Group endorses Jasso in District 1; Margolin doesn’t seek support
The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance this week endorsed 10 candidates for Dallas City Council and two for the Board of Trustees at Dallas County Schools in May 9 municipal elections.
Fourteen of 36 candidates in 11 contested City Council races sought DGLA’s endorsement this year, filling out questionnaires and conducting interviews with the organization’s political action committee.
DGLA also endorsed three unopposed City Council incumbents who’d completed the screening process in previous years.
Damien Duckett, chairman of the PAC, said he’s pleased with DGLA’s slate of candidates for 2009, which marked 32 years of endorsements for the nonpartisan organization in city elections.
"I think it’s a really viable group of dedicated individuals who will work very hard for their districts and their city as a whole, and will represent the GLBT community in Dallas with great vigor," Duckett said. "I think it’s very important, especially whenever we have no GLBT representation currently on the council, to make sure we’re packing it full of people who are supportive of our issues."
In addition to the 14 candidates who sought DGLA’s endorsement, three began the screening process but didn’t complete it, one completed the process but didn’t seek the endorsement, and 22 didn’t respond at all.
The candidate who completed the process but didn’t seek DGLA’s endorsement was Ann Margolin. Margolin is in a high-profile, big-money race against Brint Ryan in District 13 for the seat currently held by Mitchell Rasansky.
Rasansky, who’s never been a strong supporter of the LGBT community, is term-limited.
Ryan didn’t respond at all to DGLA, which sent endorsement packets to the candidates by certified mail and e-mail, before following up by e-mail and phone.
"She [Margolin] was nervous about seeking our endorsement because she didn’t want her opponent to be able to use it against her," Duckett said. "The fact that [Ryan] did not respond at all to our endorsement packet and she did, I think speaks volumes in and of itself. I feel like she would at least be a supporter on our issues, where Brint Ryan would not be a supporter at all, if I had to guess."
In the race for the other open seat on the council, DGLA endorsed city Parks and Recreation Board member Delia Jasso in District 1, where five candidates are vying to replace Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Elba Garcia. Garcia, one of the LGBT community’s staunchest allies on the council, is also term-limited.
Three of the five candidates from District 1 sought DGLA’s endorsement, including Daniel Benchot, the only openly LGBT person running for council this year. But Duckett said DGLA never considered Benchot a viable candidate.
Patti Fink, president of DGLA, said sexual orientation doesn’t become a factor in the organization’s endorsement process unless all other things are equal.
"She has a strong history of service to the city, and she’s well placed, in terms of support and funding, to definitely make it into the runoff," Fink said of Jasso. "She’s a strong supporter and intends to be a strong advocate for us on the City Council should she be elected."
In Districts 11, 12 and 14, DGLA endorsed unopposed incumbents Linda Koop, Ron Natinsky and Angela Hunt, respectively. DGLA also endorsed four incumbents who are facing challengers: Pauline Medrano (District 2), Dave Neumann (District 3), Steve Salazar (District 6) and Sheffie Kadane (District 9).
In Districts 4, 8 and 10, DGLA didn’t make endorsements because no candidates responded. Those seats are occupied by incumbents Dwaine Caraway, Tennell Atkins and Jerry Allen, respectively, who all face challengers in their bids for re-election.
Caraway, Atkins and Allen didn’t respond to DGLA during their races in 2007, either.
Also not responding for a second straight election cycle were District 5 incumbent Vonciel Jones Hill and District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis. In District 5, DGLA endorsed challenger Don Robinson, the only one of four candidates who responded. In District 7, DGLA endorsed challenger Anthony Rios, one of two who responded in an eight-candidate field.
Fink said when candidates don’t respond to DGLA, it typically means they don’t support the LGBT community or, as is often the case with newcomers, they’re overwhelmed by the time commitment associated with running for council.
"We would love to have all of them respond, and maybe a few cycles down the road, we will," Fink said. "I was very disappointed but not surprised that we didn’t get greater responses from some of the southern districts."
In the Dallas County Schools races, DGLA endorsed Larry Duncan and Cassandra Gandara, who are among four candidates vying for two seats in an at-large race.
Dallas County Schools, with 1,700 employees, provides transportation and other services to 14 independent school districts in Dallas County.
Fink identified the Dallas County Schools race as one of the most important this year for the LGBT community, She said DGLA is working with the agency, historically led by "good old boys," to adopt a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and implement diversity training.
"I think that’s just an amazing opportunity that we have there," Fink said.
Duncan is as an incumbent whose support for the LGBT community stretches back to the early 1980s. Gandara is an out lesbian and a young Latino Dallas attorney.
"She’s qualified, she’s viable, she has everything going for her," Fink said of Gandara, "and there’s no reason she shouldn’t win this seat, and she should definitely get the votes from the LGBT community."
Fink stressed that because turnout is so low in municipal elections, the LGBT community has a chance to make an impact in all of the races.
"It’s so important for our community to step up and participate and vote in these elections," Fink said. "It’s just as important if not more important than presidential politics. They say all politics is local, and this is as local as it gets."
Early voting in municipal elections begins April 27. For times and locations, go to www.dalcoelections.org. For more information on DGLA’s endorsements, go to www.dallasgla.org.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.orgRasansky, who’s never been a strong supporter of the LGBT community, is term-limited.
Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance 2009 Endorsements
• District 1: Delia Jasso
• District 2: Pauline Medrano
• District 3: Dave Neumann
• District 4: None
• District 5: Don Robinson
• District 6: Steve Salazar
• District 7: Anthony Rios
• District 8: None
• District 9: Sheffie Kadane
• District 10: None
• District 11: Linda Koop
• District 12: Ron Natinsky
• District 13: None
• District 14: Angela Hunt
Dallas County Schools
• At-large (vote for two): Larry Duncan, Cassandra Gandara
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 17, 2009.