By Jessica Huseman of Politically Inclined
The newest challenger to John Wiley Price is Micah Phillips, pastor of Holy Communion Baptist Church in Oak Cliff. And though Price has long drawn support from the black churches in South Dallas, Philips believes his status as a fourth generation South Dallas pastor gives him an edge.
“My family had concerns about me running against him,” Phillips said. “But at the same time they know [the churches] will be a stronghold for me, because instantly that will give me a plug in to the old regime of Dallas.”
The “old regime” churches in Dallas have held rallies and fundraisers in favor of Price – most notably the Friendship West Baptist Church and St. Luke United Methodist Church – but Phillips said he thinks this fervor may be fading.
“It’s already been said that Price has called some pastor’s handkerchief heads. They are still upset about that, and I’m able to say that I will never ever call them that,” Phillips said. “I am coming at this from a protagonistic angle instead of an antagonistic one.”
That positive tone will permeate his campaign, said Phillips, who plans on only using the facts to back up his statement instead of drawing dirt into the mix. Something he says will raise him above Price and perhaps even Betty Culbreath, who filed earlier this month and is known for fiery language of her own.
He also said he has a leg up on Sylvia Rhodes Bradley, who is officially announcing her candidacy tonight, because he chose to run as a democrat instead of an independent.
“Historically independents can’t win in this belt,” he said. “I originally planned on running as an indpendent, but as we looked at the demographics we decided against it.”
But though he has decided to run as a democrat, he thinks he can appeal to those of all parties and said his record on bringing diversity into his projects speak to his ability to “bring people together who usually don’t come together.”
His campaign is being run by Cedric Lyons of The Lyons Group, who has previously assisted with Edward Okpa’s unsuccessful run for Dallas Mayor, and was the IT director for Former Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill’s campaign in 2007 and for Carolyn Davis’ 2007 bid for City Council. The campaign plans to start at the “grassroots level” by walking door to door and getting students involved in a “get your soul to the poll” effort.
Phillips said he will be making a concerted effort to reach the older generation of South Dallas – who tend to be pro Price – but thinks it is important to reach “both ends of the spectrum.” So, they will be embarking on campaigns to get 18 year olds at high schools registered to vote, and will be reaching out to community colleges and political science departments to find students interested in becoming involved.
Though the “Our Man Downtown” motto has stuck with Price, Phillips said he feels like it’s fading.
“My question is whose man downtown? Most people you talk to say he does not represent their views,” he said.
Phillips said Price’s “antagonistic” attitude has left businesses soured from doing business in the county, and has ultimately hurt South Dallas’ prospects for development.
“People do not feel comfortable doing business in South Dallas right now,” Phillips said. “Many feel like we don’t want anything in the southern half of Dallas.”
Phillips’ plan to increase development in South Dallas would be to build the infrastructure necessary to cultivate successful businesses. Roads and effective sewer and water lines are all things South Dallas needs, and things Phillips said would encourage businesses to take a chance and move to South Dallas.
He hope building the necessary infrastructure will lead to “sustainable communities” where people can live, work and play, and used the example Diamonds of Dallas’ ongoing project in the Cedar Crest Corridor. Phillips, who serves as president and CEO of the non-profit Diamonds of Dallas, said more projects like this one will enhance the economic development of the area, and can only be done with a workable County Court.
Like many of the candidates in this race, Phillips has worked an acronym into his campaign – though it has nothing to do with his name. He’s campaigning with the slogan “FRESH,” which stands for future focus, revitalization, equality, solidarity and humility.