Quarles, now fully invested as a citizen of North Texas, originated from St. Louis, Missouri. She describes her childhood neighborhood as a “pretty tough environment”, citing a failing school district at the hands of defunded public education in the city. Because of the stress her mother placed on quality education, Quarles transitioned into a campus that took part in the “Desegregation Program”, an effort to bring minority students from surrounding communities into properly funded nearby public schools. When she started the program in 6th grade, Quarles was shocked to find out that she was standing at a 3rd-grade reading level. She faced a hard adjustment during her middle school years because of the basic learning foundation she had not received in her former school, which by that time had lost its accreditation as a campus. Quarles believes she gained an interesting perspective on community engagement and funding appropriations because of this experience, she realized that programs removing students from their home communities are unsustainable.
Quarles was first exposed to politics during a mayoral race in St. Louis, during her teenage years. Her family had never engaged in politics nor did they regularly vote, but this time, they were completely vested in the differing campaigns. It was also during this time that Quarles was impacted by her first role model: her high school English Literature teacher. Quarles recounted that her teacher, though inspirational, was always tough on her, especially when it came to attending college. Quarles hadn’t planned on attending college up until this point; her English teacher impressed upon her the importance of making undergraduate education a viable option. Quarles now has her Bachelor’s degree from Missouri Western State University and a Master’s degree from Webster University.
Quarles decided that she wanted to run for office after she participated in the Urban League of Greater Dallas, a program that provides health, housing, and job opportunity services to citizens in the community. With her formal education through the organization, Quarles said she learned a lot about voting rights, healthcare, housing, and lack thereof. She said, “I always advocated for those issues before but was learning more about them at the same time.” Once settled in DeSoto, Quarles decided to reach out to her local city council representative to make a connection with the municipal government. From there, her former councilmember, who is now Mayor of DeSoto (and one of the only female mayors in Texas), vacated her seat, allowing for Quarles to run for office in 2016. It was her first time running for any position in public office.
During her time, thus far, on the city council, Quarles has risen as a strong advocate for incoming generations in the DeSoto community. She has used her status as an elected official to spearhead the “DeSoto Works!” job fair in 2017 which presented 60+ local employers to almost 300 citizens. She crafted this event in hopes of maintaining stable jobs in DeSoto in an attempt to limit commuter populations from fleeing to Dallas proper. In addition to her quest for job opportunities, Quarles also supports an expansion access to public transit in DeSoto and neighboring areas of South Dallas. She believes that citizens should receive access to necessities including grocery stores and hospitals without relying on a personal vehicle. Finally, Quarles fights for affordable housing in her community. She hopes that this trifecta of policy will introduce more stable opportunities for DeSoto citizens of a younger generation.
As a candidate and current city councilmember, Quarles has found that her favorite resources tend to be in the format of formal educational training. She highly encourages folks who are interested in running for office to check out Battleground Texas, an entity that trains citizens to block walk, fundraise, and field organize. She also advocates Democratic candidates to receive training from the White House Project, Project LIFT, Annie’s List, and Dallas County Democratic Party. Additionally, she follows inspiring advice blogs from entities such as She Should Run and EMERGE America.
When asked for advice, Quarles stated that “women and men have to mentor more women. We need to help usher [women] into office.” She says that women have the knowledge and skills to run for office but often lack confidence when the time comes to file. As a mother of an 18-month-old daughter, Quarles found it imperative to run for office when she did; it was important to her that her daughter sees a powerful woman in elected office.
Candice Quarles is currently running for re-election for DeSoto City Council Place 6.