Former Dallas police chief and current mayoral candidate David Kunkle spoke briefly during a Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meeting at Ojeda’s on Tuesday night.
The most interesting thing Kunkle said during his two-and-a-half minute remarks, in my estimation, is that he’d be the city’s first mayor “probably since the ’70s who lives in a real Dallas neighborhood.”
“I live a block and half off Greenville Avenue, right off an entertainment district, in homes that were built in the mid-1920s generally, so I understand city services and some of the problems with them,” Kunkle said.
I’ve posted video of Kunkle’s speech in its entirety above, and as you can see he didn’t specifically address LGBT issues. But I did manage to hit Kunkle up for a few questions both before and after. (He didn’t take questions from the audience after speaking.)
The first question I asked Kunkle had to do with the Police Department’s recent heavy-handed recent raid of a gay bathhouse — which occurred after he stepped down as chief. But Kunkle said he didn’t want to comment about the raid on the record. Fair enough.
We talked briefly about the fact that Kunkle runs marathons, and I told him a lot of gays can probably relate to that type of physical fitness. Kunkle mentioned that he also likes Banana Republic clothing, and I told him his gay cred had just gone through the roof.
Later, on a more serious note, I asked Kunkle what he can point to from his law enforcement career that demonstrates his support for the LGBT community.
“I’ve always respected the dignity of all people,” Kunkle said. “I’ve met with the groups, listened to their concerns and made changes …”
Kunkle added that he always “promoted a style of policing that respected the dignity of all people.”
Asked what he would do to support the community if elected mayor, Kunkle said: “I would listen to what the concerns are. … I’m good at listening.” He also mentioned “maintaining the vitality of Cedar Springs” but said he isn’t aware of specific LGBT-related policy issues that need to be addressed.
Kunkle said his “inclusive” record as police chief should override any potential concerns among LGBT voters that he comes from a conservative profession. He said he’s highly regarded by African-American civil rights leaders in the city, and as police chief he would often visit a group like Stonewall Democrats one night, then a conservative Republican organization the next.
Which led us to the subject of Kunkle’s party affiliation. Although city elections are nonpartisan, candidates’ primary voting records always come up in the mayor’s race. Kunkle told me he’s been referred to as a “3-D candidate,” which apparently means that he’s voted in three Democratic primaries since he became Dallas police chief. Before that, Kunkle said he voted in Republican primaries while serving as a deputy city manager in Arlington, because that was the only way to be involved in the political process in the GOP-dominated area.
Finally, I broke down and popped the question. Even though it’s not a city issue, I asked Kunkle whether he supports same-sex marriage. “I respect the dignity of all people,” Kunkle responded, adding that he wasn’t going to give me a yes-or-no answer.
And that’s when Kunkle’s campaign manager told me to “wrap it up.”