The race for the District 14 City Council seat pitting three-term incumbent Angela Hunt against openly gay political newcomer James Nowlin has gotten down and dirty.
One of Nowlin’s supporters recently ran a full-page ad attacking Hunt in Dallas Voice (shown above), blaming the incumbent for everything from potholes on Lemmon Avenue to a loss of city funding for HIV/AIDS services. The ad, paid for by Steven Graves, also claims Hunt has been either late or absent from 80 percent of City Council meetings and that she had requested a review of council salaries in hope of getting a raise.
Then in the comments section of a Viewpoints column endorsing Hunt, Nowlin supporters took aim at Hunt, her supporters, the writer (yours truly) and anyone else who happened to stumble into the fracas. The supporters claimed Hunt had not been a strong advocate for the community and challenged anyone reading their comments to prove otherwise.
In a telephone interview today, Hunt said that she did not want to engage in a mudslinging contest with Nowlin and his supporters, but she did maintain that she has been an outspoken advocate for the community and a dedicated public servant.
“I’m proud of my record,” said Hunt, who notes that she not only shows up at community events but participates fully. “I think it is important for straight allies to have a voice and speak out in support of the community. I’ve done that. I get up on stage and speak and let my voice be heard.”
Hunt said she has spoken out publicly at meetings and protests in support of marriage equality and funding of HIV/AIDS services. The incumbent said she and District 2 Councilwoman Pauline Medrano pushed for an investigation into why 53 cases of alleged discrimination based on sexual orientation had not been investigated by city staff.
As regards her attendance at City Council meetings, Hunt said that other than two voting meetings that took place while she was on maternity leave, she had missed only two other voting meetings during the past two years. The incumbent said on most mornings before council meetings she meets with constituents rather than attend the ceremonial pledge of allegiance and opening prayer, which causes her to be counted late.
As for the Nowlin campaign’s claim that Hunt requested a review to increase council pay and term-limits, the memo in question makes no mention of either item. The memo to the city manager asks for a charter review commission, and it bears the signature of numerous council members in addition to Hunt.
Nowlin supporters have suggested that Hunt did nothing to save $325,000 for HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention services that was cut from the city’s 2009-10 budget. But a Dallas Voice story dated Oct. 2, 2009, points out that the incumbent introduced an unsuccessful budget amendment seeking to reinstate the funding.
Even though Hunt’s budget amendment failed, the city staff managed to secure a $247,000 federal grant for HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention. “This is such a relief,” Hunt told DV at the time. “I know this has been such a serious concern to the GLBT community and me and other council members who wanted to ensure that we had HIV/AIDS education and prevention funding.”
As for the potholes on Lemmon Avenue, even former Mayor Laura Miller — who became known as the “Pothole Queen” because of her campaign promises — was never able to get rid of all those headaches. Like weeds, they keep coming back, especially in bad economic times.