5/6/1997 - 5/3/2003

Elzie OdomElzie Odom was elected mayor of Arlington on May 3, 1997. He was first elected to the Arlington City Council in 1990 after serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Born in Burkeville, Texas, on May 10, 1929, Elzie Odom grew up in Newton County and attended Prairie View A&M University before choosing a career with the U.S. Postal Service.

In 1967, Elzie Odom was appointed U.S. Postal Inspector, becoming the fifth African-American in the nation to hold this position. He and his family lived in Los Angeles and San Antonio before accepting an opportunity to make Arlington their home in 1979, when he was assigned to the Dallas office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

In 1987, Odom retired from the Postal Service and launched a bid for public office in Arlington. In 1990, he became the first African-American to be elected to the Arlington City Council, winning a runoff election by only 16 votes.

Vignette Hall of Mayors Elzie Odom 02As a member of the Council, Elzie Odom worked on redistricting, transportation and mobility issues as well as economic development initiatives to keep the Texas Rangers Baseball Club and the General Motors Automobile Assembly Plant in Arlington. As a three-term Mayor, he led successful efforts for continued growth and success.

Nowhere was the growth of Arlington more evident than in its schools. Opportunities in higher education were expanding as the new Tarrant County College Southeast campus opened in 1995 and UT-Arlington approached its 100-year anniversary.

During his tenure as mayor, Arlington also saw a renewed interest in the revitalization of downtown with the arrival of theater and arts.

Elzie Odom was mayor when the Arlington taxpayers paid off the Ballpark in 2001, nearly 10 years ahead of the scheduled payoff date.

Following the bond payoff, he engaged in talks with Jerry Jones and other city leaders for a new Cowboys Stadium to be built in Arlington.

Vignette Hall of Mayors Elzie Odom 03As mayor, Odom led continued efforts to ensure better streets for Arlington residents. The city of Arlington created the street maintenance sales tax program, and Arlington voters went to the polls in 2002 and overwhelmingly approved this new funding mechanism for ongoing street repairs.

Odom worked to increase diversity on city boards and commissions through his active participation with Asian and Hispanic organizations, as well as the Arlington Branch of the NAACP and U.S. Conference of Black Mayors.

Vignette Hall of Mayors Elzie Odom 04Elzie Odom was a champion for Arlington youth. During his six years as mayor, he never turned down an invitation from a school or youth group. During the winter break, he hosted “Meet the Mayor” visits for school children in his office.

He supported programs for people with disabilities and hosted events at senior recreation centers to engage seniors in dialogue about important issues. At Christmas time, he organized the senior holiday luncheon in a partnership with local businesses and area schools.

Elzie Odom was known for his friendly, open-door, no-appointment-necessary policy that welcomed people of all ages to City Hall.

Vignette Hall of Mayors Elzie Odom 05In 2003, Odom retired from Arlington city government after 14 years of dedicated service.

In Arlington, a number of scholarships have been established for youth as a legacy to his service. In 1999, a north Arlington athletic complex opened at 1601 N.E. Green Oaks Boulevard bearing his name.

In 2004, Odom was asked to lead a citizen-driven initiative to ensure participation of minority-and women-owned businesses in the construction of the $1.5 billion Cowboys Stadium. This program exceeded stated goals.

Today, Elzie Odom continues his involvement in the Arlington community through service on many boards including the North Central Texas Council of Governments Board of Directors, Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Tarrant County Workforce Governing Board, Arlington Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee and Super Bowl XLV Host Committee.

Vignette Hall of Mayors Elzie Odom 06Since 1979, he has been a member of the Mount Olive Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon and church treasurer.

Former Mayor Elzie Odom resides in Arlington with his wife, Ruby (former first lady). They have two adult children and six grandchildren.