PaperCity Magazine

April 2019- Dallas

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Page 33 of 99

32 also a big-thinker; some may even call her a dreamer — albeit a calculated one. Take, for example, the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, both of which didn't exist a decade ago. These are but two major civic endeavors that McBee helped spearhead, from an organizational and fundraising standpoint as part of the President's Advisory Council for the former, and chair of the opening weekend celebration for the latter. Today, both are lofty visions that have come to life and helped to reshape once neglected parts of Dallas. Having achieved such monumental feats is perhaps why McBee's focus can often seem aimed toward the big-picture, even visionary. During the candidate forum, which consisted of a diverse group of people from all races, genders, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds, audience members were the ones asking the questions. When discussing her opinion on universal Pre-K (she is for it), McBee takes the notion a step further, by stressing the scientifically proven importance of childhood education from ages zero to three. Asked about raising the current minimum wage, McBee shifts the focus and cites the students at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School. These students aren't focused on the minimum wage, she says, as many are too busy deciding where to attend medical school. Similarly, she says, students in the Dallas County Community College District, for which she has actively served on the board for more than ten years, are earning $150,000 a year for desperately needed trade and vocational jobs. Why focus on minimum wage, she implies, when the focus could be on educating students in a way that prepares them for higher-paying jobs. Forum moderator Demetria McCain, president of The Inclusive Communities Project, announces that there is time for a few final questions. A girl in a Rangel uniform eagerly stands up and is given the floor. She is 17 years old — not even eligible to vote — and is here on a school night. "Will you stand with Dreamers in working to protect our rights?" she asks, referring to the movement of primarily undocumented students and youth seeking to tackle issues related to education, immigration, and citizenship. To that, McBee emphatically replies, "Yes." Do her answers demonstrate a disconnect with the day-to-day issues facing the Dallas community? Perhaps. Or is it that McBee's combination of big-picture thinking and pragmatic practicality allows her to see the path forward and even envision an idyllic result. W ith a month to go before the May 4 election, it's hard to ignore the parallels between McBee and another notable so-called philanthropist: Annette Strauss, the first woman elected mayor of Dallas, whose leadership for two terms in office (from 1987-1991) saw the city through pivotal years of social and economic progress. While McBee has often been compared to Strauss, even before having made the decision to run for mayor, she says she most often reminds people of the late Ruth Altshuler — something she takes as the highest compliment. Altshuler, a powerhouse fundraiser and beloved community leader who died just over a year ago at the age of 93, was a long-time friend and mentor to McBee. Suddenly curious, I ask: Would Ruth have wanted to be mayor? "She did," McBee says, recalling that, at one point, Altshuler had seriously considered running. "And, you know what? I'm glad she didn't do it. With her life of giving back and service, she was such a role model for all of us … While she would have been an awesome mayor, we should be happy she didn't do it, because she made a lot of change in other ways — in the private space. She was an amazing woman." Coming from a mayoral candidate, and one that has been able to move the needle leading the private components of various public-private partnerships, these sentiments certainly beg the question: Where can a dynamic leader like McBee really be most effective — and, ultimately, can private-sector success, no matter how vast, translate into impactful political leadership. "I THINK THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION HAS BEEN: 'I DON'T KNOW HOW IN TOUCH SHE IS WITH ISSUES BECAUSE SHE LOOKS A CERTAIN WAY.' I HATE TO SAY IT, BUT IT IS. 'SHE LOOKS A CERTAIN WAY, AND SHE'S HAD THIS KIND OF LIFE. HOW IN TOUCH CAN SHE BE?' I'M IN TOUCH." – Lynn McBee (continued from page 31)

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