Mayor’s race will feature colorful slate

Posted on 11 Jan 2007 at 7:36pm
By David Webb Staff Writer

18 now poised to wage campaigns for top job

Eighteen candidates have already appointed treasurers for their mayoral campaigns, and the deadline for filing to run for Dallas’ top elected seat is still another eight weeks away.

The field may become more crowded in the next month, but I doubt that it could become more diverse. We now have everyone from a self-identified transgender woman with a general delivery address to an assortment of wealthy businessmen and professionals from North Dallas running.

Longtime political consultant Pat Cotton said this week that she cannot remember the mayor’s race ever before attracting so many colorful candidates. The hopefuls also include a perennial candidate, a youngish magazine editor and past and present elected officials not to mention a gay political newcomer who was convicted of shooting off a gun on Mexican Independence Day in 2002.

“I don’t know if it is a dissatisfaction with the Council as whole or what,” Cotton said. “It may be just the phase of the moon or something. It’s an interesting bunch.”

I personally think politics might sometimes make more sense to everyone if the process was governed by the position of the moon and the stars. You never know what’s going to happen when a bunch of politicians in the heat of battle start trying to figure out how to outsmart each other.

City Councilman Ed Oakley, the candidate the LGBT community is expected to watch most closely, kicked his campaign into high gear before Christmas in an effort to get ahead in the game. He and his volunteers have been walking door-to-door in neighborhoods citywide.

The gay councilman from Oak Cliff said his task would have been easier had fellow Councilman Don Hill, also of South Dallas, not entered the race. But Oakley remains optimistic. Residents of Hill’s precinct have greeted him warmly during his campaigning, he said.

“It all comes down to your track record and how well they know you and what you’ve delivered,” Oakley said. “I’ve got a good track record in my district.

Oakley said his district is diverse, and other minorities relate to him well.

“I have a great record of working with people of all ethnicities,” Oakley said. “That’s one of the assets of growing up and being openly gay you are more sensitive to all of this.”

Oakley said he is counting on taking the southern sector and winding up in a runoff with someone from the north. There are so many candidates in the north running that the vote will be widely distributed among them, he said.

“With Hill in the race, it really doesn’t change my strategy,” Oakley said. “This is going to be a grassroots campaign for me.”

Oakley said he suspects that he will be the only mayoral candidate running a grassroots campaign. Recent mayoral races have been dominated by television advertising, the mailing of campaign literature and appearances at events, he noted.

Fortunately for the voters, when Election Day rolls around, the number of candidates to actually appear on the ballot is expected to dwindle.

When everything shakes out, only about seven of the current 18 candidates are expected to be viable ones, Cotton said. Mayoral candidates must collect the signatures of 473 registered voters to be placed on the ballot, and that takes some doing, she said.

“That’s going to weed out a bunch of people,” Cotton said.

No matter how many candidates wind up on the ballot, it’s going to be an interesting even entertaining race. That’s because tempers are bound to flare, and the candidates will become more cranky and aggressive as Election Day nears.

“Some of it will get ugly,” Cotton said. “It will depend on their character as to whether they go on the issues or whether they go on personalities and personal behavior.”

And the way things are shaping up, it looks like there could be a lot for the candidates to work with in that last regard.

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, January 12, 2006.

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