Food Insecurity a Key Concern in Dallas Council District 7 Campaign

Adam Bazaldua, an incumbent City Council member for Dallas’ District 7, is seeking a third term in office against three other contenders: Tracy Dotie Hill, a realtor and longtime district resident, Okema Thomas, a former Dallas Independent School District employee and South Dallas resident, and Marvin E. Crenshaw, a local activist.

Hill and Thomas have identified food insecurity as an important challenge for the area they would like to confront if elected. They also believe the district lacks fundamental resources that must be addressed under their leadership. Crenshaw, who has run for the City Council 12 times, did not respond to a request for comment.

In contrast, Bazaldua claims to have accomplished much for the district, with the constant focus on food insecurity. He argues that his opponents’ criticisms of him are insincere. District 7 covers Far East Dallas, Pleasant Grove, east Oak Cliff, Fair Park, South Dallas, Rochester Park, and Buckner Terrace. Groceries have been a challenge, and food deserts still exist in the region.

Thomas blames Bazaldua for failing to get big box grocery stores in the district. However, Bazaldua said he has made progress on food access in some parts of the district and has plans to do more. He cited the co-op grocery store opened in South Dallas by Cornerstone Baptist Church and an upcoming Far East Dallas El Rio Grande Latin Market that will open in June. Bazaldua, a chef and educator with the Dallas Independent School District in the past, is passionate about addressing food insecurity in the district.

Despite the $3 million in funding allocated by the council to attract grocery stores to the district, chain grocers have largely avoided South and Southeast Dallas. “That’s definitely a challenge that remains,” Bazaldua said. “I have personally brought representatives from most of the big box grocery stores into my office.” But even with millions set aside for the effort, the big grocers have not gone for it.

According to Hill, ensuring food security for the district is a top priority. If she replaces Bazaldua, she also intends to reduce crime, increase affordable housing, and raise business activity in the area. She also advocates for more property tax exemptions for seniors and veterans with fixed incomes and vouchers for low-income renters to help them cope with rising prices.

Thomas believes that the district lacks the resources it needs. “I will provide my community with the resources they need,” he said. “When you look at all the other areas in Dallas, they have the amenities and essential tools they need to have good-quality meat, good-quality vegetables, and produce. In our community, we have to go outside the community to get the resources we require.” He also said the district needs more employment opportunities, community centers for residents, and afterschool programs for students.

While Bazaldua understands the challenges before him, he has also made significant progress in his tenure. His achievements include the home repair initiative for Joppa homes to prevent legacy residents’ displacement. He is proud of the City Council’s approval of the Racial Equity Plan for Dallas, the continued expansion of the RIGHT Care Program, a team of mental health professionals that respond to mental health emergencies, and creating more green space across the city.

When examined, Bazaldua’s challengers’ criticisms seem to have no standing. Though they complain about the lack of grocery stores in the region, they overlook the two that Bazaldua spearheaded. As such, he continues to work hard for the district, even as he seeks re-election.

The Dallas City Council election is on Saturday, and the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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