Monty Bennett, a hospitality industry leader and publisher of The Dallas Express, got personal on a recent episode of The Dallas Express Podcast, explaining what drives him to be unafraid of ruffling feathers in order to see meaningful change in Dallas.

As Bennett explained to his wife and the podcast’s host, Sarah Zubiate-Bennett, his quest to improve Dallas includes advocating for higher-quality schools and the bolstering of public safety.

“I have been fortunate enough in my life to make some good money, and COVID was really a big wake-up call for me,” Bennett said. “It absolutely devastated my business. People that I’ve worked with and worked for me for three decades I’ve had to lay off, and we are still recovering from that.”

Bennett noted that his faith inspired his call to service.

“I decided in that period that I wanted to take my faith a lot more seriously,” he continued. “To devote more time to my faith and to focus more on my family and to focus more on my community because I’ve been blessed financially.”

To this end, Bennett founded The Dallas Express with his wife. The couple also became involved in at least a dozen local initiatives, including the Dallas Education Collective and the S.M. Wright Foundation.

Recently, the couple awarded the Monty J. and Sarah Z. Bennett Dallas ISD Scholarship, each worth $5,000, to five high school seniors graduating from Dallas ISD, as previously covered by DX. Dallas Bright Futures, another non-profit entity the Bennetts are involved with, issued the scholarships.

“What better use of my time and talent, such as it is, and money than helping the community around me and around us,” he said.

While mentioning his tremendous regard for figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Bennett underscored how his motivation to bring about change in Dallas resides closer to home: his children.

“I love our four kids; they are just adorable,” Bennett said. “They’re three 11-year-olds and an eight-year-old, and they’re just precious to me. I love them very much.”

Bennett explained how he and his wife keep pictures of their children off of social media due to the death threats they’ve received.

“Growing up is hard enough, so why expose them to that,” he explained.

Bennett said he is passionate about addressing the troubles he sees in the city. Such passion, however, has drawn harsh criticism.

“You’re so down to earth, but you’ve been nailed to the cross a good amount these days, especially after you recently spoke at the [Downtown] Dallas Inc. luncheon,” Zubiate-Bennett said. “It’s that authentic version of you that manages to piss off a lot of people.”

Zubiate-Bennett was referring to Bennett’s remarks at the Omni Dallas Hotel earlier this year, during which he highlighted the opportunities Dallas has missed out on because of the rampant vagrancy, homelessness, and crime in Downtown Dallas. He shared that employees of his company, Ashford Inc., did not want him to move his business operations downtown because they were too afraid of the neighborhood.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, monthly comparative studies conducted by the Metroplex Civic & Business Association show that criminal activity in Downtown Dallas far outpaces that found in Fort Worth’s city center.

While the Dallas Police Department has been laboring under a significant staffing shortage, a specialized police unit and private security teams patrol Fort Worth’s downtown area. Although City leaders recommended a force of around 4,000 officers in a prior report looking at public safety needs by population, DPD fields only around 3,000 officers.

DPD also falls short in terms of funding compared to other high-crime jurisdictions. New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago leaders have allocated far higher sums to police than the Dallas City Council, which approved a DPD budget of just $654 million this fiscal year.

“You would have thought that I told the king that he had no clothes,” Bennett recalled to Zubiate-Bennett. “Former mayors lined up to dress me down over having the temerity of saying something.”

“And it’s really kind of interesting because, look, when you communicate truths, you have to do it kindly,” he said. “And I believe I did, and I haven’t had anybody tell me otherwise at that luncheon, but it might go to show why things aren’t improving … you have City leaders [who won’t] even admit to what everyone knows.”

Bennett stressed that The Dallas Express was launched to cut through the mistruths and address the core issues affecting Dallas residents. To sign up for DX‘s free newsletter, please look HERE. To learn more about DX‘s new donor membership levels, incentives, and upcoming events, please look HERE.