BREAKING: Philip Kingston, Rick Callahan win Dallas City Council seats

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Dallas City Councilman-elect Philip Kingston, right, hugs outgoing Councilwoman Angela Hunt at his watch party Saturday at the Pour House. Kingston will replace Hunt, who endorsed him. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Philip Kingston narrowly defeated fellow attorney Bobby Abtahi on Saturday in a runoff between two LGBT allies for the District 14 Dallas City Council seat.

With 39 of 41 precincts reporting, Kingston has 2,339 votes, or 55 percent, to Abtahi’s 1,946 votes, or 45 percent.

Kingston will replace Councilwoman Angela Hunt, a staunch LGBT supporter who was term limited and endorsed Kingston in the race. District 14 is among the most heavily LGBT in the city and covers parts of Oak Lawn, East Dallas and downtown.

Kingston and his supporters gathered at the Pour House on Skillman. In his victory speech, Kingston thanked his all-volunteer staff and supporters for running a clean and positive race.

“Our message was issues-driven and relentlessly positive,” Kingston told Dallas Voice. “That resonated with voters in District 14.”

Abtahi and several dozen supporters waited for results at The Mason Bar in Uptown. He called Kingston after it was clear he’d lost before thanking his supporters for their hard work and faith in him throughout a long campaign.

“We started this campaign at 1 percent. That was our name ID. That’s how much of the vote we were going to get, 1 percent,” Abtahi said. “And we came back and we showed people that you could have someone from the outside, you could have someone who wasn’t endorsed by the incumbent make a run for it and we did a great job. And I appreciate all your support and now it’s time to relax.”

Kingston and Abtahi expressed strong support for the LGBT community during the campaign, with both saying they’d back a council resolution endorsing marriage equality and statewide LGBT job protections.

Kingston was criticized for his mostly Republican primary voting history and for financial contributions to conservative causes, including a PAC now affiliated with Sen. Ted Cruz and the campaign of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. However, Kingston also gave money to the campaign to defeat Texas’ marriage amendment in 2005.

Abtahi, who has a lesbian sister, was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, while Kingston had the backing of the nonpartisan Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

In the other City Council runoff, Rick Callahan defeated Jesse Diaz in the newly created District 5, which covers Pleasant Grove in southeast Dallas. Diaz was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats. In response to a Dallas Voice questionnaire, Callahan said he supports civil unions but not marriage equality, but his campaign manager later said he would support the council marriage equality resolution.

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Bobby Abtahi shakes hands with gay former Councilman Craig Holcomb at his watch party at the Mason Bar on Guillot Street in State-Thomas. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

—  John Wright

AUDIO: Tom Leppert records robocall backing Bobby Abtahi

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Bobby Abtahi, left, and Philip Kingston

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE ROBOCALL

Some District 14 residents received a robocall from anti-gay former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert last week in support of City Council candidate Bobby Abtahi, who faces Philip Kingston in a runoff June 15.

But the Abtahi campaign is denying that it played any role in recording the Leppert robocall or even knew about it.

“We did not record that,” Abtahi campaign manager Kurt Watkins said.

Watkins said the call was done on Leppert’s own initiative and Leppert has not endorsed Abtahi despite the robocall.

The call highlights Abtahi’s work as a community prosecutor for the city while Leppert was mayor.

“I personally worked with Bobby,” Leppert says in the robocall. “And I saw his role as a city prosecutor the work he did protecting our communities. He made a big difference.”

—  David Taffet

CHART: Primary voting histories of Dallas City Council candidates

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We mentioned on Monday that District 14 Dallas City Council candidate Philip Kingston now says he’s a Democrat, even though he has voted in five of the last six Republican primaries. We also posted an Oath of Affiliation Kingston signed to become eligible for Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement, which he did not receive anyway. A copy of the oath was distributed to Stonewall members who attended the group’s endorsement screenings. On the opposite side of the sheet of paper containing Kingston’s oath was a chart showing the primary voting histories of all Dallas City Council candidates. Although candidates’ voting histories regularly come up at Stonewall endorsement screenings, this marked the first time they had been put on paper for all to see, and some Kingston supporters said they felt the move was designed to target him. In any case, we thought we’d go ahead and share the chart, above.

It’s interesting to note that, based on the chart, party affiliation doesn’t seem to necessarily correlate with support or lack thereof for the LGBT community. For example, the most anti-gay member of the council, Vonciel Hill, has voted in every Democratic primary since 1992. And so has Councilwoman Delia Jasso, who will go down in infamy for her betrayal of the LGBT community last week. On the flip side, Councilman Jerry Allen has an exclusively Republican voting history, including the last four primaries, yet he was among the eight council members who said they would support an LGBT equality resolution. Sandy Greyson, who also said she would support the resolution, has voted in two Democratic primaries and two Republican primaries. Others who supported the resolution are solid Democrats — such as Pauline Medrano, Angela Hunt, Monica Alonzo and Dwaine Caraway. But other solid Democrats did not support the resolution, including Hill, Carolyn Davis and Tennell Atkins.

Is it possible that party affiliation only matters on LGBT issues when candidates are running for partisan offices and Republicans are forced to pander to right-wing voters who dominate Republican primaries? Also, and this is a little off the subject, but is there any chance Mayor Mike Rawlings is gearing up to run as a Republican in Texas House District 108 if Greg Abbott runs for governor and state Rep. Dan Branch runs for attorney general? It would certainly help explain his lack of support for LGBT issues as mayor.

—  John Wright

Dallas City Council candidate Philip Kingston comes out as a Democrat

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The Texas Democratic Party Oath of Affiliation signed by Philip Kingston in March.

District 14 Dallas City Council candidate Philip Kingston came out as a Democrat on Saturday during a District 14 forum at the Oak Lawn Library.

Although council races are nonpartisan, District 14 leans strongly Democratic. And Kingston’s party affiliation has come under scrutiny since he signed an oath declaring his allegiance to the Democratic Party to become eligible for an endorsement from Stonewall Democrats of Dallas in March. Despite Kingston signing the oath, Stonewall’s endorsement went to Bobby Abtahi, his opponent in the District 14 runoff June 15.

Kingston has voted in five Republican primaries and one Democratic primary since 2002. Last month, he reportedly told The Dallas Morning News he’s an independent. But on Saturday, Kingston suggested the newspaper had misquoted him — and that he merely said he thinks independent-LY.

“I’m a Democrat and actually a fully paid-up member of the Stonewall Democrats,” Kingston said. “I’ll comply with that oath. I’m a fully paid-up member of the Stonewall Democrats and a straight ally.”

—  John Wright

DGLA endorses Kingston in runoff

Kingston.PhilipThe Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance has endorsed Philip Kingston in the District 14 Dallas City Council runoff. Kingston faces Bobby Abtahi in the June 15 election. Abtahi has the backing of Stonewall Democrats. DGLA originally endorsed Jim Rogers, who finished third among seven candidates and out of the runoff on May 11.

DGLA PAC chair Damien Duckett said his organization believes Kingston has the same sort of independent spirit as incumbent Angela Hunt, who is stepping down due to term limits.

“It allows her to stand up on the council even when it’s not popular,” he said. “He made the PAC feel he’ll be that same sort of councilman.”

In deciding on the endorsement, PAC member Nell Gaither recused herself from the discussion because she had previously endorsed Kingston.

Duckett called the decision between Abtahi and Kingston difficult because PAC members like both of the candidates but felt Kingston was the stronger of the two.

Duckett said the group was impressed with Kingston’s performance at the DGLA forum held in March at Sue Ellen’s.

“One of the messages I tried to deliver at the forum was you can’t be the District 14 rep without reaching out to the LGBT community,” Kingston said.

Four of the seven candidates in the race skipped the forum.

“I like that group and I’m really excited about the endorsement,” Kingston said.

—  David Taffet

Dallas City Council candidates woo LGBT voters at DGLA forum

Candidates at the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s LGBT forum at Sue Ellen’s on April 14. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Candidates at the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s LGBT forum at Sue Ellen’s on April 14. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Eight candidates vying for the LGBT community’s vote in the May 11 City Council election spoke about their support and advocacy during the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s forum Sunday.

LGBT allies and incumbents Delia Jasso and Scott Griggs, who are facing off in a redrawn District 1, attended, as did DISD Trustee Adam Medrano and openly gay real estate developer Herschel Weisfeld in District 2, Claudia Meyer in District 3, and Bobby Abtahi, Philip Kingston and Jim Rogers in District 14.

Several candidates addressed the need of the city to provide more funding and education on HIV prevention, especially among young minorities. Weisfeld and Abtahi said the city should spend more funds on educational programs.

“When you prevent one person from contracting HIV, it pays for the whole program,” Abtahi said.

—  Dallasvoice

District 14 candidates to debate the arts as campaign forums begin in earnest

WylyDistrict 14 Dallas City Council candidates will gather at the Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. beginning at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss arts issues. The forum is sponsored by the Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition.

Topics will include arts funding, cultural tourism, economic development in and around the Arts District, maintenance of facilities and the neighborhood. The Arts District lies within District 14.

DACAC sent questionnaires to candidates asking about their support of the arts — such as which arts organizations they support and if they are on any boards. DACAC asked about using the arts in crime prevention and in attracting corporate relocations and convention business.

Arts are important to the district economically and past District 14 council members Craig McDaniel and Veletta Lill both chaired the council’s arts committee.

Seven candidates are vying for the District 14 seat, which is being vacated by the term-limited Angela Hunt.

DACAC also sponsors a District 2 forum on the arts next Monday, March 25, at KERA, 3000 Harry Hines Blvd.

Meanwhile, four candidates running for District 13 — including openly gay candidate Leland Burke — meet on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Marcus Recreation Center, 3003 Northaven Road west of Webb Chapel. That forum is sponsored by the Northwest Dallas Improvement League.

—  David Taffet

Dallas City Council candidates to screen for Stonewall Democrats on Saturday

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Twelve candidates or their surrogates from six Dallas City Council races will appear at Resource Center Dallas on Saturday as they vie for endorsements from Stonewall Democrats.

Everyone is invited to attend the candidate screening sessions, but only those who have been members of Stonewall Democrats for more than 30 days may vote on the endorsement recommendations, which will be ratified at the group’s next general meeting on March 19.

Opening remarks and instructions begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, and candidates will appear by district. Oak Cliff-area races will be covered in the morning, with Oak Lawn-area races in the afternoon.

Stonewall political chair Jeff Strater is organizing the screenings. He said each candidate will be given three minutes to make a statement and then members can ask questions for seven minutes.

Under Stonewall’s bylaws, the organization may endorse only Democrats, even though the races are nonpartisan.

Of the seven people running in District 14, five have predominantly Republican voting histories, according to Strater. Phillip Kingston signed a pledge affiliating with the Democratic Party to qualify for the Stonewall endorsement. Bobby Abtahi’s most recent voting is in Democratic primaries, which qualifies him without signing a pledge, Strater said. Only Jim Rogers has a record of voting exclusively in Democratic primaries.

The full schedule for Saturday’s screenings is below.

—  David Taffet

Veletta Lill joins 4 gay former council members in endorsing Bobby Abtahi

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Veletta Lill

Former District 14 Dallas City Councilwoman Veletta Lill has added her name to the list of endorsements for Bobby Abtahi, who is running to replace Councilwoman Angela Hunt.

Lill joined former Councilman Craig McDaniel, who represented the district before her. McDaniel was the first openly gay person elected to office in Dallas. Openly gay Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons has also endorsed Abtahi. Other gay former elected officials who’ve endorsed Abtahi are former Dallas City Councilmen Chris Luna, Ed Oakley and Craig Holcomb.

Lill, who represented District 14 from 1997-2005 before becoming executive director of the Dallas Arts District, wrote in her endorsement:

“I want a councilmember with a strong vision for the entire district and a passion for our city. At the same time Bobby understands that the small details in our lives can make a big difference in the way we live – safe streets, stable neighborhoods, basic services and a good quality of life keep us personally invested in our community.

“It is no secret that I believe the arts are important to a city, from our school children to our seniors and from our neighborhood artists and cultural centers to the Dallas Arts District — Bobby is committed to being an ally for arts and culture on the council.”

Current District 14 Councilwoman Angela Hunt and former County Judge Hon. Margaret Keliher have endorsed Philip Kingston in the race.

Former state Reps. John Bryant and Harryette Ehrhardt have endorsed Jim Rogers. Former City Councilwoman Lori Palmer, who represented Oak Lawn before McDaniel, as well as former Mayor Mary Poss, have also endorsed Rogers.

Also in the District 14 race are David Blewett, Kevin Curley, Chuck Kobdish and Judith Liimatainen. None of those four had high-profile endorsements listed as of today.

—  David Taffet