Former City Council member says low voter turnout, opponent’s deep pockets affected outcome
Two gay candidates lost in the May 13 local elections.
Chris Luna, a former Dallas City Council member, came in second in the Dallas County Community College District trustees election, and Linus Spiller, a community activist, was beat in the Dallas Independent School District trustees election.
Luna, who is a business lawyer, took only 32 percent of the vote, compared to J.L. “Sonny” Williams, who won the race with 56 percent of the vote.
Luna said in an interview this week he attributed his loss to being outspent by his opponent, who is president of Momentum Advertising, and to a low voter turnout. Only 4,981 of the district’s 144,000 registered voters turned out at the polls about 3.5 percent, he noted.
“It was a horrible turnout,” Luna said.
Luna said Williams, who was the former president of the Minyard’s food store chain and a part-owner of the Mavericks, was able to spend more money on mailers, campaign signs and telephone calls to voters.
“He is a millionaire who set out to spend as much money as it took to win, and he did,” Luna said. “He had a pot of cash, and he spent it.”
Four people vied for the community college district seat left vacant by longtime trustee Pattie Powell, who stepped down after four terms.
Luna said he had wanted to join the board because of his strong interest in the community college system and his dedication to public service. Luna has taught part-time at El Centro and Richland colleges.
Luna said his loss has not deterred him from public service, and at some point he plans to run again for elected office.
He left the City Council in 1997 after three terms at the age of 30. He is now 45.
“I think I have at least one good race left in me,” Luna said. “I really don’t think that my biological clock is ticking so that I’ve got to do something right away.”
Luna said he is philosophical about his loss.
“I really do believe there is a purpose for everything,” Luna said.
“If it’s not meant to be, I’ll wait for the next opportunity.”
Spiller, who ran unsuccessfully for the City Council in District 6 in 2003 and 2005, lost by a hefty margin to Edwin Flores, the incumbent in the Dallas school district’s District 1 trustee seat. Spiller received 26 percent of the 1,623 votes cast, compared to Flores, who won with 74 percent in the two-man race.
Spiller said he was running for the school board because he wanted to take an active role in helping turn around the school district’s low-test scores and low-performing southern sector campuses, according to the 2006 voter guide.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 19, 2006.