Dallas City Councilman Omar Narvaez received and ovation and cheers twice during this morning’s (June 19) swearing-in ceremony at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Narvaez is the first openly gay person elected to Dallas City Council in a decade.
The ceremony began with each council member and a guest coming on stage as Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, announced that person’s name, district number, number of terms in office and the name and relation of the accompanying person.
Only when Narvaez entered the stage with his partner Jesse Vallejo to thunderous applause did the announcer add, “Talk about great expectations.”
Cathedral of Hope’s senior pastor Neil Cazares-Thomas delivered one of three invocations. He called for equality for all marginalized communities.
Also delivering invocations were Imam Omar Suleiman, co-chair of Faith Forward Dallas Thanksgiving Square and Father Rodolfo Garcia from the Cathedral of the Virgin Guadalupe, located across the street from the Meyerson. To close the ceremony, the Rev. Canon Charles F. Camlin dean of the Church of the Holy Communion and Rabbi Andrew Paley from the liberal North Dallas synagogue Temple Shalom.
Who was invited said as much about Dallas as who was not. Not invited was the divisive Rev. Robert Jeffress from the next closest church, First Baptist.
Before swearing-in the new city council, Mayor Mike Rawlings honored four outgoing council members. Then each of the 14 members of the new council were called to the podium to receive their Certificate of Election. That’s when Narvaez received his second ovation and a shout of “Love you Omar” from the balcony.
District Court Judge Dennise Garcia administered the oath of office.
In his Inaugural Remarks, Rawlings spoke about crises the city has faced in the past six years including the Ebola virus, last summer’s police ambush and the protests at DFW Airport and across the city after immigration stopped visitors from six countries with valid visas from entering the country two days after the Trump inauguration. Separating himself and Dallas from state and national politics, he said he couldn’t have been prouder about the way the city welcomed those who had been detained.
“This is what Dallas stands for,” Rawlings said. “Tolerance. Equality.”
Rawlings said venom has entered politics and used examples from the recently ended legislative session in Austin. In particular, he noted the bathroom bill.
“Danger doesn’t lurk in our public restrooms,” he said. “Our transgender neighbors aren’t criminals.”
He also mentioned that two weeks ago, Dallas decided to enter the lawsuit against the sanctuary cities law that could make criminals out of law enforcement, especially our police chief and sheriff.
At the end of his speech, Rawlings said he was not running for higher office, which some in the audience took as his campaign kick-off. Rawlings has been mentioned as one of the best possible opponents to face Rep. Pete Sessions, a Republican who represents part of Oak Lawn.