businessman

Rowlett Mayor Resigns, Sets Sights on Dallas County Commission Seat

Rowlett Mayor Todd Gottel announced his resignation Tuesday and his candidacy for the Dallas County Commissioners Court seat being vacated by Republican Mike Cantrell at the end of 2018.

Gottel has been mayor of Rowlett since 2011 and on its council since 2007. He is best known for guiding the city of 58,000 through the aftermath of an EF-4 tornado that struck in December 2015.

Rowlett Mayor Todd Gottel announced his resignation and candidacy for Dallas County Commissioners Court. (Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News)

Gottel never lost an election in Rowlett. However a proposed change to the city charter that would have allowed him to serve up to three full terms instead of the current two, was turned down by voters last May. That left Gottel facing term limits in 2019.

Rowlett’s city’s charter calls for the special election of a new mayor within 120 days of Gottel’s announcement. Gottel said he plans to preside as mayor until his replacement is elected.

Though municipal seats are non-partisan, Gottel said he is known as a Republican. He emceed U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions’ recent town hall event when the congressman’s foes came out passionate and raucous.

“We see the same things in our city,” Gottel said. “The issue is not health care, but it may be apartments or something they care just as much about. A lot of it is trying to educate people on the facts and let them make their own minds up on it. Government doesn’t have to be bad.”

Commission’s lone Republican

District 2, the lone Republican seat on the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court, is generating a lot of early interest, even though Cantrell plans to stay on the job until the end of 2018. The election is in November 2018, but the race will likely be decided in the party’s spring primary.

“It’s really early on, but if you’re going to get into the race, you have to start now,” Gottel said.

Dallas attorney J.J. Koch declared his candidacy last August, within days of Cantrell’s retirement announcement. Koch and Gottel both believe the campaign will require $300,000-$400,000.

J.J. Koch of Dallas, 37, attorney and declared 2018 candidate for Dallas County Commissioners Court, District 2.

District 2 includes parts of Addison, Carrollton, Coppell, North Dallas, Farmers Branch, the Park Cities, Richardson, Rowlett and Sachse.

“Todd Gottel is a phenomenal public servant,” Koch said. “It is simply my belief that the challenges we face in the Commissioners Court are very dissimilar than the challenges he has faced. We have a crisis in law enforcement, courts, jails and general administration in the county.”

Garland City Council member Stephen Stanley has also acknowledged an interest in the seat. Stanley remains on the council, which means he is not officially a candidate, but his Garland term ends in May and he did not seek re-election.