2 of 3 Stonewall-backed candidates win races in DISD board elections
Dave Guy-Gainer came in second in a three-way race for the Place 3 seat on the Forest Hill City Council last Saturday, propelling him into a runoff with the top vote-getter, incumbent Gerald Joubert.
Joubert won 43 percent of the 994 votes cast in the race, while Guy-Gainer drew 34 percent. Rodney Wright finished third with 23 percent of the votes.
Guy-Gainer said earlier this week that a date for the runoff had not yet been set, but that he expected it to be set for June 12.
"That’s my birthday, too, by the way. That [winning the runoff] would be a nice present," the candidate said.
Guy-Gainer explained that the city council has to meet, after giving a 72-hour notice, to canvas the votes, certify the need for a runoff and then set the date. He said he hoped to see that meeting to be held Thursday night, May 13, but had no confirmation of that date.
Guy-Gainer said he will take time to thank those who supported him in the general election, and will then "get to work again" campaigning on what he sees as the most important issues in the small town located southeast of downtown Fort Worth.
Well known in the North Texas LGBT community for his activism on repealing the military’s anti-gay "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, Guy-Gainer said his sexual orientation had not played a role in his campaign for City Council.
And just as in the campaign leading up to the general election, the openly gay candidate said he would focus on issues important to Forest Hill in the runoff.
"There has been a lot of turmoil and in-fighting over the last five years, and that doesn’t help the city move forward," Guy-Gainer said, noting that Forest Hill has had three city managers and numerous recall votes. "We need to get over all that now and develop a focused plan that will allow the city to move forward."
He said a primary roadblock for the city has been its lack of mass transportation since the citizens voted down a proposal to join the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, known as The T, several years ago.
"We are sitting out here between Fort Worth and Arlington and Dallas, where jobs are available. But our kids can’t get those jobs because they don’t have cars and there isn’t any bus service available to get them to where the jobs are," Guy-Gainer said. "The kids can’t get to the community colleges to further their education. And it’s not just the young people. I was talking to a woman [at a senior living facility] and she told me she would love to be able to get on a bus and ‘go anywhere, just to go. It would be such a treat to be able to get out of here sometimes.’"
Guy-Gainer said the city also has to find new sources of revenue, including grants.
"Our property values have dropped 8.8 percent. We’ve got the highest tax rate of any city in Tarrant County, and we still have the lousiest streets. We’ve got to find money to fix the streets. There are all kind of things we can do to turn our economy around," he said.
Dallas ISD School Board elections
Two of the three candidates endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas in races for seats on the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees won their races in elections held last weekend.
Incumbent Lew Blackburn won re-election with 54 percent in District 5. He had earned Stonewall’s endorsement over both of his opponents, Claudia Fowler and Daphene Edmond.
In the District 7 race, Stonewall had endorsed Eric Cowan, who won the race with 62 percent of the vote. Luis Trujillo, who had also sought Stonewall’s backing, received 33 percent of the vote, while the third candidate, Olegario Estrada, received 4 percent. Estrada did not ask for the Stonewall endorsement.
The District 7 incumbent, Jerome Garza, did not run for re-election.
Incumbent Nancy Bingham received 55 percent of the votes to win re-election in District 4, defeating the Stonewall-backed candidate, Camile White, who got 32 percent of the vote and Jesse Diaz, who earned 13 percent.
Stonewall President Erin Moore said both Bingham and White had asked for the LGBT political group’s backing in the District 4 race, and that Stonewall members had voted to back White.
Still, Moore said, she believes Bingham could be an ally for the LGBT community on the school board.
"Nancy Bingham did seek our endorsement, and she did tell us she is ready and willing to work with our community," Moore said. "It was a close decision for us, and in the end we voted to endorse Camile White. But I believe Nancy Bingham is a good choice, and we intend to work with her however we can."
Moore said that having trustees on the school board who have actively sought backing from the LGBT community "opens the door and opens the dialog again" between the community and DISD officials. "That door has been closed for too long. There have certainly been inroads made by other [LGBT] organizations. But now those board members know our community is watching them. And it shows that we [Stonewall] are paying attention."
Moore said that although DISD has had an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy in place for several years, it hasn’t been adequately enforced. She said her organization intends to work with board members to remind them that "the policy is already in place and that it needs to be enforced and reinforced."
She said Stonewall also will "talk to them [school officials] about enforcing common sense practices about kids who are caught in a hostile learning environment. And if the Texas Legislature doesn’t see fit to pass laws to protect these kids, then we will be there to press the school board to step up and protect them."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 14, 2010.