Duncanville Mayor Barry Gordon helped guide his city through some challenging times, especially during his second term of office. First elected in 2018, Mayor Gordon was re-elected for a second term from May of 2020 to May of 2022. During the past 16 months, Duncanville-experienced several unusual, extremely difficult challenges. The challenges started with the Covid-19 Pandemic and resulting shutdowns. Then the Uri Blizzard blanketed most of Texas earlier this year.
Mayor Gordon recalled, “The pandemic was well underway, and in the middle of that came Uri and all the power outages. Then we had the threat of possibly losing water supplies, caused by a major fire in the city. This brought on a water crisis by taking over 50% of our available supply. We had to go into water reserves, but thankfully the crisis didn’t last that long. We made public announcements asking everyone to restrict their water use. After we identified our five major commercial users, I contacted each one personally requesting them to close temporarily. They all agreed, and Dallas Water Utilities was soon able to replenish our supply and avert a crisis.”
Mayor Gordon Equipped for Emergencies
The Mayor was extremely well equipped to help Duncanville weather these storms. Other challenges were brought on by a number of personnel changes during this time. The racial unrest that threatened the entire country was another challenge. The Mayor’s extensive executive management skills, gained from his 33-year career with a Department of Defense agency, had prepared him well. Mayor Gordon’s calm diplomacy and team building skills were invaluable in keeping the City on an even keel during difficult times.
His years with the defense agency also showed Gordon the importance of being adaptable. His family was relocated 14 times, including living overseas in England, Turkey, Germany, and Hawaii. As foreigners living and working in such countries as American Samoa, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Korea, and Saudi Arabia, their goal was to make connections.
Mayor Gordon said, “Whenever we moved, it was our job to be friendly, and to go out and make friends in the community.”
After he retired as Senior VP of the agency in 2003, Gordon and his wife, Marlyse, were eager to put down permanent roots in Duncanville. They have lived in Duncanville over 20 years, and are active members of the southwest community. The Gordons recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, and are members of The Lighthouse Church in Dallas. He chairs their finance committee, plays saxophone in the worship band, and they both teach Bible study. Mayor Gordon also belongs to Duncanville Lions Club and Rotary Club.
Strong Belief System
The Mayor is a devout Christian, and says that his spirituality and having a strong belief system helped him maintain a calm demeanor in face of adversity.
Rev. Dr. Ginger Hertenstein, the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Duncanville, worked closely with Mayor Gordon and others in City Government during those challenging times. Mayor Gordon asked Dr. Hertenstein to organize the City’s Armstrong Park rally in response to protests and racial unrest in surrounding communities. The peaceful rally in Duncanville featured speeches by local ministers, elected officials, and civic leaders. It also featured prayers, spiritual hymns, and Gospel music by church choirs.
Dr. Hertenstein said, “God is aware of what we are facing even before we face it, and He places particular people in our lives for such difficult times. Mayor Gordon is a person of faith, and I believe he was placed in a leadership position for that time. As a man of faith, he was able to rely on God and seek his wisdom.”
In 2017, while serving on a civic board, Gordon says several community leaders approached him about running for Mayor of Duncanville. For the next few months, Gordon said he and Marlyse prayerfully considered this important decision. He agreed to run for Mayor, and in 2018 he won the election with 61% of the vote.
One of his early goals, Mayor Gordon said, was to be able to “conduct city council meetings where significant matters could be discussed in a civilized manner, with diverse points of view considered and debate handled in a professional way.”
Other initial goals included fully funding first responders and filling law enforcement vacancies with long-term officers. He also hoped to attract sustainable retail to the city, and continue strengthening the City’s partnership with Duncanville ISD. Early challenges included the fact that Duncanville is 95% built-out, making it more difficult to attract companies that need significant acreage. Demographics also show the city’s population is maturing. Mayor Gordon said the City’s new Economic Development Director, Agustin (Gus) Garcia, is continuing to address many of these concerns.