Gyna Bivens is poised to become the longest serving member of the Fort Worth City Council.
Bivens, who has represented District 5 since 2013, won 65 percent of the vote on Saturday, May 6, securing another term she said would be her last. She currently holds the position of Mayor Pro Tem, the second highest position in the city council after mayor.
Looking at the election results looks like Groundhog Day, Bivens said. He thanked supporters at an election night watch party on Saturday, but did not deliver a victory speech.
“At the end of the day, I’ll be watching like everyone else to make sure those final numbers still give us what we perceive as a win,” said Bivens.
He defeated two challengers, William McKinley Jackson and Bob Willoughby.
Bivens, a non-profit executive, represents much of eastern Fort Worth. In 2022, a portion of his district, including the Echo Heights neighborhood and parts of Handley, was cut out of his district through the redistricting process.
Despite the changes in her district, Bivens said the major areas of interest in her district have remained much the same. His goals for District 5 over the next two years are to complete two projects: the Lakes of River Trails development and the Stop Six revitalization project.
“I don’t think there is anyone on the horizon in any elective capacity, who has the passion that I need to see (these projects) proceed and progress,” said Bivens.
Jackson is a pastor on Stop Six and Willoughby is a perennial candidate and vocal critic of Bivens.
Jackson got 16% of the vote, while Willoughby got 18%. Jackson was accused of being ineligible to run in District 5, according to previous coverage by the Fort Worth Report.
Jackson could not be reached for comment.
Even the Fort Worth Report was unable to reach Willoughby.
Supporters of Bivens have cited caring for her community as one of the reasons they support her.
Rafael McDonnell, a longtime supporter appointed to the city’s planning commission, attended the Bivens clock party at the PepperMill Lounge on May 6. Bivens’ greatest strength is his ability to listen to his neighbors, he said.
“If someone wants to come in and build something, and the neighbors might have some issues with that, you know, she’s a very responsive person and she listens to her constituents,” he said. “And I think that’s her strength.”
Bivens said holding the title of longest serving board member allowed her to recognize the importance of bringing younger voices to the board. Her younger colleagues have taught her valuable skills, such as how to use the Canva editing software. For her part, she tries to provide historical context to the decisions made in the council.
“If the desired end result is a specific project or project that you have in mind, you have to keep people engaged,” said Bivens. “Sometimes, travel is so exciting for people that you can see people getting bogged down. I think it’s important to keep people focused on the desired end result.”
District 5, with its wooded neighborhoods and proximity to Arlington, has a history of being overlooked by city leadership, Bivens said.
Recently, residents have complained that East Fort Worth was not included in the tourism literature produced by Visit Fort Worth, the organization charged with promoting the city. The east side has also been neglected in resource distribution, residents said.
“Arlington, Grand Prairie and Dallas get more attention than you do,” Judy Taylor, president of the Historic Handley Neighborhood Association, said in reference to the visitor brochures.
East Fort Worth’s population has increased over the past decade, Bivens said. Despite this, and the presence of several high-end housing developments in District 5, the area has been neglected by developers, Bivens said.
Bivens is committed to continuing to let his constituents guide his priorities during his final two years as a board member.
“They build momentum,” said Bivens. “That in itself gives an elected official the direction, the focus, the goals to move forward… I don’t think anyone who follows me is going to have the ability not to do what people say.”
The city’s old stormwater resources and runoff from developers led to flooding in some East Fort Worth properties. In parts of eastern Fort Worth, roads become impassable following heavy rains. Four people died in 2018 during flash floods in southeast Fort Worth.
Bivens will continue to urge the city to update its development policies to prevent flood conditions from worsening.
“For District 5, it’s about what it takes to make the people of District 5 feel good and proud to live there,” said Bivens.
In his final years as a city council member, Bivens intends to seek to impart wisdom to the next generation of city leaders.
“When you realize you must have four or more friends, that should motivate you to be more congenial, more cooperative, looking for ways to collaborate,” Bivens said. “We’ll just see what happens when this new council takes office.”
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