Gay candidates on ballots in Dallas, Cedar Hill, Frisco; “‘whisper’ campaigns plague Oakley, Hernandez
Four LGBT candidates will be on the ballot in runoff races in three cities on Saturday, June 16.
Along with gay mayoral candidate Ed Oakley, Joseph Hernandez will be on the Dallas municipal ballot in the District 3 City Council race.
Oakley faces millionaire retired businessman Tom Leppert in a hotly contested race for mayor.
Hernandez, a community development manager who received The Dallas Morning News’ endorsement, is battling Dave Neumann, an apparel manufacturer, for the district seat that includes North Oak Cliff.
Both Oakley and Neumann have reportedly been forced to contend with “whisper campaigns” about their sexual orientation conducted by some of their opponents’ supporters. Both Leppert and Neumann have said they do not condone the anti-gay tactics that apparently are being undertaken independently of their campaigns.
Oakley has twice been the victim of hateful robo calls informing voters he is gay. In the final days before the election, the conservative Texas Eagle Forum and the Heritage Alliance backed Leppert and attempted to make an issue of Oakley’s sexual orientation.
Oakley, who is stepping down from the District 3 council seat because of his mayoral run, said he had been the victim of a whisper campaign during the first of his previous three successful council seat campaigns.
Jason Russell, a candidate for Place 5 on the Cedar Hill City Council, has experienced a similar anti-gay backlash from one of his opponent’s supporters. A letter written by the Rev. Karry D. Wesley of Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on South Hampton Road in Dallas was sent to the church’s congregation and other residents of Cedar Hill.
Russell faces Makia Epie, a 12-year incumbent in the runoff.
Wesley, who lives in Cedar Hill, warned voters that the election of Russell would “threaten and possibly destroy” the moral fiber of the community.
Russell, a bakery and caf? owner and resident of Cedar Hill since 2000, was appointed to a seat on the city’s Board of Adjustments and Appeals in 2004. He has also been on the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce and the Lion’s Club, and he was named Cedar Hill Man of the Year in 2005.
Russell said Wesley’s letter marks the first time for him to come under public attack because of his sexual orientation. He notes there are a large number of gay and lesbian people living in the city, although many are closeted.
Only in Frisco has the subject of the gay candidate’s sexual orientation apparently not become a major issue. Chris Moss, a risk management consultant, is in a runoff for Place 4 on the Frisco City Council against David Prince, who is a certified public accountant.
Moss has received the endorsement of The Dallas Morning News and the Frisco Enterprise. He currently serves on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
Moss is also president of Frisco Pride, an LGBT social organization, and a trustee of the Collin Equality Foundation.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 15, 2007.