Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns has drawn a late opponent in his May 11 re-election bid: Graham Brizendine, an Oakhurst real estate broker and businessman.
Brizendine, 34, ran into Burns at the City Hall elevator enroute to fliing papers at the city secretary’s office.
“He recognized me, he got real flush, I thought, oh, gosh, this is somebody who clearly is running for District 9,” said Burns, who then waited for Brizendine to file before greeting him.
Brizendine filed hours before today’s deadline to appear on the May 11 ballot. His filing ensures Fort Worth has five contested council races: District 2 incumbent Sal Espino vs. challenger and ex councilman Jim Lane; District 4 incumbent Danny Scarth vs. challenger and Porsche salesman Paul Gardner; District 5 incumbent Frank Moss vs. longtime broadcaster and nonprofit executive Gyna Bivens; and District 8 incumbent Kelly Allen Gray vs. Kathleen Hicks, who gave up the District 8 seat last year to run unsuccessfully for Congress.
Mayor Betsy Price, Mayor Pro Tem Zim Zimmerman, and council members Jungus Jordan and Dennis Shingleton drew no opponents as of the 5 p.m. deadline.
Brizendine, who owns a residential real estate firm and has a young son, said he’s running because he wants to put his small business and education interests to work, he grew up in the district, and he wanted to make sure District 9 had an opponent. Oakhurst was drawn into District 9 in the City Council’s new redistricting maps. Brizendine said he and his wife Heather are moving to Berkeley to be close to Lily B. Clayton Elementary School for their son.
Brizendine, who graduated Paschal High School and went to school there with Burns’ council aide, also said he feels Burns has higher interests.
“I have no aspirations, I’m not running for City Council to put myself in position to run for state or national office,” Brizendine said. “My concern is Fort Worth.”
Burns said he has no other plans beyond the new two-year council term.
“I’m focused on serving on City Council, and if I wanted to run for something else, I’d run for something else,” he said.
Burns said he closed his real estate practice last year to focus on his public service. He touted the recent groundbreaking for the new public safety center and the impending re-opening of the Forest Park Pool as accomplishments he’s proud of.
“I’m looking forward to economic development work on Magnolia and West Seventh” and Race Street, new to District 9, Burns said.
“Another thing I’m very squarely focused on is better ways to connect citizens to better government,” he said.
His campaign has a big warchest, having started with $30,000 and raising $82,000 in eight weeks, for about $100,000 cash on hand, he said.
- Scott Nishimura, Star-Telegram Fort Worth City Hall reporter