Mayor of Dallas

Last updated
Mayor of Dallas
Seal of Dallas.svg
Seal of the City of Dallas
Eric Johnson 2019.jpg
Eric Johnson

since 2019
Style The Honorable
Residence Dallas, Texas
Term length Four years, renewable once
Inaugural holderDr. Samuel B. Pryor
FormationDallas City Charter
Website City of Dallas - Mayor Eric Johnson

The Mayor of the City of Dallas is the head of the Dallas City Council. The current mayor is Eric Johnson, who has served one term since 2019 and is the 62nd mayor to serve the position. Dallas operates under a weak-mayor system, and a board-appointed city manager operates as the chief executive of the city.


Duties and powers

The city of Dallas operates under a council-manager government type, putting the city of Dallas in a unique position as being one of the largest cities in the United States to utilize this municipal government structure. Unlike the more common form of government used by large cities known as the mayor-council government - where the mayor serves the chief-executive position of the city - the council-manager government of the city of Dallas gives the chief-executive position to the appointed City Manager. As a result, the mayor is elected at-large and serves a largely ceremonial position fulfilling a handful of key duties. The mayor serves as a member of the city council, presides over city council meetings and official ceremonies, and serves as a representative to the City of Dallas at a local, state, national, and international level. Likewise, it is not uncommon for mayors of the city of Dallas to simultaneously serve as members or heads of other committees while in office, further representing the interests of the people and city of Dallas in organizations and committees.


The Office of Mayor was created with the formation of the Dallas City Charter in 1856, also providing for the mayor six aldermen, a treasurer, recorder and a constable. In the charter, it was stated that each office would be elected for a term of one year. [1] In the reorganization of 1876, the mayor was elected to the office for a term of two years. [2] The office was first filled in the election of 1856, in which Dr. Samuel B. Pryor defeated A. D. Rice for the position. [3] A. D. Rice would run for office again and go on to serve as the 4th mayor of the city.

For much of the 19th century, mayors of the city of Dallas served for only one term. This precedence was broken at the end of Winship C. Connor's term, who – after serving three consecutive terms from 1887 to 1894 – was the longest-serving mayor of the city at the time. His success was accredited to the development of the city's first water, power, and streetcar systems.

The municipal government of Dallas underwent two significant structural changes during its history. The first change was made in 1907 where the city voted to change from an alderman system to a commission form of government. Stephen J. Hay was the first mayor elected in this new form of government, demonstrating the success of the highly debated commission form of government and contributing to the development of White Rock Lake in response to a water shortage in 1910. The second major government change was made in 1930, altering the commission form of government to specifically be a council-manager form. The first mayor to serve following this change was Tom Bradford, a successful grocer who was a significant financial contributor to the Bradford Memorial Hospital for Babies, the preliminary institution to the Children's Medical Center Dallas. He died after suffering a major heart attack in 1932 and was the first mayor of Dallas to die in office.

Woodall Rodgers was mayor of Dallas from 1939 to 1947, one of the few mayors in the city's history to serve a full eight year tenure. He was mayor during World War II and served during the rampant manufacturing of aircraft and weapon goods in a rapidly industrializing Dallas, along with the neighboring city of Fort Worth. At the time, Dallas Love Field was used as a joint USAAF base and training ground. Following the end of the war, significant improvements were made to the airport to modernize facilities and prepare it for the Jet Age. He was also mayor when the Mercantile National Bank Building was constructed, which was the only skyscraper built in the United States during World War II and was the tallest building in the city of Dallas until the completion of Republic Center Tower I in 1954. The economic success brought by his contributions in office are commemorated by several namesakes throughout the city, most notably the Woodall Rodgers Freeway that passes underneath Klyde Warren Park and over the Trinity River along the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Earle Cabell served as 48th mayor from 1961 to 1964 and was mayor during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the city. In the wake of the assassination, Cabell was the target of multiple death threats and frivolous accusations of his involvement in the act.

The image of the city of Dallas was immensely tarnished by the assassination of the President, earning the moniker "City of Hate". Following Earle Cabell was Mayor J. Erik Jonsson who funded and supported the then proposed Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. As mayor, he went on to support public works projects such as developing the new Dallas City Hall, the Dallas Convention Center, and the Dallas Central Library the last of which is now named in his honor. He was followed by Wes Wise who went on to further improve the city's image during his term from 1971 to 1973. However, he stepped down to pursue a political career in United States Congress before the end of his term. His pro-term mayoral successor, Adlene Harrison, stepped in and became acting mayor for the remainder of his term. She was the city's first female mayor, and the first female Jewish mayor in the United States. Although Dianne Feinstein is officially recognized as the first female Jewish mayor in the United States, Adlene Harrison's position as acting mayor predates Feinstein's start in office by almost two years; Adlene began serving as acting mayor on February 11, 1976, while Feinstein took office on December 4, 1978. Adlene would go on to serve as a member of several environmental committees and organizations after her short tenure, including the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ron Kirk was the first African-American mayor of the City of Dallas and served two terms from 1995 to 2002. As mayor, he led several efforts advocating for race equality and social welfare, mitigated tension between City Council and the controversial Dallas School Board, advocated for economic development, and oversaw the construction of the American Airlines Center. He would later step down to pursue a seat in the US Senate, where he lost in the 2002 election to John Cornyn. After his defeat, he went on to become a lobbyist before being nominated and appointed by President Barack Obama to served as United States Trade Representative from 2009 to 2013.

Laura Miller - the city's third female mayor, following Adlene Harrison and Annette Strauss - was instrumental in renegotiating the Wright Amendment to revise flight restrictions at Love Field Airport, as well as implementing a citywide smoking ban and an ordinance prohibiting sex-based discrimination. The following mayor Tom Leppert would impose a staunch crime-fighting policy, promote the economic development of a modern inland port, and was a vocal supporter of a controversial convention center hotel project at the peak of the 2008 recession. He would later vacate the office to pursue a US Senate campaign in 2012, of which he would place third in the runoff. Following the four-month incumbency of acting mayor Dwaine Caraway, mayor Mike Rawlings would be known for his vocal leadership during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, the 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers, and the removal of confederate monuments following the Charlottesville riots.


Samuel B. Pryor, the first mayor of Dallas. Samuel-b-pryor.jpg
Samuel B. Pryor, the first mayor of Dallas.
Stephen J. Hay, the first mayor elected under commission government and advocate for the White Rock Lake project. S J Hay 001.jpg
Stephen J. Hay, the first mayor elected under commission government and advocate for the White Rock Lake project.
Earle Cabell, son and grandson of former mayors Ben E. Cabell and William Lewis Cabell respectively, was mayor of Dallas at the time of President Kennedy's assassination. Earle Cabell.jpg
Earle Cabell, son and grandson of former mayors Ben E. Cabell and William Lewis Cabell respectively, was mayor of Dallas at the time of President Kennedy's assassination.
Ron Kirk, the first African-American mayor of Dallas. Ron Kirk official portrait.jpg
Ron Kirk, the first African-American mayor of Dallas.
Incumbent mayor Eric Johnson. Eric Johnson 2018.jpg
Incumbent mayor Eric Johnson.

This is the list of people who have held the office of Mayor. Note: municipal elections in Texas are non-partisan. The party affiliation of the Mayor is listed here for informational purposes only. [lower-alpha 1]

#MayorTerm startTerm endTerms Party
1 Samuel B. Pryor 185618571 None
2 John McClannahan Crockett 185718581 Democratic
3 Isaac Naylor 185818581None
4 A. D. Rice 185818591None
5 John M. Crockett (Second term)185918611Democratic
6 Joshua Lafayette Smith 186118611None
7 Thos. E. Sherwood 186118621None
-Military governor (American Civil War).18621865NoneNone
8 John M. Crockett (Third term)186518661Democratic
9 John W. Lane 186618661Democratic
10 George W. Guess 186618681None
11 Benjamin Long 186818701None
12 Henry Ervay 187018721None
13 Benjamin Long (Second term)187218741None
14 William Lewis Cabell 187418761None
15 John D. Kerfoot 18761877½None
16 William Lewis Cabell (Second term)187718791None
17 J. M. Thurmond 187918801None
18 J. J. Good 18801881½Democratic
19 J. W. Crowdus 188118831None
20 William Lewis Cabell (Third term)188318851None
21 John Henry Brown 188518871None
22 Winship C. Connor 188718943None
23 Bryan T. Barry 18941895½None
24 F. P. Holland 189518971None
25 Bryan T. Barry (Second term)189718981None
26 John H. Traylor 189819002None
27 Ben E. Cabell 190019044None
28 Bryan T. Barry (Third term)190419062None
29 Curtis P. Smith 190619071Democratic
30 Stephen J. Hay 190719112Democratic
31 W. M. Holland 191119152None
32 Henry D. Lindsley 191519171Democratic
33 Joe E. Lawther 191719191Democratic
34 Frank W. Wozencraft 191919211Democratic
35 Sawnie R. Aldredge 192119231Democratic
36 Louis Blaylock 192319272None
37 R. E. Burt 192719291None
38 J. Waddy Tate 192919311None
39 Tom Bradford 19311932½None
40 Charles E. Turner 19321935Democratic
41 George Sergeant 193519371Democratic
42 George Sprague 193719391Democratic
43 Woodall Rodgers 193919474None
44 J. R. Temple 194719491Democratic
45 Wallace H. Savage 194919511Democratic
46 Jean Baptiste Adoue 195119531None
47 Robert L. Thornton 195319614Democratic
48 Earle Cabell 19611964Democratic
49 J. Erik Jonsson 19641971None
50 Wes Wise 19711976None
Acting (51) Adlene Harrison 19761976less than 1Democratic
51 (52) Robert Folsom 19761981None
52 (53) Jack Wilson Evans 198119831 Republican
53 (54) Starke Taylor 198319872Republican
54 (55) Annette Strauss 198719912None
55 (56) Steve Bartlett 199119952Republican
56 (57) Ron Kirk 19952001Democratic
Acting (58) Mary Poss 20012002less than 1None
57 (59) Laura Miller 20022007Democratic
58 (60) Tom Leppert 200720112Republican
Acting (61) Dwaine Caraway 20112011less than 1Democratic
59 (62) Mike Rawlings 201120192Democratic
60 (63) Eric Johnson 2019incumbentDemocratic

See also


  1. Term lengths changed many times during the multiple reorganizations of the Dallas City Charter. [4]

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  1. "01Chartr (1).pdf" (PDF). City of Dallas. p. 5.
  2. "01Chartr (1).pdf" (PDF). City of Dallas. p. 6.
  3. "ElectMasterList.pdf" (PDF). City of Dallas. p. 5.
  4. "01Chartr (1).pdf" (PDF). City of Dallas. p. 6.