Openly gay former Dallas city councilman isn’t going after his old seat but may make another bid for mayor if Leppert steps down
Ed Oakley confirmed this week that he doesn’t plan to run for his old seat on the Dallas City Council in 2009.
But Oakley said he wouldn’t rule out running for mayor again if Tom Leppert steps down to run for another office or opts not to seek re-election in 2011.
Since the summer, Oakley has been considering a run for the District 3 seat on the City Council, which he vacated to run for mayor in 2007.
Oakley, who would’ve been the first openly gay person elected mayor of a top 10 U.S. city, lost to Leppert in a runoff.
Oakley, 56, said that after a lot of soul-searching, he’s opted not to run in 2009 against incumbent Councilman Dave Neumann, who won the District 3 seat in 2007.
"I just decided that I have better things to do. I’ve spent 15 years down at City Hall, and I just decided that I didn’t want to get back into it unless I was going to be running for mayor," Oakley said Tuesday, Dec. 23 from Thailand, where he is vacationing for the holidays. "I just don’t see going back and doing that. Been there, done that."
Oakley also said doesn’t plan to run for county or state office in 2010, because he prefers nonpartisan politics.
Instead, he said he’ll focus on running his construction company, which recently remodeled Sue Ellen’s and Throckmorton Mining Company, and will be completing a facelift to J.R.’s after the holidays.
Oakley is also incoming chairman of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce and serves on other local volunteer boards and committees, including the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.
"If the ability to run for mayor came up in the next couple of years, I’d have to take a real hard second look at it," Oakley said. "That I would take a very hard look at, and I could win that this time around."
Chris Heinbaugh, Leppert’s openly gay chief of staff, said Tuesday, Dec. 23 that Leppert has created a re-election fundraising account but hasn’t made a decision about whether to run again. Also Tuesday, rumors surfaced that Leppert would run for U.S. Senate in 2010, which would require him to step down as mayor. But in an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Leppert downplayed the rumors.
Oakley said he’ll apply the $50,000 he’s raised over the last several months for a possible City Council campaign to things like retiring debt from other races. But he said he hasn’t decided whether to close his campaign account.
Oakley’s decision not to run reduces the chances that an openly LGBT person will be elected to the council in 2009. There was at least one openly gay member of the council for 14 consecutive years until Oakley left office.
Joseph Hernandez, an openly gay candidate who lost in a runoff to Neumann in 2007, said he doesn’t plan to run for City Council again in 2009. Tim McMullen Sullivan, a former president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, had been rumored as a possible candidate in District 13, where Councilman Mitchell Rasansky is term limited. But McMullen Sullivan said he’s decided not to run.
Patti Fink, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said she isn’t aware of any other openly LGBT candidates who plan to run for one of 14 seats on the council next year. Fink also said she was surprised to learn that Oakley isn’t running. She added that she hopes he’ll get back into politics someday.
"I think he’s an incredibly astute public servant," Fink said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 26, 2008.