Openly LGBT candidates are great, but the community shouldn’t turn its back on the allies who have been there for us all along
I was surprised to learn this year that an openly gay candidate had decided to challenge Angela Hunt for the District 14 City Council seat in the Dallas municipal election on May 14.
The benefits of openly gay people serving in elected office are enormous to the LGBT community, but that goal should never cause us to abandon straight political allies who have served us well. And for her three terms on the City Council, Hunt has been a strong advocate for the LGBT community.
Like her predecessor, former Councilwoman Veletta Forsythe Lil, Hunt has been as much of a part of our community and its events as the rest of us.
With no openly gay people having served on the City Council since Ed Oakley left office to make his unsuccessful run for the mayor’s job, we would have been lost without strong advocates such as Hunt and District 2 incumbent Pauline Medrano.
I’m sure Hunt’s openly gay challenger, James Nowlin, is an admirable candidate. Otherwise, he would not have received the endorsement of Stonewall Democrats, an action that Hunt admitted “disappointed” her. An “intense” debate reportedly preceded the decision to endorse Nowlin over Hunt.
Later, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance threw its support behind Hunt and mayoral candidate Ron Natinsky, another strong LGBT advocate on the City Council, marking a striking split in the LGBT voting community. Stonewall Democrats endorsed former Dallas Chief of Police David Kunkle.
The DGLA’s decision to back Hunt makes more sense to me because of the importance of remaining loyal to good political friends and also for its practicality. Hunt probably can’t be beat in District 14 by any challenger.
If an openly gay challenger could have beat Hunt it would have happened when she ran for the seat the first time six years ago, when lesbian powerhouse Candy Marcum, through her reputation as a prominent psychologist and social stalwart, sought the office.
Marcum had enormous support in the community, but it could not propel her to victory.
It’s more of a toss-up when it comes to whether the community should vote for Kunkle or Natinsky. They both have been good friends to the LGBT community.
In the District 7 council seat race, lesbian Casie Pierce is challenging incumbent Carolyn Davis, who to the best of my knowledge has not been an LGBT advocate.
It’s true that Davis has a larger black constituency in her district to occupy her time, but that never stopped her predecessor, Leo Chaney, from giving us much of his time and consideration.
There are large numbers of LGBT people and their allies living in District 7 in the Parkdale and Pleasant Grove areas who would welcome a resident of their communities sitting on the council.
In addition to being a member of our community, Pierce has strong credentials and enjoys respect from many quarters. She has been involved for years in community work in neighborhood clean-up, public park improvements, economic development and work with at-risk teens.
Our best shot at getting an openly gay candidate on the City Council this year is Pierce, so I hope that the whole community will support her in every way possible so we can achieve that goal again.
David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.