Meyer takes on anti-gay incumbent Hill in District 3

Posted on 03 May 2013 at 11:45am
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Claudia Meyer

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

Claudia Meyer jumped into the District 3 race near the deadline when, she said, neighbors came together hoping for representation for the area.

Meyer is challenging South Dallas District 5 incumbent Vonciel Jones Hill, who’s home was redrawn into the Southwest Dallas District 3, retaining only about 20 percent of her former constituents. Meyer calls Hill an embarrassment to the city.

In a City Council debate on City Manager Mary Suhm, Hill compared Councilwoman Angela Hunt to Haman, the most hated figure in the Jewish Bible whose name is drowned out with noisemakers when spoken in synagogues. And she compared Suhm to Jesus.

Hill has refused to participate in the Dallas gay Pride parade and also refuses to even sign a letter welcoming LGBT visitors to the city. Hill is the long sitting council member who has refused to appear at Pride.

In a 2010 interview with Dallas Voice, Hill explained her position:

“I won’t be participating [this year], and based on my present beliefs, I won’t be participating in the future,” Hill said. “There’s no reason I should be castigated for that.”

Asked what those beliefs are, Hill said: “I believe that all people are loved by God, all people are created equal under God, but there are acts that God does not bless. It does not mean the person is any less God’s child. I’m entitled to stand for what I believe, and I don’t appreciate anyone castigating me for standing for what I believe.”

Meyer, who received the endorsement of both Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and Stonewall Democrats, said she’s lost some support of her fundamentalist neighbors but comes by her LGBT support naturally.

Her next door neighbors are gay and she said she and her husband share Saturday game night with them regularly.

She addresses the issue of sexual orientation on the front page of her website as one of three reasons she’s running — gas drilling in Dallas, trust and transparency in government and diversity and tolerance.

She said her answer to a question in the Dallas Voice candidate questionnaire probably best describes how she lives her life.

“The GLBT community would be an equal and critical partner in my approach to how City Hall should and must move forward during my term in office,” she wrote.

Fracking is the issue that propelled her into the race. Hill is in favor of it and received the Citizens Council endorsement for it. Meyer has been endorsed by Downwinders at Risk, a group that opposes urban drilling that also supports Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Leland Burk and Philip Kingston.

Meyer opposes the Trinity Toll Road because of concerns of escalating costs. She noted the current estimate of $1.5 billion.

“That’s the annual Dallas city budget,” she said.

She backs Griggs’ plan to rebuild I-35 and the Mixmaster, which would move more cars at half the construction cost.

But neighborhoods are her passion.

“Quality of life,” she said is what she hears as she goes door to door. “Responsible development.”

Meyer is the first person from the Mountain Creek area to run for office. That far southwest Dallas neighborhood has less than 3,000 homes.

Kiestwood Neighborhood Association President Raymond Crawford said he’s known Meyer for about three years and worked with her on the gas drilling issue.

“She owes no one anything,” he said. “She believes in equality and she’s in it to do the right thing.”

Roger Bolen chaired Oak Cliff’s Earth Day celebration and lives in District 3.

“Claudia has been in the trenches helping to keep the environment from being destroyed — cutting down trees, fracking, large tract commercial distribution centers with no landscaping,” Bolen said.

“In all the forums I have attended, Ms. Hill was very good at pontificating and proclaiming her love of God and doing things in God’s honor but the only thing I heard was Vonciel talking about Vonciel.”

Although Meyer acknowledges she has an uphill climb to beat an incumbent, District 3 is the only council district that has turned an incumbent out of office since the current 14-1 council configuration began in 1993.

In 2011, Scott Griggs trounced incumbent Dave Neumann, and in 2003, Ed Oakley beat incumbent Mark Housewright in a similar fight after redistricting.

Among the candidates, Meyer has raised the most money. In her financial report filed in April, Meyer had $30,000 in contributions. Hill raised $7,000. Two other candidates are Kermit Mitchell with about $4,000 and Michael Connally who reported $200.

With the most money on hand, Meyer has campaign signs throughout the district. Just this week, Hill’s signs began appearing — some placed directly in front of a Meyer sign, whether on private property or public.

In the last election, Neumann’s campaign placed unwanted signs in front of houses throughout District 3. Within a week, many of those signs were replaced with signs for the challenger and Griggs went on to win the election.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 3, 2013.

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