Gay City Council member will officially kick off campaign Saturday with door-to-door effort
Gay Oak Cliff Councilman Ed Oakley will formally announce his candidacy for the city’s top job in a ceremony at his campaign office on Saturday morning, Dec. 16.
Oakley, who is serving in his third term on the City Council, said his campaign for mayor will kick off after the ceremony as he and volunteers spend the day knocking on doors seeking support.
“This is going to be a door-to-door campaign,” Oakley said. “We’re going to take this mayor’s seat back to the people. It’s going to be a grassroots campaign, and we’re going to start early.”
Oakley said he is appealing to volunteers who want to help him get elected to come and join the effort on Saturday.
“It depends on how many people show up, but we’re prepared to go all over the city,” Oakley said.
Oakley said he is confident his odds for winning the mayor’s race are strong.
“I’m a southern sector candidate,” Oakley said. “I’m the only viable one that has the ability to pull the southern sector together. With four or five candidates in the north, I end up in a runoff. When you take your pick of those, I think I win. I obviously wouldn’t be getting in the race if I didn’t think I could win.”
His strategy of running a grassroots campaign for mayor is a unique one, Oakley said.
“Going door-to-door typically isn’t done in a mayor’s race,” Oakley said. “They show up, hand out literature and do mailings and then get on TV.”
Oakley said the challenge is making sure he has enough money to be a viable candidate. He said pledges of $1.25 million already have been made to him.
And the name recognition factor works in his favor, Oakley added.
“I have very high name recognition,” Oakley said. “I will have to spend a whole lot less money than my opponents. All of the opponents in the race are going to have to build their name recognition.
“They are going to have to spend about $1.5 million just to be where I am in the ratings. Then they have to continue to build. I feel real good about it.”
Candidates who are either expected to run or are considering a run include former airline executive Sam Coats, magazine editor Zac Crain, lawyer Roger Herrera, lawyer Darrell Jordan, businessman Tom Leppert, former Mayor Pro Tem Max Wells and City Council members Gary Griffith, Don Hill and Mitchell Rasansky. Herrera is the only other gay candidate.
Oakley said he believes his sexual orientation will be a non-issue. If the race gets nasty, Oakley said he believes his opponents will have a difficult time finding anything to mar his name.
“Everybody has skeletons in their closet as they say, but I don’t,” Oakley said. “I live my life the way I was raised. I treat people the way I want to be treated.”
Oakley notes he has lived in Dallas for 25 years, running a construction company and serving in public office.
“If you go to the courthouse you will find that no one has ever filed a suit against me or my construction company,” Oakley said. “I’ve never had anything filed against me with the Better Business Bureau. I’ve never been arrested. The last speeding ticket I had was probably 10 years ago.”
Oakley noted that Mayor Laura Miller, who is not running for re-election, was the first mayor to be elected who was not blessed by the Dallas Citizens Council, a group composed of the city’s top business leaders.
“I think that era has passed,” Oakley said. “Laura demonstrated that, and I think I can follow in those footsteps.”
Oakley said part of his strength as a candidate comes from his reputation as a coalition builder.
“I’ve been called the de facto mayor on the council because I go and sit down and work through the issues with the individual council members and try to build a consensus,” Oakley said.
“If I can do that sitting on the end of the horseshoe, think of what I can do in the middle of the horseshoe.”
Oakley’s campaign headquarters are located at 1805 Market Center Blvd. His announcement will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 16. New political volunteers will be registered at the event.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 15, 2006