Caraway, Davis absent from gay Pride

Eleven of 15 councilmembers appeared on the city float.

Dallas City Councilmembers Carolyn Davis and Dwaine Caraway were absent from Sunday’s Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, despite having RSVP’d affirmatively for the gay Pride celebration.

Eleven of 15 councilmembers, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, rode in the parade, sources at City Hall confirmed this week.

“He enjoyed it and looks forward to next year,” said Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Rawlings, who became the third mayor in Dallas history to ride in the parade.

Councilmembers Sandy Greyson and Vonciel Jones Hill were the only two who indicated in advance they wouldn’t make the parade — Hill due to religious objections and Greyson because of a scheduling conflict.

—  John Wright

N. Texas candidates prep for runoffs

Angela Hunt and James Nowlin

Dallas, Fort Worth mayors’ races head to runoff; Hunt sails to re-election; Griggs upsets incumbent; Hightower also in runoff

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Mike Rawlings will face David Kunkle in a runoff for Dallas mayor on June 18. The two will meet in a debate sponsored by Dallas Voice on May 24 at Cathedral of Hope at 6 p.m.

Rawlings, who outspent all three of his opponents combined, drew 41 percent of the vote. Kunkle, who was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, received 32 percent of the vote.

DGLA endorsed Ron Natinsky, who got 25 percent of the vote.

Both Kunkle and Rawlings have supports from the LGBT community, but in heavily gay Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff precincts, Kunkle drew more votes.

Dallas City Council

In City Council races, Angela Hunt sailed to a re-election victory with 65 percent of the vote against three challengers. Gay candidate James Nowlin received 30 percent and Vernon Franko and Brian Oley split the remaining 5 percent.

“I was humbled by the support, especially in the Oak Lawn precincts,” Hunt said. “It meant a great deal to me.”

Because of term limits, this will be Hunt’s last two years on the council. But she said she hasn’t thought about future plans.

“We have some serious challenges we need to address over the next two years,” Hunt said.

In a rare upset, challenger Scott Griggs defeated two-term incumbent Dave Neumann in District 3.

“It’s a new day for District 3,” Griggs said. “Our message resonated with voters.”

His message included wise use of tax dollars for small economic development projects in his district and stopping gas drilling within the city limits.

Pauline Medrano who represents parts of Oak Lawn was re-elected with 75 percent of the vote.

Delia Jasso, who represents a large section of North Oak Cliff, ran unopposed.

Casie Pierce, a lesbian who was challenging Carolyn Davis for District 7 in South Dallas and Pleasant Grove, lost her race.

In District 6, Stonewall-backed Monica Alonzo defeated DGLA-backed Luis Sepulveda in the race with the lowest voter turnout.

Tarrant County

In Fort Worth, former Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Betsy Price will face former Mayor Pro Tem Jim Lane.

Of the five mayoral candidates, Price’s answers to a right-wing religious voter guide were the least LGBT-friendly, but Price said this week her answers were inaccurately represented (see story, Page 4).

In the non-partisan race, Price is running with the most Republican support, including that of U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, who is a former Fort Worth mayor.

The candidates will meet in a debate on June 1 at Four-Day Weekend Theater, 312 Houston St., Fort Worth at 5:30 p.m. Fairness Fort Worth and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the event that will be moderated by Dallas Voice Senior Editor Tammye Nash and Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Bud Kennedy.

Chris Hightower, District 5 City Council candidate in Arlington, also made it into a runoff. He will face incumbent Lana Wolff and if elected would become that city’s first openly gay elected official.

Hightower was the top vote-getter with 39 percent in a five-way race.

“We feel good about where we are,” he said. “We have a broad base of support in the district, and we are going to just keep at it, keep delivering that positive message to the voters. We are ready to go. We came into this prepared for a runoff. We will still be doing some fundraising, but we are in good shape. We just have to put our heads down and keep going.”

—  John Wright

Rawlings, Kunkle headed to runoff; Griggs knocks off Neumann; Hunt cruises past Nowlin

District 3 Dallas City Councilman-elect Scott Griggs poses with his mother during a watch party at his campaign headquarters in Oak Cliff on Saturday. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Gay candidate Chris Hightower advances to runoff in Arlington

From Staff Reports

Former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Rawlings and former Police Chief David Kunkle are headed to a June 18 runoff for Dallas mayor.

Meanwhile, challenger Scott Griggs knocked off incumbent Dave Neumann for the District 3 Dallas City Council seat, and District 14 incumbent Angela Hunt easily staved off a challenge from openly gay candidate James Nowlin in a race that has sharply divided the LGBT community.

The only other openly gay candidate on the ballot in Dallas, Casie Pierce, lost to incumbent Carolyn Davis in District 7. However, openly gay candidate Chris Hightower advanced to a runoff for the District 5 council seat in Arlington.

Rawlings and Kunkle were the top two vote-getters in the Dallas mayor’s race, beating out City Councilman Ron Natinsky. Rawlings converted his huge fund-raising advantage into a strong showing at the polls, capturing 41 percent of the vote with 551 of 555 precincts reporting. Kunkle, endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, had 32 percent. Natinsky, endorsed by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, had 25 percent.

In District 3, Griggs captured 57 percent of the vote to Neumann’s 43 percent. Griggs, endorsed by both DGLA and Stonewall, will take over the Oak Cliff seat once held by gay Councilman Ed Oakley.

In District 14, Hunt captured 67 percent of the vote, to Nowlin’s 28 percent. Brian Oley was third with 4 percent, and Vernon Franko was fourth with 2 percent. Hunt was endorsed by DGLA, while Nowlin was endorsed by Stonewall.

In District 7, Pierce was backed by both DGLA and Stonewall as she vied to become the first out lesbian elected to the Dallas City Council. But Davis cruised to re-election with 61 percent, while Helene McKinney finished second with 21 percent and Pierce finished third with 18 percent.

In the Fort Worth mayor’s race, former Tarrant County Tax-Assessor Collector Betsy Price advanced to a runoff against former Councilman Jim Lane. Price received 43 percent of the vote to Lane’s 26 percent. Of the five Fort Worth mayoral candidates, Price was the one whose answers to a recent right-wing religious voters guide were the least LGBT-friendly. Fort Worth attorney and LGBT activist Jon Nelson, however, said he believes Price “has a good heart” but “just isn’t educated on gay issues.”

In the Arlington District 5 race, Hightower was the top-vote getter and advances to a runoff against incumbent Lana Wolff. Hightower captured 39 percent of the vote to Wolff’s 35 percent.

“Our supporters have really rallied behind us and behind our positive message,” Hightower said. “We have a positive message that goes back to the basics, and the voters have gotten behind that message. We feel the voters are saying they are ready for new leadership from a new generation.”

Hightower, who is endorsed by the Washington, D.C.-based Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said he’s looking forward to the runoff against Wolff.

“We feel good about where we are,” he said. “We have a broad base of support in the district, and we are going to just keep at it, keep delivering that positive message to the voters. We are ready to go. We came into this prepared for a runoff. We will still be doing some fundraising, but we are in good shape. We just have to put our heads down and keep going.”

In other Dallas races, District 2 incumbent Pauline Medrano handily defeated challenger Billy MacLeod, 75 percent to 25 percent.

In District 6, Monica Alonzo defeated Luis Sepulveda for the seat being vacated by Councilman Steve Salazar. Alonzo, endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, captured 61 percent to Sepulveda’s 39 percent. Sepulveda was endorsed by DGLA.

In the race to replace Natinsky in District 12, Sandy Greyson and Donna Starnes are headed to the only other Dallas runoff aside from the mayor’s race.

Incumbents Delia Jasso, Dwaine Caraway, Vonciel Jones Hill, Tennell Atkins, Linda Koop, Sheffie Kadane, Jerry Allen and Ann Margolin were all re-elected to the council.

 

—  John Wright

Rawlings, Hunt, Griggs lead after early voting

Mike Rawlings

Former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Rawlings has a big lead in the race for Dallas mayor after early voting.

Rawlings, the city’s former parks board chairman, captured 43 percent of the early vote. Former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, is second with 29 percent, and City Councilman Ron Natinsky, endorsed by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, is third with 27 percent. Edward Okpa received 2 percent of the early vote.

Because early voting is expected to account for roughly half of the overall turnout, it’s looking like Rawlings will be in a June runoff with either Kunkle or Natinsky.

But we won’t know for sure until later tonight, when Election Day results are counted.

If no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote tonight, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff. Only about 650 votes separate Kunkle and Natinsky. Rawlings received 12,693 early votes, Kunkle received 8,553 and Natinsky received 7,900. Okpa received 542.

In the District 14 Dallas City Council race, incumbent Angela Hunt has a commanding lead after early voting, with 64 percent. Openly gay challenger James Nowlin, endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, is second with 30 percent. Brian Oley is third with 4 percent, and Vernon Franko is fourth with 2 percent. Based on early voting, Hunt is likely to avoid a runoff. Again, though, it’s too soon to say for sure. Hunt received 2,042 early votes and Nowlin received 968.

In District 3, challenger Scott Griggs has the lead after early voting over incumbent Dave Neumann. Griggs received 56 percent of the early vote to Neumann’s 44 percent. This race is still too close to call, as fewer than 300 votes separate the two candidates. Griggs received 1,287 early votes, while Neumann received 1,022.

In District 7, incumbent Carolyn Davis has a commanding lead with 64 percent of the vote. Openly gay candidate Casie Pierce is third with 16 percent, while Helene McKinney is second with 20 percent. Davis received 910 early votes to McKinney’s 284 and Pierce’s 234.

In District 2, incumbent Pauline Medrano has a commanding lead over challenger Billy MacLoed. Medrano got 74 percent of the early vote to MacLoed’s 26 percent.

In District 6, Monica Alonzo leads Luis Sepulveda by 61 percent to 39 percent in the race for the seat being vacated by Councilman Steve Salazar.

In District 10, incumbent Sheffie Kadane has a commanding lead over two challengers. And in District 10, incumbent Jerry Allen has 73 percent to challenger Cynthia Durbin’s 27 percent.

In the race to replace Natinsky in District 12, Sandy Greyson leads with 48 percent after early voting. Donna Stames is second with 41 percent, and William Tsao is third with 12 percent.

In District 13, incumbent Ann Margolin received 90 percent of the early vote, while challenger Richard Sheridan received 10 percent.

Incumbents Delia Jasso in District 1, Dwaine Caraway in District 4, Vonciel Jones Hill in District 5, Tennell Atkins in District 8 and Linda Koop in District 11 are unopposed.

Detailed results from all Dallas County races can be found here.

We expect Election Day results to start coming in shortly after 9 p.m. Stay tuned.

—  John Wright

Live-blogging tonight’s election results

UPDATE: Early voting results from Dallas are here.

I’m here at the Instant Tea Brewery, David Taffet is doing his best watch party pub crawl, and Tammye Nash is keeping an eye on things over in Tarrant County. Together we’ll be bringing you coverage of tonight’s municipal election results, so keep it right here.

The polls close at 7 p.m., and early voting results should be posted shortly therafter. In Dallas, about 26,000 people voted early, which amounts to about half of the expected overall turnout. This means the early voting results should give us a good idea where some races are headed. However, it could be 10 p.m. or later before Election Day results are posted and we know the final outcomes.

Races we’ll be watching most closely include:

Dallas mayor: David Kunkle, Ron Natinsky, Edward Okpa and Mike Rawlings are in a four-way battle to become the city’s next top elected official. If no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote tonight, we’ll have a June runoff between the top two vote-getters. Kunkle is endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, while Natinsky has the backing of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

District 14 Dallas City Council: Three-term incumbent Angela Hunt, a staunch LGBT ally, is being challenged by openly gay candidate James Nowlin, who’s endorsed by Stonewall Democrats and has raised the most money in the race. Hunt is endorsed by DGLA. The other two candidates in the District 14 race are Vernon Franko and Brian Oley. Again, if no one gets 50 percent tonight, we’ll have a runoff between the top two.

District 7 Dallas City Council: Casie Pierce is vying to become the first out lesbian elected to the council in the city’s history, but she faces an uphill battle against incumbent Carolyn Davis for this South Dallas seat. Also challenging Davis is Helene McKinney. Pierce is endorsed by both Stonewall Democrats and DGLA.

District 3 Dallas City Council: Incumbent Dave Neumann faces a stiff challenge from Scott Griggs for this Oak Cliff seat previously held by openly gay Councilman Ed Oakley. Griggs is endorsed by both Stonewall Democrats and DGLA.

District 5 Arlington City Council: Realtor Chris Hightower is vying to become Arlington’s first openly gay city councilman. Hightower, one of four candidates challenging eight-year incumbent Lana Wolff, is endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

Fort Worth mayor: Five candidates are vying to replace Mike Moncrief, who is not seeking re-election. They are Jim Lane, Cathy Hirt, Betsy Price, Dan Barrett and Nicholas Zebrun.

—  John Wright

DGLA endorses Ron Natinsky, Angela Hunt

Ron Natinsky

In a move that underscores major differences within the LGBT community in this year’s municipal elections, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance on Saturday endorsed City Councilman Ron Natinsky for mayor and incumbent Angela Hunt in District 14.

DGLA also issued a rare warning against Mike Rawlings in the mayor’s race, saying the former Pizza Hut CEO’s “passion for commerce and business interests supremely overwhelms his appreciation for the civil rights of all people.” In response to the DGLA warning, Rawlings denied that he would ever put economic development before civil rights. “Civil rights come first,” he said.

Last month, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsed former Police Chief David Kunkle for mayor and openly gay challenger James Nowlin in District 14. Natinsky had pulled out of Stonewall’s candidate screening over questions about his eligibility for the group’s backing because he’s a Republican.

But unlike Stonewall, DGLA is nonpartisan — and so are municipal elections.

—  John Wright

Nowlin is top fundraiser in District 14

James Nowlin

Openly gay candidate James Nowlin has raised the most money thus far among four District 14 Dallas City Council hopefuls, nearly doubling the amount brought in by three-term incumbent Angela Hunt. However, Hunt has more money in the bank.

Nowlin raised $51,092 and had $25,985 left over, according to a campaign finance report filed with the City Secretary’s Office this week. Hunt raised $28,749 and had $27,220 in the bank, according to her campaign finance report.

The other two candidates in District 14 are Brian Oley, who reported $1,600 raised, and Vernon Franko, who reported $0 raised.

“We’re Number One!” Nowlin declared in the subject line of an e-mail to supporters Friday evening seeking additional contributions.

Openly gay candidate Casie Pierce, who’s vying for the District 7 seat, had raised $6,220, according to her report. District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis reported $10,075 in contributions. Both Pierce and Davis reported no money remaining in their campaign accounts, even though their expenditures were less than their total contributions.

Early voting for the May 14 municipal elections begins May 2.

—  John Wright

Council candidate Pierce’s office broken into

Casie Pierce

The newly opened campaign office of Dallas City Council District 7 candidate Casie Pierce was broken into during the weekend.

The office, at 3312 North Buckner Blvd. #205, opened Friday. The break-in occurred Sunday, and the Pierce campaign was notified by the building supervisor on Monday morning.

“Our office had only been open for three days and something like this happens. We only had a desk and a couple of chairs inside, but my campaign manager’s laptop was taken,” Pierce said.

Pierce, a lesbian who’s challenging incumbent Carolyn Davis, was profiled in a March story in Dallas Voice.

Police were called at 10 a.m. on Sunday, and the report is pending.

“We are going to clean up, get the window repaired and get back to work on the campaign,” Pierce said.

The campaign will hold an open house on April 9.

—  David Taffet

District 7 challenger aims to become Dallas’ 1st out lesbian councilmember

Casie Pierce

Casie Pierce believes that the Great Trinity Forest could be the gateway to lifting up South Dallas community

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

If Casie Pierce wins her District 7 race, she would be the first open lesbian to serve on the Dallas City Council. She is challenging incumbent Carolyn Davis.

District 7 runs from the Mesquite border north of I-30 then dips south of the highway through Pleasant Grove, across parts of South Dallas including Fair Park and stopping just before North Oak Cliff.

There have been no openly-LGBT council members since Ed Oakley resigned to run for mayor in 2007. James Nowlin, another openly gay candidate, is challenging incumbent Angela Hunt in the District 14 race.

For a number of years, Pierce has been active in her Parkdale community, a section of Pleasant Grove with a large LGBT population. She worked on neighborhood cleanup and park projects with at-risk youth.

In 2005, Pierce founded Groundwork Dallas Inc., a nonprofit organization that has improved access to the Great Trinity Forest and cleaned up gateway neighborhoods. The group has built nature trails that connect with the Trinity River Audubon Center and the planned neighboring equestrian center. The group has also done landscaping around churches and on roadway medians, and, using grant money, it has employed at-risk neighborhood teens.

Pierce sees the possibility of bringing business to South Dallas by developing local eco-tourism in the forest surrounding the Trinity River.

“Lots of people go outside of Dallas to go mountain biking,” Pierce said, adding that most people don’t even know these trails are here.

Pierce said that much more could be done to develop the Great Trinity Forest into a recreational area. The 6,200 acres of forestland lies just four miles south of downtown encompassing an area four times the size of Manhattan.

While Pierce calls District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis supportive of the work she’s done to clean up neighborhoods and attract more people to the district, “I’d be more aggressive” as the District 7 council representative, she said.

Pierce said that businesses should be given a reason to move into the district. With the opening of DART’s Green Line, she would work to bring development to the area as a council member, especially around the new Lawnview Station.

Pierce said that while she wasn’t expecting anything on the scale of the development that surrounds Mockingbird or Park Lane stations to come to her South Dallas district, she would like to see some new apartments and stores.

Pierce works as a grant writer. She cites that talent as a source for funding new projects that will stimulate and attract business to the district. Groundwork Dallas got started with an initial $100,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.

As a City Council member, Pierce said she would be more aggressive in attracting grant money to her district for development.

And she believes the area is primed for business development. Pierce points to all of the vacant stores, offices and manufacturing facilities in the area. She said that while much of the opposition to beer and wine sales in last November’s election came from her district, she’d like to see a few carefully zoned stores inside the Dallas border that cater to the still-dry Mesquite market.

“Right now they’re shopping in Garland,” she said.

Pierce calls herself a fiscal conservative and said the city should stop giving away PIDs — public improvement districts that offer large tax advantages to locate businesses in certain areas. She mentioned the new Hunt Oil building downtown that she said was going to be in the exact same location whether they received a tax abatement or not.

“That’s $30 million,” Pierce said. “We shouldn’t bribe people to be here.”

Pierce said her strategy is to build a coalition of voters who want to see positive growth in the area. She said she hoped her fiscally conservative views would attract voters in the more conservative District 7 areas north of I-30. In her neighborhood clean-up campaigns, she has worked with a number of South Dallas pastors who she hoped would support her candidacy.

In addition to her grant writing career, Pierce has worked for the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority and still volunteers as a trolley operator when they need extra help for special events.

Her Parkdale neighborhood lies east of Fair Park and south of Military Parkway. She lives with her partner who manages a high-end restaurant.

District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis was contacted for comment for this article, but had not responded by press deadline.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Dallas City Council resolution condemns bullying, notes that LGBT students are often the victims

As Unfair Park first reported last week, the Dallas City Council on Wednesday will consider a resolution to condemn all bullying, harassment and intimidation at schools in the city. The two-page resolution, submitted by seven council members, notes that “children and youth with disabilities and children and youth who are lesbian, gay, or trans-gender, or who are perceived to be so, [are] at particularly high risk of being bullied by their peers … ”

The resolution was submitted by Angela Hunt, Pauline Medrano, Delia Jasso, Dwaine Caraway, Carolyn Davis, Steve Salazar and Tennell Atkins. If you’ll remember, Michael Piazza, executive director of Hope for Peace and Justice, addressed the City Council and requested just such a resolution three weeks ago (you can watch video of Piazza’s remarks here). Since then, the Dallas Independent School District’s board of trustees has opted to move forward with a new bullying policy that would specifically protect LGBT students. So at this point the City Council resolution is like icing on the cake. And just in case you really like icing, we’ve posted the full text below.

—  John Wright