Voters will choose between two candidates for the District 3 seat on Tyler City Council in May.
Shirley McKellar and Dalila Reynoso filed for the council seat. Incumbent McKellar was among the first to announce her re-run.
A Tyler native, McKellar has held her seat as District 3 councilwoman since 2019.
McKellar received her undergraduate degree at Texas Woman’s University, where she studied nursing and chemistry, and earned her Master’s degree from University of Texas with honors in community health nursing, criminal justice and organizational speech communications.
She received her doctorate in nursing and healthcare management from Columbus University.
McKellar served in the US Army and is an Iraq War veteran. McKellar said she’s an advocate for the Black community, community policing, social justice issues, citizens with disabilities and more.
“I know that it takes a little bit of time to hold an office in order to accomplish all the goals and objectives that you have for the seat. I know how important it is to have experience, have education and hard work is an incredible impact that you have to have in order to make sure that you accomplish those goals. These things are important for a person to have to be a leader,” McKellar said. “My ancestors thought that Black people would have a voice in this community, so that area encompasses north Tyler, where Black people live, they wanted to make sure that we had what everybody else in the city of Tyler was experiencing, and that was equity and equality, meaning that we have the opportunities and we have the resources as well, so that is one of the reasons why I continue on in this fight.”
McKellar said when she returned home from the military in 2009, north Tyler had digressed and looked the same as it did when she left.
“I saw growth in other areas of the city, but I didn’t see the growth at the level that I thought it should be in north Tyler and northwest Tyler. Supermarkets that used to be here are no longer here, parents were dying out and the children were not taking care of the properties, so the properties were going down,” McKellar said.
As a result, the city began working toward affordable housing, but McKellar said she does not want people to think of north Tyler as a low-income district.
“I want to make sure that when I leave city council, after my terms are up, that north Tyler, northwest Tyler District 3, does not look the same it did as I came in. I want that growth that the prior councilmembers that have held that position worked for and that I will continue to carry that growth and move up to the next level,” McKellar said.
McKellar said she wants to take Tyler to the next level and she wants to educate her community about what steps to take if their problems are not solved.
Another one of McKellar’s goals is to educate the community about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Many of the people of color were a little suspicious about taking the vaccine because of prior experiences,” she said. McKellar mentioned the Tuskegee syphilis trials, where Black participants experienced severe health problems, including blindness, mental impairment or death. The participants were recruited by the promise of free medical care.
Reynoso ran in the last city election in 2019 and was 40 votes short of a runoff with McKellar. Reynoso will be running again for Tyler’s District 3 council seat. Reynoso is a first generation Mexican-American and mother of two. A Tyler native, Reynoso said she is committed to serving her community in north Tyler.
Reynoso is an advocate for survivors of violence, people struggling with addiction and mental health, and those discriminated against, such as immigrant neighbors.
“I will be a tireless fighter for every person in my district,” she said. “A main reason I am running again is because no candidate has ever come knocking on my door to ask me what I need or care most about. I plan to do this in my campaign. Just like last cycle, I will be safely knocking on doors and hosting virtual conversations with my community to listen to their needs.”
Reynoso said she is running on a platform of transparency and accountability. Committed to building a city council that works for the people of north Tyler, Reynoso said she will ensure community members have a real voice in how their taxpayer dollars are spent and that residents of District 3 will see a return on their investment regarding quality of life and public safety.
Reynoso said she knows first hand how desperately public services are needed in the community, a desperation made all the more severe by the global pandemic. She said she will work tirelessly to expand access to housing, behavioral and mental health resources and critical public health infrastructure so that Tyler’s most vulnerable neighbors can get back on their feet. Reynoso said she is eager to roll up her sleeves and get to work for all of north Tyler.
Early voting will begin April 19 through 27, and election day is May 1.