see those things??

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I am all for youthful idealism but this kid's math skills need serious improvement. If Dallas and Houston both have the same levels of debt per capita, how does that make Dallas more in debt than Houston?

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

well I don't know of any kid that cares about 'getting his name in the papers' much less know what that means! He does have some great ideas and observations, good luck Jacob.

teenaB
teenaB

@CornyDoggy Agreed on both points. Sounds like he found the book "All the Vague Bullshit Politicians Say" and just repeated.

 Dallas debt per capita (that means per person, Eric) is 5918 and Houston is 6153. 


cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

@CornyDoggy Yeah what?

"Dallas has a debt-per-resident level that is equal to Houston's, and Houston has a population twice our size," he says. "At the local level, we're living a little bit beyond our means."

Actually, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs calculates that the city of Dallas had $6.6 billion in outstanding debt as of 2011. The $642 million bond package that passed in November has added to that, but the city still doesn't come close to Houston's $13.2 billion.


At least the 18 year old has the excuse of being 18. Eric Libtard Nicholson however, has no excuse for not understanding such a basic ratio(and the fact that he just restated what the kid said)


Eric must be forgetting to simplify the simplification of the sprawling of the sprawl man..

hix.miblue.john
hix.miblue.john

@randy Young and goony dont deserve a vote. This kid does not have the experience or the education or the maturity. Adolescence is now reported to extend to age 25/26 and that just gives more reason not to trust this kid. I would just as soon have a Republican in office.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

@heart_and_soul wasn't going to say anything about the ears or the tie, but I suppose he should get used to it if he's going to enter the public forum...especially in this town.

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