Filling Miller’s shoes

Posted on 16 Oct 2006 at 6:37pm
By David Webb Staff Writer

Successor to Dallas mayor will have a tough time living up to her legacy as a good friend to LGBT community

I had this great idea about exploring which candidate would best fill Mayor Laura Miller’s high heels when she leaves office in May, but she was totally uncooperative.

I sent a message to her Blackberry asking her to tell me her shoe size and name her favorite shoe designer. There was no response, so I guess she wasn’t intrigued by the idea.

I know she got the message because a few minutes earlier I had sent her a message asking if she planned to endorse anyone for mayor. “No, I’m not planning to endorse anyone at this point,” she replied.

Maybe she forgot to answer my message. Or maybe she only responds to dignified questions.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to take that information and poll the other mayoral candidates who are all men to find out what they are willing to do if the LGBT community votes for them.

Miller has set a standard since she was elected in 2002 that is going to be a tough act to follow.

She was the first candidate for mayor of Dallas to ever mention a desire to represent the gay and lesbian community in a campaign speech before the general public. Soon after she did, all of the other candidates were following suit that year.

She won that race for the unexpired term of Mayor Ron Kirk, and later another one for a full four-year term. She had the solid backing of Dallas’ LGBT community in both races.

Within months of taking office in 2002, Miller kept a campaign promise, helping push an anti-discrimination ordinance amendment through the City Council that provided protection based on sexual orientation and gender.

Then in September of 2002, she became the first mayor to make an appearance in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. A horse-drawn carriage carrying Miller, her husband and her children led the parade down Cedar Springs Road. The carriage was followed by a procession of City Council members in convertibles the largest number to ever participate.

As if that wasn’t enough, we started seeing Miller opening events like the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS Dallas Collection and the Dallas-Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner. She recently was the headline speaker at the North Texas Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. The woman has been everywhere and is glamorous to boot.

And it has not been a one-time shot on any of those events. Every year Miller has been mayor, she has made return appearances. She also is the only mayor who has ever agreed to sit down for an interview with the Dallas Voice.

Of course, it hasn’t all been candy and roses and hugs and kisses. That ordinance she pushed through in 2003 banning smoking in restaurants and other public places almost sent a number of gay and lesbian smokers over the edge.

But overall, I think, because of what Miller has done, it is going to be difficult for any candidate for mayor to ever ignore our community again.

We now have a city ordinance prohibiting anti-gay discrimination in city employment and one governing businesses and landlords city-wide. We also have a policy providing domestic partner benefits for gay municipal employees.

Except for a domestic partner registry, there’s not just a whole lot left to do on the city level. That’s a good question to ask.

My experience covering City Council elections since Miller’s election tells me most of the candidates are going to say they would likely ride in the parade and speak at big events.

That leaves the final test: Who can fill those high heels?

That remains to be seen because the mayor has refused to reveal her shoe size to me, let alone provide an old one for me to test on the candidates.

In a late-breaking development the mayor finally called and said her successor should be adept at a full-throttle pace both day and night in fashionable size 9 Medium Stuart Weitzman heels. Can you handle it, guys?

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, November 17, 2006.

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