District 14: Attorney Jim Rogers files to run but says he’ll withdraw if Hunt seeks re-election

Jim Rodgers

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Jim Rogers, a Dallas attorney and accountant, filed information on his campaign treasurer on Jan. 18 to begin his run for the Dallas City Council District 14, the seat now held by Angela Hunt. But at that evening’s Stonewall Democrats meeting, he said that if Hunt decides run for her council seat again rather than for mayor, he would withdraw.

Rogers said he only decided to get into the race two days earlier, after a meeting with friends.

“This isn’t a Jim Rogers decision,” he said. “It’s a neighborhood decision.”

One of those in the neighborhood who supports that decision is Neal Emmons, a Hunt appointee to the City Plan Commission.

Emmons cited Rogers’ years of experience working on neighborhood issues as his greatest strength, noting that Rogers has been active in Democratic politics in the city for years and has become a member of Stonewall Democrats.

Rogers has lived in Oak Lawn and East Dallas for 30 years and served on the Urban Rehabilitation Standards Board. He was one of the original Bryan Place homeowners.

When Bryan Place was built just outside of Downtown Dallas in the early 1980s, it was the first residential development built so close to the city center in decades and its residents were considered urban pioneers.

Rogers said developer Dave Fox told him, “Bryan Place wouldn’t have the atmosphere it has if it wasn’t for Jim Rogers.”

“We didn’t do what I wanted to do,” he said. “We found out what the neighborhood wanted to do.”

He said he went door to door to find out what his new neighbors thought would make this a better place to live. The neighborhood had no amenities and people wanted a swimming pool. They created a $300,000 budget that would include a clubhouse.

Developer Fox & Jacobs pledged $200,000 to the project if Rogers could raise $100,000 never believing they’d have to make good on their promise.

Rogers delivered his portion from money raised from the new homeowners. The developers pitched in their pledge and built the pool.

He said that story illustrates how he would approach his job on the City Council.

“I want to involve as many people from the district as possible,” he said.

He said he would listen and learn what issues are not being addressed. But he did have a three-point plan — smoother streets, safer neighborhoods and lower taxes.

While he followed and understood the budgeting problems that the council faced last year, Rogers said he wondered why Dallas has the highest tax rate of any major city in the state.

He said he wasn’t looking to slash services, “But more analysis needs to be done.”

He said he was driving near Northwest Highway and LBJ Freeway and he suddenly noticed a difference in the road.

“Then I realized I was in Garland,” he said. “Garland shouldn’t have smoother streets than we do.

Rogers promised to be an advocate for the LGBT community, just as Hunt has been. Although same-sex marriage is not an issue that faces a city council, he offered his opinion on it.

“Why not?” Rogers asked. “How’s it going to affect my marriage?”

He said he supports policies already in place in Dallas such as domestic partnership benefits for city employees and the nondiscrimination ordinance. On new issues that might come before the council, he said his door would be open for members of the community to come and educate him so he could support equality.

“I will always fight for the guy who is not being treated right,” he said.

He called the LGBT community “The most active political community on the face of the earth.”

“I want the support of that community,” he said. “It’s amazing how much work goes on there.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

Obama to visit Dallas on Monday for fundraiser

President Barack Obama

On Monday, President Barack Obama will be in Dallas to raise money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The Dallas County Democratic Party provided few details on the dinner other to say it will be a $15,000-per-plate affair at the home of attorney Russell Budd.

Budd is a partner in the law firm Baron & Budd. His late law partner Fred Baron was national campaign treasurer for John Edwards in 2008.

Few of this year’s candidates for Congress or statewide office said they plan to attend. Only lieutenant governor nominee Linda Chavez-Thompson expressed interest.

Katy Bacon, spokesperson for the Bill White campaign, said he doesn’t plan to attend.

“He will be in Midland, Abilene and Johnson County that day,” she said.

But she said he’s not avoiding the president.

“He has talked to him by phone from time to time,” she said.

She said that with just 90 days left until the election, White needs to get out and meet as many Texans as possible. She said the campaign is on track and that White out-raised Gov. Rick Perry three reporting periods in a row and currently has $3 million more cash on hand than the incumbent.

“When I heard President Obama would be visiting Dallas the week of August 9th, I immediately thought that he intended to come to my fundraiser on Wednesday, Aug. 11,” joked openly gay Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons. “Regrettably that has turned out not to be the case.”

Fitzsimmons said Texas Democrats have historically been very generous donors to congressional campaigns around the country and that the president is doing everything he can to ensure Democratic candidates are competitive in the fall.

“It is a shame, however, that the president will not be having a public event in North Texas this time around,” he said. “President Obama is enormously popular here in Dallas County.”

Congressional candidates were not invited to the events. Lainey Melnick, a Democrat running against Republican incumbent Lamar Smith in Austin, said she wanted to attend but was told she would have to pay $30,000 a couple.

Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said she expected Republicans to have something to say about Obama’s visit. But she said that Dallas is still “blue” and supports him.

“He’s not coming to stump,” she said. “They’re down here raising money and we’re a big ATM. Fifteen thousand dollars a plate is worth a stop in Dallas.”

Moore said White and other top Democrats know Dallas’ big donors already and that attending a fundraising event for the national Senate candidates wouldn’t be a good use of campaign time.

—  David Taffet