Mike Rawlings came to Dallas in 1976 with a couple hundred dollars in his pocket and plans to work as a radio reporter. He didn't think he'd stay long. But over the next four decades, Rawlings proved that Dallas is truly a city of opportunity.
Today, Mike Rawlings is the 61st mayor of Dallas and the longest-serving mayor in more than 45 years. During his time in office, he has focused on spurring economic development in the long-overlooked southern portion of Dallas through his GrowSouth initiative, improving public education, combatting poverty and domestic violence, developing parks, elevating the city's international profile and turning Dallas into a top destination for artists, young professionals, families and corporations.
A Borger, Texas, native and proud Boston College graduate, Mayor Rawlings worked his way up from an entry-level position at TracyLocke, then the largest advertising agency in the South, to become the CEO. Later, he took the helm of the world's largest pizza company, Pizza Hut, and grew it to record sales. He previously served as Chairman and Managing Partner of private equity firm CIC Partners, where he is currently the vice chairman.
During the seven years that Mayor Rawlings has led the ninth-largest city in America, Dallas has experienced tremendous economic growth. The city’s labor force has grown every year since Rawlings took office and unemployment was reported to be 3.3 percent as of December 2017, the 34th consecutive month that Dallas outperformed the national and state unemployment rate. New building permit valuations reached a minimum of $2 billion annually in the past six fiscal years and at least $4 billion in each of the last three fiscal years. The city’s property tax base value rose more than 7 percent in the current fiscal year to $118.3 billion, from $110.4 billion the prior year.
The success is not confined to one area of the city, as the mayor’s GrowSouth initiative has led to major progress in southern Dallas. For the first time since the initiative launched, the growth in taxable value in southern Dallas outpaced that of northern Dallas in 2016. Since 2012, real property values increased nearly 44 percent in southern Dallas and annual residential investment topped $163 million.
Mayor Rawlings also continues to keep Dallas in the national and international spotlight, serving as an executive committee member for the U.S. Conference of Mayor and traveling the globe as a member of the DFW Airport Board of Directors.
Public service has long been important to Mayor Rawlings. In the years before his 2011 election as mayor, he served as the Chair of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau (VisitDallas), the city's Homeless Czar and president of the Dallas Park Board. Voters re-elected Mayor Rawlings by a wide margin in 2015 to his second and final four-year term, which runs through June 2019.
Rawlings and his wife, Micki, live in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas. Their daughter, Michelle, an artist, and their son, Gunnar, and his wife, Gaby, also live in Dallas.