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Texas, 1978 Party workers are at a loss to explain why state races pique more interest. There were only 886 voting in the Athens city council election. A furniture store owner, uncontested, got 683 votes. A clothing store owner beat out a retiree and a wrecking yard owner. A banker won over an oil company supervisor and a preacher who works weekdays at the county’s electric co-op. The defeated preacher was the only black candidate. Though Athens is 20 percent black, there are no blacks on the council. \(One black councilman resigned to run for county commissioner. 0. D. Baggett is his name. He was a quiet member of the council, less welleducated than his schoolteacher wife There is one black on the city fire department. The only black on the police force is the dog catcher, though there once was a black sergeant. The only black faces at city hall are those of people coming in to pay their water bills. \(The city’s schools were not shut down when integration threatened. They were By Hollace Weiner Arlington Arlington: It’s the hyphen between Dallas-Fort Worth. But it’s hardly a cross section of the two. It’s a town full of affluent, educated whites who moved in because the air is less polluted than in Dallas and the schools more progressive than Fort Worth’s. It’s also a town deeply in debt, a suburb whose economy rests on the stability of a major league baseball franchise \(the amusement parks. But its residents are so glad to be free of inner-city problems that even in an election year it’s difficult to foment discontent. Oh, to be sure, there was a front-page controversy when fishermen learned Lake Arlington was to be stocked with striped instead of black bass. And the city council has just heard its most impassioned plea in years from a desegregated smoothly, and Athens liberals take considerable pride in the fact. But “colored town”it’s not uncommon to find whites who still call it “nigger town” even in polite companyis north of the railroad tracks. Even the black manager of Lone Star Gas and the black high school band director live there. Their houses are more stylish than many in the area, but they must drive over the same rutted dirt roads to get to them as their poorer neighbors must to get to Athens watches Dallas TV. It’s only 75 miles to The City. But the old ways run deep, and the voting patterns will be small-town. Hill supporters think he may take Henderson County. They say it soberly, reflectively. If he does, it will be in spite of his campaign. Neither the AG nor the governor has reached the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of the electorate, and the people of Athens don’t seem to care which one of them wins. Observer contributor John Spragens Jr. is a reporter and photographer for the Athens Review. homeowner seeking municipal aid to dredge the silt from his backyard boat canal. And tonight, as the Mid-Cities Jewish Community Center hosts an informal discussion of local poltics, the most heated issue proves to be traffic congestion. Seated in the living room ‘ of a custom-built house are about two dozen people, mostly immigrants from the Northeast. They have gathered at a home in “The Oaks,” a neighborhood of hills and trees in one of Arlington’s better sections. They are not sure who is running for office, or even when the primary is. Like most of the city’s population, they are predominantly “New Arlington.” Chances are that in five years 50 percent of them will have moved anyway. So they leave local politics to “Old Arlington”the bankers, ministers, realtors and car dealers who have always guided the city. Local newspapers pile up unread on their front lawns. City and county politics holds little interest for transients like these. Though well-versed in national and international affairs, most of the couples here tonight are still trying to fathom the Lone Star State. They complain that in Texas the city managers are sanitary engineersnot social planners. \(Arlington’s traffic congestion testifies to “City managers in Texas know about septic tanks and sewers,” complains Mark Rosentraub, a mustached man in his mid-30s who is a member of the urban studies faculty at UT-Arlington. “Politics in the Southwest is land and water.” But in spite of a necessarily intimate knowledge of rain and drainage, he contends, Arlington zones its most expensive housing developments perilously close to its streams. “Texans are crazy. They move into flood plains,” declares Rosentraub, a New Yorker more recently from California. And in Arlington, they pay for the privilege$47,000 for the average house, flood plain or not. Several thousand dollars higher than the market norm in Dallas. And the people keep coming-35,000 in the past five years, bringing the town’s population to 155,000. “People come here to get away from problems. It’s a town of outsiders,” says Allan Saxe, a political science professor at UTA and the discussion leader tonight. Saxe, who moonlights as a political columnist for one of the local weeklies, The Arlington Citizens-Journal, has lived here for 12 yearsfar longer than most in the group. The others in the room nod in assent. They are not troubled that an old establishment clique governs the city. They are not aroused when Saxe tells of political patronage, or decries the selection of committee members from women’s club rosters. “It’s a very benign, but a very private rule,” says Saxe, who once ran for the city council. “So what’s politics without a bit of patronage?” asks a bald man, formerly of Dallas. “I like Arlington the way it is.” “You get complacent living here,” agrees his companion. “If the political system is clever enough to maintain that feeling, then God bless them. I have nothing to knock ’em for.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11 Outsiders conjure Politics in a hyphen