Law & Order; Kennedale Mayor John Clark is Helping Direct the City's Future
City of Kennedale Mayor John Clark
John Clark has been dedicated to a successful law career and to his family for nearly three decades now. But since May of 2012, he has also devoted himself to serving as the mayor of Kennedale. This convergence of professional activities has occurred through a seamless series of events that have placed Clark in the driver’s seat of city government.
Clark was born in San Antonio but grew up in Fort Worth where his father worked at what was then General Dynamics. His mother was a nurse who stayed at home for several years to raise Clark and his seven siblings. He says such a large family necessitated that everyone learn how to pitch in to make it all work out. “We worked hard for the things that we needed and my dad always tried to fix them when they broke,” says the 55-year-old Clark today. “We all had jobs and chores around the house and part time jobs in high school.”
They worked on their own cars, and even did their own plumbing, electrical and carpentry work when necessary. It was a close family upbringing that regularly found all 10 members of the family eating together around the dinner table each evening.
He went on to attend and graduate from Stephen F. Austin University in 1980 and then was off to law school at St. Mary’s. He graduated law school and got married in the same year, 1983.
Clark began his career as an attorney in Fort Worth where he worked for a firm during the mid to late 1980s. It was during this time that he met fellow attorney Toby Goodman. The two formed a bond and in 1989 opened up their own legal practice, Goodman and
Goodman eventually became involved in state politics and was to go on to serve as a state representative. This led to Clark’s first political involvement. “I worked for part of the time in his district office in Arlington,” says Clark.
Clark admits he enjoyed his first taste of politics – but it was not to be his last. He found himself serving on the Kennedale city council by 1999 and has been involved with the city’s government in some capacity ever since. “I was first invited to serve on the board of adjustments in Kennedale and was later asked to be chairman of the committee which drafted the Home Rule Charter that we currently use.
One of the councilmen was elected mayor of Kennedale and I was appointed to complete his term,” he says. As mayor, Clark says he attends meetings on behalf of the city and is responsible for the items on the agenda for discussion. “I act as spokesman when needed. I speak for the council on decisions made by the council so there is a single consistent position,” he says.
He says he prefers to “lead by example” and encourages all council members to be involved in discussion of the issues. “I try to keep the council focused on the bigger picture and avoid trying to run the day-to-day actions of employees,” he says.
Kennedale has faced its share of challenges and its potential for growth – both business and residential – is significant. That’s not lost on Clark who says the city is currently working on redevelopment of the north end of town and is in the middle of conducting a study that will help determine solutions to flooding in the Village Creek area.
Clark thoroughly enjoys serving the Kennedale community as mayor and relishes his role as a policy maker and contact point for the public. “I am lucky that I work with great council members and staff. We generally are on the same page about the big issues,” he says.
He sees continued residential growth and says the city must have a plan for that growth. “We need to coordinate our development with adjacent city development. We have a great opportunity with the oak Crest area on the north and development on the south of town to make connections that allow linear parks and connections to Arlington and Mansfield,” he says.
The city is trying to invigorate business development that can help with sales tax revenue to reduce the burden on property tax, while improving city services and quality of life.
Coming from a large family and having legal experience, says Clark, makes him a great listener. A great skill for a mayor to possess. “I think I tend to focus on goals and recognize it may take persistence to achieve the goals I set,” he says. “I understand how to look at ways to do the most good for the group rather than focusing on what may be good for me or for one person.”
It’s that kind of service attitude that will ensure a stronger Kennedale under the leadership of Clark.