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Mattie Parker (Mayor of Fort Worth) RMH: 31

Mattie Parker 

Mayor of Fort Worth

Mattie Parker joins the podcast in a bonus episode this week! She joins the guys to talk about her first year as Fort Worth’s Mayor. The talk about wins and challenges she’s faced in this new position and how she is working to strike a healthy work-life balance. You don’t want to miss this.

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Episode Transcription: 



FORTituders, welcome back. Thank you for tuning in once again my esteemed and troubled partner Brinton Payne is back in studio fresh off his COVID-19 quarantine to continue his insightful grumblings. Welcome back buddy. We’re glad you’re okay.



Thanks for not full time replacing me with Brian. That was real nice. And you know one quick thing on the comments about the paleness that I succumb to during the COVID I’m sorry, I didn’t have like a bronzing agent that before you came over for that I noticed there were some remarks on the last show. Let me just say You look fantastic.



We’re glad you’re back. Yeah, please tell us quickly about your experience behind the clothes. Oh, it



was actually it was a lot heavier than I thought. So I mean, I had some breathing problems, that kind of wood from old school, it kind of changed and then like the quarantine thing, I mean, that stuff. Yeah, I mean, you don’t you don’t want this you don’t want this deal. And I was vaccinated, you know, and you had the j&j correct? Yes. And there was recalled the next day so I think it’s probably because I got it. That was a big issue. My wife’s smell taste the traditional symptoms for a couple days and then and then got it back. Yeah, I ate actually. babes fried chicken. Oh, good. No taste, or smell which it was calories then. Right? Sure. Yeah. No, it was just but it was delicious. I didn’t



say You look like you lost weight. So you do look good, though. And that voice you hear in the background? You hear that lady talking? Yeah, we are lucky to have the mayor Mattie Parker in house.



Because I was around her on the time of



like, we’re already positive at that point. And we definitely made you stand out.



Starting this rumor now,



to quell that before we begin, but before we get to you, Mattie, we have a couple things to talk about, which involve you as well. But this week in Fort Worth is a very special week because it’s TCU SMU week. Last year it was postponed because of the pandemic stuff. But annually when these two teams play, there’s a big to do in this Metroplex. You and Mayor Eric Johnson from Dallas have gone to Twitter to enact some some bets of sorts. These are very exciting for us. I think the trash talk erupted on Twitter with the promise of some pie. Mayor Johnson was promoting the Dallas based Humble Pie company and then you try and back with Esperanza is the Jyoti panaderia I’m probably saying that



right in the face Mayor or how does that work?



Well let’s just think about that if he’s sending pi over then I could go over and throw it in his face I kind of like we keep



in the face over like a Mexican dish just probably linger longer you know the



way somebody is gonna get something delicious to eat I assume that will be consumed at city council or something as well as the loser will were put on the jersey of the winning team so as you told us prior to the show you already have a jersey fitting coming for Eric down the road ready for that so that’ll be a very it’s always very exciting and keeps people engaged because that little Twitter fight is is very good good watch right it’s good to see so thank you for doing that and you know Eric from a previous life so we actually play each other in high school I think very highly of the man he’s done a great job. We play each other highschool like I said, and we’ve stayed kind of in contact over the years but obviously it’s really neat that you guys are contemporaries and opposite sides of the spectrum so but it’s a really cool connection there so I know you get along fine. So before we get to you Mayor, we wanted to you know, pimp ourselves a little bit but check us out on rock so media that’s where our where our show lies these days, as well as fortitude Fw their Twitter account and additionally on the fourth Inc website where we now reside. So if you have more interest in roxo, media house or the fortitude podcast, please check us out. So with that being said, Mayor, we’re ready to get into your third our first third visit person on the show so thank you for being here. Thank you.



person if we’ve got you on three times



i know i guess i got I’m now I’m kind of nervous because I can’t I don’t do well. You won’t invite me back or is it just I’m getting to the quota. Whatever you always be



welcome. That’s right. There’s always a place for you. Okay, good. We’ll begin with this difficult question. How has your life changed in the last



very serious question Brinton. I just by the way, I just wrote you have a lava lamp. So now I’m



beginning to warm up something’s dysfunctional with it. But



it’s, it’s totally changed, right? And a lot of ways and then others none at all. So it’s also I won’t lie. It’s not easy at all. And so we’ve got three, three kids, two boys in the house. Lots of sports were oversubscribed right now. So trying to navigate that and book in the days where I need to be which is at home, and with them, which is actually at home right now. It’s on a baseball field or a soccer field. Yeah, but we also just passed our budget on Tuesday, which was a big success for us as a new council to work together. I think you can be proud of not only the budget and what’s in it, but also the way we conducted the work to get us to this place, which is I think, most important, and just trying to get a rhythm, honestly. And the other thing I would say is I don’t want to chase squirrels. Right? I want to focus on the business of the city, working with city management, and also some big initiatives. So everything I say yes to, I’ve said no to something else. So I’m not perfect at that yet. And the staffs been awesome, and kind of helping me navigate that a little bit. Yeah, because people are starting to ramp back up with all their events. And I would love to be at all of them. But it is amazing how many requests we get. And I lived it right. When I worked for



Pepsi, I knew that on a daily basis, on average, would you say,



I think you could probably say at least 25 come in



per day, at least how many would Are you able to take care of a day just



depends on when they are, you know, if they’re if they’re in the work day, we try. We’re getting there lots of even for small meetings, welcome remarks, keynote speeches think I’ve given 10 speeches this week.



Well, and this is the first time we’ve had a younger counsel with presumably not grand children age, but more like direct family, young guys and gals at home. So talk about because that came up last week, too, when you guys were going through the budget on just some of what you all are talking about, and discussing on changing the schedule a little bit, you know, to make it more amenable for families and those with them. So people serve, you know, who have here we



had visitation on Tuesday to talk about a proposed new schedule that will vote on that one of the upcoming new meetings. And we’ve got consensus from counsel that it’s the right direction to go. I’ve been frustrated for years at the efficiency of how we conduct meetings. We’re one of the only big cities in the country, maybe the only that has these late 7pm start times. We have stacked work sessions on the same day as counsel, most of our council meetings since I started, you sit down in a chair, maybe at one four committee hearings, and you don’t go home until after nine or 10. It’s not productive. And I’m really candid. If I can do the city’s business and do a great job and I am and still be home for dinner and bed. That’s where I should be. Yeah, there is no reason to be up there that



late. So how do you change that time isn’t more than four or five o’clock, what we’re gonna do



is split that work sessions on Council. So alternating Tuesdays one Tuesday might be the work session, we’ll start around noon, work through lunch to executive session, open work session, longer time periods for policy discussions, take a break and then do a public comment period starting at 6pm. That’s just focus on public comments go home, the next Tuesday would be a council meeting. And those council meetings that are the business of the city to be passed would either be at 530 in the evening, usually focus on zoning docket or at 10am. So we’ll keep attending a meeting. And we’ll still have a full schedule right and plenty of opportunity for public comment interaction. But I think the efficiency of those meetings will be better. And what’s even better I didn’t think about this I should have is how happy city staff are and department heads. Mm hmm. Because it’s a it’s saves taxpayer dollars are up there for comp time all those hours in the evening, waiting for one agenda item. Yeah. And now most of their business can be conducted during the work day. Yeah. Well,



on that huge zoning docket. How late were you guys there last week or two weeks



ago? got out of there just before 11? Yeah,



I mean, and that’s a that’s a starting at 7:38am day, right? Because you’re going through all of that. So



so I’m encouraged by it. And I, I was pretty public about this this week on another discussion with fourth report that I’m not going to do this forever. My fellow council members are not going to do this forever. But we want to be able to look somebody in the eye and say, JW you can absolutely do this job and have a family. I don’t want to leave office.



She just said I could though.



Her Can you tell me Can we have it? Oh, kind.



It’s on record now. So thank you. You’re welcome.



It’s on record. So my point is, I feel like I’ll fail if I don’t demonstrate and change even the small things to help more people serve alcohol. That’s



refreshing. Yeah, well, you So you mentioned already once, but we talk a little about the budget, you just pat got passed. For people like me who don’t quite grasp the whole magnitude of the situation. How does a process like that work,



they don’t have budgets in college football, I don’t understand, oh, airstone likely,



but I wasn’t included in those meetings, though.



They left you out. So actually, the city manager and department heads work several months preceding the presentation to Council. They present decision packages on behalf of their department of where they want to go from a departmental level, those get approved or disapproved by the city management from a proposal and then that’s proposed to city council, we have numerous public hearings, we sort of ebb and flow with those numbers decide what we’re gonna keep or not keep some of the biggest discussions this budget cycle concerned the number of firefighters that we have in the city. So what we decided upon was to add 10 additional firefighters to the second class that will be graduating in July of 2022. As well as fund a staffing study that’s comprehensive across the entire department to look at what our needs are. And that includes several things not just not just number of people, but also firehouses an infrastructure, and the issue had the potential to really bring the wheels off of The budget bus honestly, but a lot of great discussion with my fellow council members, we were all working together on where you want it to be. Because we have if we if we had to narrow down one responsibility of city government, its public safety. Sure, right. And streets and trash pickup all those things. So we have to get that right. But I think this is the better long term solution to go through the staffing study and really evaluate what the needs are. Yeah.



And real quick Brinton if, if I might ask that these these meetings you’re having with all these folks, How can any contention there any any arguments ever? How often does it happen that you guys get in a situation where there’s, you know, disagreements and you’re having to not yell, but have a very heated conversation with somebody? Is that a common occurrence?



Well, it’s common, but it’s the way we conduct ourselves, I think he’d be proud of I mean, I don’t think you’re seeing anything play out in open session that we’re not doing behind closed doors, so to speak in private meetings. I’m trying to spend more time because I think it’s necessary one on one, or in smaller meetings with council members, and here’s why. I have things I want to accomplish. Absolutely. But those are just ideas. They can’t be policy until I have five votes, and soon to be seven with redistricting. So it’s just smart politics, right to whip count, know where your votes are. Yep. The second thing is, I love the perspective of those council members, because they ran for office and are serving for a reason they want to accomplish things to a lot of those items can absolutely be done without me, so to speak, unless it was for votes at Council. But there are several things that they would love to have the help of the mayor’s office. And I don’t mean me individually, I mean, the bully pulpit of the office, because that’s what it’s really what that’s the power there. To help them further their main objectives.



Have you been able to kind of gauge in just this short amount of time of like, what those kind of requests for those are, and then that and I will comment, and I think I told you this, when I saw you earlier this week, you’ve done a really good job. I mean, you can see it as you guys interact, I think that there is a respect there. That is it really exists even with folks who are coming from far different worlds than maybe you’ve come from, I mean, it just it really does show and I think that you all are still working on the kind of the timing of things and kind of the efficiency and kind of getting through these kind of meetings. But I will say, on the flip side of that you’ve given people the opportunity to speak from where they’ve come, they’re coming from in those decisions. And so so back to the question is, have you been able to kind of assess like, Okay, I know this is really important to you. And I know that and has your work in the Texas Legislature actually helped. Yeah, and that that’s where it kind of learned all this stuff. Absolutely.



I feel like I feel Everyday I’m really lucky to have had that experience and think it does kick in. I’ll give you a good example recently. That’s happening right now in real time. Councilmember Elizabeth Beck is down in Austin testifying on behalf of her office, and a few other council members about redistricting, specifically the Senate District 10 seat, which is a Fort Worth seat. The maps are not done there’s plenty back and forth them he was map you probably know this is extremely rural way west of Tarrant County. I want a Fort Worth seat. Because rural versus urban used to be a big fight in the legislature. It’s not anymore. And so what’s interesting about that Elizabeth and I might disagree on little things, or like what we’re going to say about redistricting or frustrations there. But we both agree we want what’s best for Fort Worth. And so that’s a great example of Elizabeth go do that testify. She’s doing an awesome job. She doesn’t need the mayor permission to do that. But you know, I’ll share with her kind of my strategy might be phone calls, like what behind the scenes, I want to know what this map could look like it’d be different. Yeah. So that’s just an maybe an example for listeners. Yeah.



Has the job been everything you imagined and more? Is there? Are there things that you’re frustrated with these might be kind of an open ended question but everything you’ve done in three months, and there’s some good stuff there are there things that you are just like this is not going to get done. I’m having problems in getting is everything is everything you’d expect it to be.



So it is everything I’ve expected to be in a lot more so having staffed for different elected officials for lots of years, you know, almost two decades. It is really different when it’s your name on the door.



Yeah, you go to bed at night kind of thinking about just all those asks in a different way.



You do and I’m luckily I can compartmentalize, okay, which is helpful. But it’s it’s just a unique feeling. You know, and I am, I’m still Mattie and I have friends that want to call me mayor and that drives me nuts I got, I just want to be the person that community that can get some stuff done, roll up our sleeves and move on. I’ve been pretty candid that I think the way we train up the next generation of leaders is important. God bless Mayor price for doing that for 10 years. And I’ve been doing it for three months. I’m like, how did she do that? Yeah, it’s truly amazing. Yeah. I’m also recognizing it’s okay for me to have my own way of doing business. We’re very different personalities. And people sometimes assumed that was funny during the campaign. y’all heard this Betsy 2.0 a lot. We’re really different. Yeah, in terms of the way We opted me I’m very much more of an introvert than Betsy is, and my willingness to show up at everything and do all those things is just different because of my family. So all that to say, that expectation is different. I haven’t had necessarily frustrations, it’s more about I get in my own head. I know, effective advocacy, I know when things can get done well. And so I’m really cautious and careful right now to roll anything out until those pieces are in place. Because three pillars I really want to work on while I’m mayor, our infrastructure, economic development and education. And a lot of that just has to do with the city of the future that we have to have. If you don’t, if you don’t focus on those elements. Where are you? And the potential of landing rivian is amazing, right? And the groundwork that was laid even before and really during that election. And so thinking about economic development, with Raytheon, or if we don’t get ready on a post mortem, right? I’m still very hopeful. But that’s just something I’m considering right now on the Eco Divo side, education is a huge opportunity for us. But I want more people to feel like it’s a crisis in a crisis, not of we’re blaming people, a crisis of the whole community needs to care about this. Yeah. And an infrastructure. For certain people. It’s a sexy topic. For others. It’s like, I don’t understand what she’s talking about. But we just have to plan for the future of the city, second fastest growing city, that’s not changing any. You can learn from cities like Austin, about what you don’t do to plan for infrastructure changes or mobility in general. So from an expectations level, I think some people are like, go like, what are you going to let the press conference going to be about? And I’m kind of careful about that. And trying to sort through what that looks like I



mentioned a second ago, your private life? And if you mind me getting personal, are you able to maintain a private life because I know you can’t go to the store anymore like he used to. You can’t drive down the street and just go for a walk. And obviously, you’re very busy. But how do you maintain a private life? With all this happening in front of you every day? Do you know



when the bulk trash in my neighborhood is



day? Monday? We have a lot of boxes we missed last month? So we yes and no. And David and I are trying to figure that out together, you know, and take, just take our time. And just this mean, good example this week. I’m like, I not going to survive the month of October. So we’re going to have to move some stuff around. Right? And that was just me looking at the calendar and going oh my gosh, you know, so, lesson learned, we’re gonna be more careful what we put on the schedule anyway. Yeah.



tends to do everything in their lives in September, October, I understand. Let’s go. Yeah, but let’s not do anything during the summer. And then September, October, we’ll plan every social event every back to school event. It’s just crazy in every work event two, yes.



So that’s piece of it. Personal, you know, carving out time. Luckily, we’ve got a few things coming up. We’re just you know, a personal trip or two, which is really nice for us. The boys are great. They’re back in school and playing sports, and they’re doing well. I don’t know about y’all his house. But as long as you’re there in the mornings, taken to school, breakfast, all those things in the evenings, like for dinner time. Your family is pretty good. Yep. The moment you start moving parents around. Kids hate that. Yeah. And I hate that personally. Yeah. So try to protect that time as best



David is a good cook, cuz he does. He



doesn’t cook. He can do a lot of other things really well. But we’re blessed to have my mom during the week. So she cooks as well. She go back to Ohio during the weekend. She does Yeah, she gets to the farm on the weekend. Probably just sleep for 48 hours. Yeah. Because we’re so crazy. Yes. Back to it. Yeah.



So we asked about just some of the, you know, the good things that city hall Do you have some complaints? Like I mean, I’ve had the coffee there. It’s like, you know, always terrible, but Oh, it’s like watered down? Yeah. Could Is there any been steadfast, like changes to that? Like, we need Starbucks in here. If we’re going to continue as the, you know, 12th largest



show? viously? We would have we have a multitude of local coffee shops you could choose from? Yeah, yeah. Well, honestly, I’m trying not to complain too much about those things, because we are going to move into a new city hall, right? And there’s so much opportunity and what that looks like, but I do think the little things matter, honestly. And a coffee is probably one of them.



What how does that look? When is that going to happen? I went to an open house there a couple weeks ago, and a lot of the staff were like, we’re not really sure you know, and I know there are challenges on you can say this, but the kind of how you overall do the management of the people, but then also how you fit into a space that’s really accessible to the public.



So Athenian group is who we hired to help us go through that visioning process and we all interviewed with them to talk about what our priorities would be. So I felt a lot of faith in the opportunity there. I’m so excited for city staff to have a workspace that they can be proud of and empowered in and excited to come to work not in a dungeon not in a dungeon like planning and development. Right now. It’s a bifurcated department. But you know, again, I’m saying if you’ve had to do work down there, that’s awful. And I complained about it for years ever when they were community complaints. And this is when Randall Harwood was department director. I said, spend that money on new work environment. Yeah, because I think it matters to how you’re able Do your jobs right now. It’s very siloed. And I think in the New City facility, we will prioritize that department as a critical component of economic development. So I’m excited about that also. Yeah. And and then the the activation space around City Hall. That’s so possible. it’s by no means the equivalent but think about the state capitol in Austin. And how busy those Capitol grounds usually are beautifully kept. You have open place for public protest or open place for a parade or demonstrations. Yeah, yep, people get engaged. That’s that we need that kind of space in a city hall. I think that location will provide that.



I’ve noticed as many people have that you you have your own podcast now.



Inspired by you guys.



Believe you but that’s very nice of you to say, how is the podcast going? And what are your plans with the future, the podcast,



so it’s really fun. Bethany on my team has been awesome. organizing all the people had lots of suggestions from people submitted. And we have a pretty good calendar through the end of this year. As you there’s a business to it, as you guys well know, to try to keep everything scheduled. I’m getting great feedback that people are enjoying it, we can probably do more of and I’ll work through this of the little the little updates on city business just to kind of people know what’s going on. And I think it’s just a start for me honestly about communicating differently with folks meeting them where they are. And again, it was sort of selfish, because that’s how I consume news. And it’s easier for me in the car, in the bathroom, whatever listening to podcasts, so I’m hopeful that people have taken to enjoying it. I think



it’s helpful when you have a great partner to help you along the way.



I don’t have the fancy music that y’all have. By the way, what was up was your intro music today. Are you angsty?



Oh, that’s that’s our theme song. Yes, yeah, I wrote the words and Tegan Broadwater our buddy he did that we said like called



burn the fort down yeah, she doesn’t sound positive but it really is we’re trying to get you



to have to listen to the lyrics and yeah, I can give you the scratch



I give him license over the music



they don’t get a lot of license right?



We’re trying something different and we actually we appreciate the guy that made it so outdid him,



by the way at aact luncheon this week. No, yes. Sorry. Engineer group. He works with a lot. Okay. And I said, How many of you know that he plays lead guitar and only like six of them raise their hand? Yeah. So



the engineering community has not been my strongest fan base for pedal steel. Working on that shop?



Yeah, usually I have to introduce these pedal steel bit to the show, but you brought it in today, which is very appreciated. So



I’m gonna get my instructor on he’s like turning 70 soon and I went back when I work for a state senator. I got him the Commissioner of pedal steel. You know, she was governor for the day. Well, that’s awesome. He has it hanging in his little. He’s super good guy. So



what music What podcasts Do you listen to in the car?



lately? I haven’t honestly I haven’t had time to lately because I’m pretty active and it’s not all Bethany’s fault ports I need to know lately I’ve just been I’ll do Wall Street Journal in new york times daily update, NPR daily update, and then I’ll listen to freakanomics has had a really few great episodes lately I’ve listened to always active Freakonomics episode. And then I’ll sometimes like to go like Rachel Maddow and a Megyn. Kelly. Because then you walk well, we live on two different planets. Yeah, so I know that’s kind of fun to me sometimes. What about learning something music wise,



you said you’re gonna go check something out tonight. And then



we’re gonna go to sleep at the wheel that are playing the 20th anniversary for Central Market, which is really cool. We got to go see Eric Clapton. Dickies last Monday, he was awesome. Yeah, incredible concert. And it’s it’s Eric Clapton in Fort Worth. When did you think that was ever gonna happen? Yeah. Special. Yeah, you’re awesome. I know.



So how do you rate your performance in the first three months? If you give yourself a grade?



I think maybe a B plus C plus. Yeah, I mean, there’s some things I probably wish I’d been more out front on or other things that I think I was just right on. So I’ve tried to show up wherever I needed to be and provide, you know, insight there. So yeah, plus, and I’m an A student, so that’s not good for me. Well,



there’s room for prayer for us.



Okay, so we’ve already asked you like, best day of the life, but maybe we can ask best day of the life as mayor, you know, thus far, kind of just



the life of Mayor so far. Gosh, that’s kind of hard. I’m thinking about really fun things we’ve gotten to do. Okay, the PVR announcement was really exciting. Yeah. You know, professional bull riders in Fort Worth. Yeah. And the combination of so many people working hard to put forth on the map. Mm hmm. So I think you’re going to continue to see exciting announcements like that. So those are always fun to be working. As mayor



so far. worst day as mayor



so far. I was trying to



end on a high note



swinging around, you know, okay, let’s



see this half.



She’s got rain, she can handle this question.



Yeah, the worst days or I wouldn’t say they’re just worse. It’s just the ones where I can’t breathe in between stuff. And I feel like I’m going one thing to the next and sink in, right? Like you’re just meeting little windup toys where they kind of feel like time so you go home and you can’t go to bed. Cuz it’s so much Yeah, yeah though I thought I’d take a bath and watch Downton Abbey I can go to bed.



Oh nice. That’s



my pleasure.



Put everybody they really do



yeah by the time this airs the TCS game wolf can be been finalized we’ll see you hopefully not wearing an SMU jersey



yeah come on frog Patterson promised he did he did



last night where we’re at the Hall of Fame dinner at over the limit at the stadium fantastic guys got inducted but we saw coach Patterson so Jeremiah did not have the ad everybody’s excited about this I know yeah well so good hopefully we need



to do is get Mayor Johnson on with y’all we can all come together and



tried we have tried Mayor Johnson he’s turned me down but I’ll work



on it that’d be fun to get him over here



something with the phone lines from wedges Yeah, the tin can and string doesn’t work



well she’s also had a budget season for him you know he’s been working hard there’s a lot more contention over there and they have a new baby in their house so they’ve got lots going on. We don’t Johnson actually share that in common on not many mayor’s across the country have we have young families trying to make this work and he really started it as and his wife has a busy job as well. So



there are ideas is to have you on together. As I talk about him he’s got to re engage with him. But he doesn’t see the value I think in a fourth podcast right now but perhaps in the future we’ll keep



reciprocate we say well,



we have a friend who’s got the Dallas Morning News podcast our friend Paul Corliss there with you and T and he has so there is another avenue though there’s all on where the pie eating takes place we may be able to put something together any last thoughts before we



let you go back?



You’re doing this honestly your studios are much much improved here. This is pretty fancy shit.



You postponing city hall for us. That’s really nice. Yeah. Yeah, of course. You appreciate your time Maddy.



Thank you for having me so you can hear some music.