Would you like to start with a few words on why you’ve decided not to run for re-election?
I probably would not have run this last time if it hadn’t been for certain issues I knew were coming up, like the redistricting plan and completion of the convention center and some other things that were going on.
Seven years is a very long time in my book, and probably somebody else needs to step up.
Thinking back to when you first joined the council, did you know what you were getting yourself in for?
In some respects. There’s some education you go through – on some of your perceptions – that you find are much different in reality. I had a perception, from the standpoint of the African-American group of council members, that their political philosophies were probably much more in line with one another. The thing you learn is, that whether you’re African-American or Hispanic or whatever, the opinions are going to be just as diversified as Anglo opinions. That’s something you don’t have a real good handle on when you first run.
On the plus side, what you really find out for the most part is that the people on the council are good people who want to do the best thing for the city and their constituents.
But on the plus and negative, there’s a lot of agendas going on, and it takes you a while to understand why a particular member may feel they’re going to be on one side of a position or an issue.
What were your goals as a council member, and do you feel you’ve accomplished them?
We made progress on a lot of issues. But there was also a disappointment on my part. I was coming from the standpoint of unreal expectations with the concentration of multi-family units [in Lake Highlands] and a lack of ability to make a substantial change in that. It’s a very slow process to try to make a substantial change in the makeup of the neighborhood from multi-family to family.
On the plus side, we have made some inroads with some different apartment communities through the city attorney’s office, which has taken two or three apartment complexes to court that have been bad neighbors. And we’ve tried to improve on what they were doing to those neighborhoods they were in.
And then there’s retail revitalization. And the reality is that an awful lot of retail is older-generation retail, and that makes it very difficult to try to talk some of the newer retailers into the area. In some ways, we just don’t have the product they want. But we’ve made some inroads there as well. There’s the shopping center at Ferndale and Northwest Highway. There’s the Lowe’s at Northwest and Jupiter. There’s the Kroger. There have all been some plusses.
Are there any votes you made in your tenure that you now regret?
There were no major votes that people would recognize today that I would vote differently on. There are one or two issues, however, that, had I known what I know today, I would have tried to have some additional provision made to things, and I would have held my vote out to make sure those initiatives were included.
For instance, with the Reunion Arena issue, and those teams giving us Reunion back, I was under the firm understanding that there was a deal that the teams would in fact keep Reunion going through that first five-year period. There’s no way to go back and enforce that now, but we probably would have had an opportunity to force the issue had there been some language and teeth in that agreement [to begin with].
If you’ve left a legacy as a council representative for Lake Highlands, what do you think it is?
I think it’s my dedication to the Lake Highlands community, first and foremost. The redistricting effort, and working with Dean Vanderbilt on the redistricting commission, is one of the things I struck around for. And Dean did a great job. Ninety-five percent of our district attends LHHS, and that’s a very unique situation from the standpoint of the city of Dallas or any other city. No other council district has that kind of intense, cohesive neighborhood spirit. That’s the single largest thing I would say is left for somebody to carry on with.
Is Dallas headed in the right direction?
I think very much the city is in better shape today than it was seven years ago, and I’m not trying to blow my horn. I mean, people still say: Yeah, but what about the potholes? But think where we were seven years ago. When you look at downtown, there’s been an incredible amount of activity in the number of housing units built. If we had looked at downtown eight years ago and said, ‘This is what we’ll be able to do,’ we would have all signed a blank check for it.
What’s in the future for Alan Walne? Any more bids for political office?
I’m not going to say that I have no interest in ever running for anything again. I really and truly believe that God puts you in particular moments that you are meant to be in. There are gifts you’re given in life that fit a particular thing, and you’re supposed to step to the plate and give back. That’s what I did in this case. Whether or not those types of circumstances will occur again is out there, but I’m not seeking anything at this point.
Any parting words for your constituents?
I absolutely mean this…Lake Highlands is probably the finest community to live in the entire Metroplex area. I’ve had the opportunity to serve on a lot of different boards around the Metroplex, and I’ve seen different communities, and the spirit that we have in Lake Highlands is something that companies seek after.
We need to remind ourselves as we continue to look at areas of improvement that we’re improving on something that an awful lot of people would like to already be at. We need to remind ourselves not to be quite as hard on ourselves as we are sometimes, but to continue to be involved and stay involved. That’s what does make a difference in our community.
I’m really thankful that I’ve been given the opportunity to kind of be the point guy for the community. You can’t make all the people happy all the time, but I’ve enjoyed the experience, and I’m not going anywhere. We’ll be in the area, and I’ll put in my two cents’ worth whether people ask for it or not.