Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Dallas mayoral candidate Edward Opka is in it to win it
While most political experts have written him off, Okpa is excited to find out what the next month holds.
There has been a tendency to make the Dallas mayoral election about three candidates. But Edward Opka wants voters in the city to know that his name is on the ballot and that he has every intention of winning in May.
The Nigerian-born commercial real estate consultant says it’s time for Dallas voters to choose a new direction. He cites his business experience and years of public service as evidence that he’s ready for the job of mayor.
He looks on the last four years as a mixed bag. Opka credits Tom Leppert for helping to get the Convention Center Hotel construction moving, says there wasn’t much else to Leppert’s uncompleted term. “What other projects do we have on the horizon?” Opka says.
Opka sees Dallas in five unique geographical pieces: North, South, East, West and downtown. He says that if two sections in someone’s house is well and the other three were in bad shape they would put more work into the sections that need fixing.
Opka says that a trip across Loop 12 between Highway 67 and Interstate 45 shows the challenges faced in Southern Dallas. He points to tire shops in the area as an example of the problem. “Tire shops with tires outside their building are a visual nuisance,” says Opka. He contends that this wouldn’t be tolerated in other parts of the city.
He also points to the Lancaster Avenue rail corridor as a missed opportunity for development. “After all most 20 years of DART rail service, we don’t have the same level of TOD (Transit Oriented Development) impact as other parts of the city,” says Opka. “We don’t have any TOD in Southern Dallas.”
Mr. Opka says that his real estate experience could help him get key development deals done if he were mayor. “I know developers and the issues that they face,” Opka said. But he also points to his experience in international dealings as a benefit to Dallas. “There is no other candidate with more international contacts than what I have,” he said. He said he would work with investors from across the globe to bring their dollars to Dallas.
Opka had the desire to come to America from a young age, and was even more determined to visit America after his uncle come to Dallas in 1975. His father said he would be free to go after he finished school, and after completing college in Nigeria in 1983, he moved to Dallas two years later. “I’ve never left,” said Opka, who has lived in the same zip code with the same home telephone number since he moved here.
He was inspired to get involved in civic affairs by former Dallas Mayor and current U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Opka said that he saw the importance of the city having an international outlook as he traveled on trade missions with the former mayor. Opka was later appointed Chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center by former Mayor Laura Miller and served as a member of the Dallas County Appraisal Review Board.
But his focus is on business and he says that there should be creative thinking applied to Dallas’ budget woes. He says nurturing entrepreneurs would help build the tax base. “Every business doesn’t have to be a big business,” he said, “small business is the backbone of the American economy.”
Mr. Opka says that $1 million should be set aside for each district to invest in local businesses. Opka proposes a city sponsored “Dallas Has Got Talent” competition, where Dallas residents compete for up to $50,000 in business funds. “It wouldn’t be free money,” he said, “winners would have to create at least 3 to 4 jobs.”
While most political experts have written him off, Okpa is excited to find out what the next month holds. In the end it’s voters who’ll make the decision and Opka is happy to take his chances in May.
Pegasus News Content partner - Dallas South News
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