Regardless of your political affiliation, one cannot deny the kingmaking machine that is the Fort Worth District 9 City Council seat! The District 9 City Council chair, which includes downtown Fort Worth, has sprung forth two consecutive council members each of whom have recently attained their own prominence on an international level. The Honorable Joel Burns, our current City Councilman, had gained worldwide recognition overnight for a passionate “It Gets Better”-style speech he delivered from the City Council dais on October 12th, 2010. Literally within an hour after the City Council video was available online, it was already viewed by over a million people. This led to a multitude of major news outlets covering the story, and by week’s end the video had been watched over 2.5 million times.
Burns’ immediate District 9 predecessor, Senator Wendy Davis, had gained international notoriety for her recent filibustering of Senate Bill 5 which centered on new standards to be mandated for abortion clinics. As word spread of the ongoing filibuster, scores of websites started posting links to Texas Tribune’s live feed of the Texas Senate floor, with several hundred thousand viewers watching the events unfold live as the night drew to a close. The following day, Senator Davis’ filibuster efforts unexpectedly became the top news story across the globe, dominating domestic news programs in the US, and sparking a week’s worth of dialogue fodder for every radio talk show imaginable.
MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow, who has professed numerous times to be a personal fan of Wendy Davis before previous interviews, had punctuated her reporting on the recent filibuster by saying “Texas. Who knew?” That sentiment was echoed throughout the Internet as Joel Burns’ clip made the rounds as well. While we’d like to think that being the councilperson over the greater downtown Fort Worth area is a springboard to national-scale political notoriety, the real picture is that from these two people alone, Fort Worth has received a tremendous amount of attention for illustrating that some cities in Texas can indeed have a progressive and cosmopolitan side, debunking stereotypes that are held by folks in larger cities across the country.