Fairchild retires from Dallas Council

Jim Fairchild, second from left, retired from the Dallas City Council on Monday.

Pete Strong/Itemizer Observer file
Jim Fairchild, second from left, retired from the Dallas City Council on Monday.

DALLAS — Longtime Dallas city councilor and former mayor Jim Fairchild has retired from the council.

His resignation is due to illness, City Manager Greg Ellis said. Fairchild was re-elected to serve another term in November 2018.

“He served for a long, long time here in this room,” said Mayor Brian Dalton. “Everybody wishes him well.”

Fairchild was not in attendance at the Dallas City Council meeting Monday night to receive a plaque and letter that the council made for him in appreciation for his two decades of service to the city.

He was first elected to council in 1998 and served two years before successfully running for mayor. Fairchild was the city’s mayor for 10 years before he returned to serving on the council in 2011.

Councilor Kelly Gabliks asked if it would be possible to have Fairchild attend a future meeting to give him a chance to receive the letter and plaque in person.

“Given how many years of service he gave to the city, I’d really like it to be where we could present that to him at a council meeting,” Gabliks said. “If he can make one of the meetings, I’d really like to hold off on giving that to him until we can give him that in person and give him a standing ovation.”

Fairchild’s retirement left a vacancy, which the council promptly filled Monday — as long as the appointee agrees to take the job. The council voted to appoint Larry Briggs, who ran for the council in November and took fifth in the election for four opens seats.

Briggs would serve the entire four-year term.

The city’s charter says the council has the responsibility of filling vacancies, but does not designate a method for doing so. In the past the council has used an application and interview process to select a candidate to fill a vacant seat.

Councilor Jackie Lawson said with the recent general election, another option was to select the person who got the fifth-highest vote total in November’s race.

“You had people willing to run for office, who ran for office, did all the work, and did all the campaigning,” Lawson said. “They committed to saying if they were elected, they would serve for four years.”

Other councilors wanted a special election.

“Historically, we’ve never had to fill a full term. Usually it’s a couple months here, six months there, maybe two years at the most,” said Councilor Ken Woods Jr. “An interview process is fine for something like that, but for four full years, a full term, I’m leaning more toward a special election.”

City Attorney Lane Shetterly said that a special election isn’t an option because the city charter specifically states members of the council must vote to appoint a candidate to the office.

“Vacancies in elected office shall be filled by a vote of the majority of the incumbent members of the council,” Shetterly read from the charter.

Councilor Jennie Rummell said the council could use the interview process and still select Briggs.

“If those people who were not elected came for an interview process, then everyone could use their best judgement if they wanted to appoint the person who had the next highest amount of votes,” Rummell said.

Lawson made the motion to appoint Briggs and the motion passed 6-2, with councilor Gabliks and Woods voting no.

Briggs was not in attendance Monday to accept the appointment, so the council agreed to offer the seat to the person with the next highest vote tally in November’s election if Briggs did not accept.

Tawnya Kreft placed sixth and David Shein was seventh in the election.

Briggs decided after press time whether he would serve.

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