FW mayoral candidates denounce discrimination

Jim Lane and Betsy Price

 

Price, Lane face off in runoff to replace Moncrief, will attend LGBT forum Wednesday

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — After nearly two years of unprecedented progress on LGBT issues within the Fort Worth city government, Cowtown’s LGBT residents are now facing the prospect of not having Mike Moncrief in the mayor’s seat at City Hall.

Although Moncrief probably can’t be described as the LGBT community’s biggest cheerleader, in the 22 months since the raid on the Rainbow Lounge, he has at least been a steadfast voice for equal treatment and has supported a number of changes proposed by the City Manager’s Diversity Task Force.

Those changes included amending the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to add protections based on gender identity and gender expression, despite often strident opposition from some of Fort Worth’s most conservative residents.

But with Moncrief choosing not to run for re-election this year, LGBT residents now find themselves faced with a choice between former tax-assessor/collector Betsy Price and attorney and former City Council member Jim Lane.

City elections are nonpartisan, but it is no secret that Price is Republican and Lane is a Democrat.

Price came in way ahead in the May 14 general election, pulling down 43 percent of the vote. Lane claimed his spot in the runoff with 26 percent.

Price comes into the race with endorsements from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Fort Worth Business Press and, generally, speaking has the backing of the city’s business community. Lane, on the other hand, is backed by the city’s firefighter and police officers associations, as well as the Retired Firefighters Association, the African American Firefighters association, former fire chief Larry McMillen, former police chief Ralph Mendoza and District Attorney Joe Shannon.

This week, Lane announced that he has also been endorsed by two of the other three candidates from the general election: Cathy Hirt, who was third in the general election with 21 percent and Nicholas Zebrun, who won less than 1 percent of the vote.

The fifth general election candidate, former state Rep. Dan Barrett, has not backed either candidate in the runoff. He garnered 8 percent of the general election vote.

Turnout in Fort Worth’s general election barely topped 10 percent of the city’s 326,623 registered voters. And both Price and Lane said that getting their supporters back to the polls on June 18 for the runoff will be the key to victory.

“We obviously had, far and away, the most voters on Election Day,” Price said. “What we have to do now is reach and touch our voters again and get them back to the polls for the runoff. We’re going to send out mailers, call people, knock doors, do meet-and-greet events. I’m going to get out there and shake hands and get to know people.”

Price said she would also be sticking to her same message that put her in the lead in May.

“Our message is about bringing good business sense to City Hall, about cutting taxes and building a stronger economy. We have to have an open, friendly, diverse and receptive city to do that well,” Price said.

Lane said this week he knows he has some ground to make up, based on the numbers from the general election. But he said he believes Hirt’s endorsement this week gives him a head start.

“I think that is a really wonderful endorsement to have. She is extremely bright and well thought of, and she got 21 percent of the vote on May 14,” Lane said. “Nicholas Zebrun has endorsed me, and that helps too. And I am going to try and meet with Dan Barrett to ask for his endorsement too.

“We’ve seen a lot of motivation from our voters, and Cathy Hirt has a very avid support group,” Lane added. “I think they will all be enthusiastic about coming back out to vote.”

Some political watchers in Fort Worth have suggested that the runoff  between Dennis Shingleton and Jon Perry for the District 7 City Council seat could help swing turnout in Price’s favor, since that district is located in the city’s more conservative northwest area. But Lane noted this week that he is from that area of the city, and that he has significant support there, too.

Lane also questioned Price’s pledge to “bring good business sense to City Hall,” saying that his 12 years on the Council give him insights into how city government operates that Price doesn’t have.

“The way our government is set up, you have to build coalitions to get things done. You have to talk to each council member about the issues in their district, work with them to determine what will be the best policy for the city manager to implement. These are all going to be seasoned council members — except in District 7 — and the mayor is going to be the one who’s the new kid on the block,” Lane said. “I’m the one who has the experience to do those things.”

With turnout being such a key issue in who wins, Fort Worth’s LGBT community has the opportunity to have significant impact on the outcome. Both Price and Lane know that, and both have voiced their support on issues of equality.

Both have also committed to participate in a forum on Wednesday, June 1, sponsored by Fairness Fort Worth and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.

Since Tarrant County officials have never dealt directly with LGBT issues, Price’s stance there is something of an unknown. However, her replies published in a “voters guide” issued by right-wing minister Richard Clough’s Texans for Faith and Family, gave many in the community pause.

According to Clough’s voters guide, Price agreed that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman, and “strongly agreed” that the city should not spend money to advertise in LGBT publications.

Price did not respond in the voters guide to a question on whether the city’s ordinance protecting transgenders from discrimination is necessary.

But Price said Clough’s voters guide misrepresented her reply on the issue of spending money in LGBT publications: “That whole thing with the Faith and Family brochure — they didn’t print the explanations with the answers,” Price said. “What I said was that the city doesn’t need to be advertising anywhere right now. It’s just too expensive. But if we are advertising in one [minority] publication, we should be advertising with ya’ll [the LGBT press], too. If we are advertising for job candidates, then we need to be advertising everywhere that there will be good candidates.”

When asked about the transgender anti-discrimination ordinance, Price — who was calling from her cell while traveling between locations — apparently misunderstood the question and instead spoke to the issue of trans health benefits.

“The question was about paying for [gender reassignment] surgery, I believe, and that’s a cost issue. At this point I would have to spend more time studying it before I could say one way or another,” Price said. “I don’t think the city’s insurance pays for fertility surgery either.”

The bottom line, Price said, is that “We should never discriminate, not against anyone. We’re all God’s kids. I know that’s rhetoric, but that’s the way it is. That’s what I believe. Treat everyone fairly.”

On the question of health benefits for trans employees, Lane said that he, too, needed to study the issue further before taking a stand, noting that he has asked Fairness Fort Worth Tom Anable help him understand “what sexual reassignment is.”

Both Lane and Price, when asked about other special health needs short of reassignment surgery that transgender face, said they were not aware of such issues and would have to study the questions further before answering.

Lane, however, compared the issue to his wife’s recent bout with breast cancer.

“If it’s an issue for someone, it should be covered,” Lane said. “We [the city of Fort Worth] are self insured, and we should be covering our employees’ health needs.”

Lane also noted that he has a proven public record on LGBT issues that voters can rely on. He was on the City Council in 2001 when sexual orientation was added to Fort Worth’s nondiscrimination ordinance, a move he supported.

“We did all that before,” Lane said, “and those 19 proposals the City Manager’s Diversity Task Force came up with, if I had been on the council then [in 2009] I would have supported every one of them. These [LGBTs] are citizens just like anybody else, as far as I am concerned. It’s a pretty practical issue. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter how you look at it, we shouldn’t discriminate against anybody. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly and equally.”

—  John Wright

GLBT Chamber, Fairness Fort Worth to host forum for FW mayoral runoff candidates

Fort Worth mayoral candidates Betsy Price and Jim Lane

Former Tax Assessor-Collector Betsy Price and former City Councilman Jim Lane are headed to a runoff to determine who will be the next mayor of Fort Worth, and Cowtown’s LGBT community will have the chance to see where the candidates stand on the issues when the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce and Fairness Fort Worth host an candidate forum Wednesday, June 1, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Four-Day Weekend theater, 312 Houston St., in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square.

Questions for the candidates must be submitted in advance, and those asking the questions can remain anonymous. Submit questions via email to FairnessFtWorth@aol.com. The forum will be moderated by Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy and by me, Dallas Voice Senior Editor Tammye Nash.

Price ended Election Day with a significant lead at the ballot box, bringing in 44 percent of the 33,581 votes cast in the mayoral race. Lane trailed by nearly 20 percentage points, with 26 percent.

Another former council member, Cathy Hirt, was third in the five-way race with 21 percent, and former State Rep. Dan Barrett was fourth with 8 percent. Independent filmmaker Nicholas Zebrun, the youngest of the five candidates, received 1 percent of the vote.

Of the 327,307 registered voters eligible to cast a ballot in the Fort Worth mayoral election, only 10 percent did so.

—  admin

WATCH: Fort Worth mayoral candidates discuss the issues — but not LGBT ones


WFAA Channel 8  over the weekend hosted a debate — well, they call it a debate but it is, to me, more of a question-and-answer session — with the five candidates campaigning to succeed eight-year Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, who is not running for re-election.

The debate, moderated by Channel 8′s Brad Watson and Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy, is a little over 20 minutes long and features the candidates answering questions on topics like the city’s budget, urban oil drilling and the city’s pension and benefits plans. Despite the fact that LGBT issues have played a very prominent part in Fort Worth city politics over the last 18 months, neither Watson nor Kennedy asked the candidates any LGBT-related issues.

Still, if you live in Fort Worth, then you most likely care what the candidates have to say on the issues they did discuss. So I am posting the video here. (I live in Fort Worth, by the way, and I do care about the issues.)

The candidates are former city council members Cathy Hirt and Jim Lane, former state Rep. Dan Barrett, current Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Betsy Price and filmmaker Nicholas Zebrun.

—  admin

Burns, Hicks unopposed in FW council bids

Joel Burns

5 candidates vying to replace Moncrief as mayor; Zimmerman is only other incumbent unopposed

TAMMYE NASH   | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — With the filing deadline passed for the Fort Worth City Council elections in May, the city’s LGBT community is assured of having its two strongest allies — openly gay District 9 Councilmember Joel Burns and District 8 Councilmember Kathleen Hicks — back in their seats in the council chambers since neither drew any challengers in their re-election bids.

It will be Burns’ second full term on the council after being elected in a December 2007 runoff to replace Wendy Davis when she stepped down to run for the Texas Senate.
Hicks is going into her fourth term representing District 8.

The only other uncontested seat on the council is in District 3 where W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman, one of six councilmembers who voted in favor of adding transgender protections to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance in October 2009, is running unopposed for his second council term.

But at least two candidates are running for each of the six other seats at the council table, including mayor where five candidates are vying to replace Mike Moncrief, who decided to retire after serving four terms.

Mayoral candidates include two former city council members Cathy Hirt and Jim Lane, Tarrant County Tax Assessor/Collector Betsy Price, former state Rep. Dan Barrett and experimental filmmaker Nicholas Zebrun.

Fort Worth attorney Jon Nelson, one of the founders of the LGBT advocacy group Fairness Fort Worth, said this week said that while “it’s really still too soon to tell, I have heard that people supposedly knowledgeable in the area of Fort Worth politics” predict that the race to replace Moncrief will come down to Hirt and Lane.

Nelson said he is supporting Hirt, because he believes she is a “very intelligent … nuts-and-bolts kind of person who will get things done” and because “her stance on equality is very solid.”

But Nelson said that he believes Lane and Barrett “would have supported what the mayor and City Council did” in the wake of the June 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge by adding trans protections to the nondiscrimination ordinance and establishing a diversity task force to address LGBT issues.

Nelson acknowledged that he knows little about Price and said he has “never heard of Zebrun.”

Council races

In District 2, incumbent Sal Espino, an attorney is running for his fourth term on the council against Paul L. Rudisill, who is in the healthcare industry.

Espino provided a positive vote on LGBT issues in the months since the Rainbow Lounge raid, including voting for adding transgender protections to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

Rudisill, on his campaign website, describes himself as a conservative who will work to “steer City Hall in the direction you, the taxpayer, desire, not the way liberals have in the past.”

In District 4, incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem Danny Scarth is running for his fourth term. Scarth was one of the three councilmembers to vote against adding trans protections to the nondiscrimination ordinance.

Scarth, executive director of Hope Media, is being challenged by businesswoman Lupe Arriola, who with her husband owns a string of fast-food restaurants. On her website, Arriola promises she will “not rubber stamp the wants of the special interests groups.”

Real estate broker Frank Moss in District 5 is the only incumbent running for re-election to draw more than one challenger. Moss, running for his third term, voted favorably on LGBT issues, including the transgender nondiscrimination measure. He is being challenged by designer Charles Hibbler and school administrator Rickie Clark.

Dallas Voice was unable to locate campaign websites for either Hibbler or Clark. However, webs searches indicate both have previously run unsuccessful campaigns for public office.

In District 6, incumbent Jungus Jordan, who voted against adding transgender protections to the nondiscrimination ordinance, is running for his fourth term. Jordan, a retired economist, is being challenged by civic advocate Tollie Thomas, who has no campaign website available.

District 7 incumbent Carter Burdette, the third councilmember to vote against trans protections, is not running for re-election. Five candidates are vying to replace him on the council.

Burdette is backing Dennis Shingleton, senior associate dean of finance and administration at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

Also running in District 7 are bank officer Jonathan Horton, Jack Ernest who works in business management, Merchant Services Inc. CEO Jon Perry and consultant Lee Henderson.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Burns, Hicks unopposed in FW council races

Fort Worth City Councilmembers Joel Burns and Kathleen Hicks are unopposed in their 2011 re-election bids.

Yesterday (Monday, March 14) was the filing deadline for area municipal elections, and it’s official: Fort Worth’s first and only openly gay City Council member, Joel Burns, is unopposed in his second re-election bid since first winning the District 9 seat on the council in 2007 when he ran to replace Wendy Davis. Davis resigned to run for — and win — the District 10 seat in the Texas Senate.

In addition, the deadline passed without anyone filing to challenge Fort Worth’s District 8 incumbent, Kathleen Hicks, either. Hicks, who represents the district in which the Rainbow Lounge is located, has been a steadfast ally of the LGBT community, especially in the months since the June 29, 2009 raid on Rainbow Lounge.

W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman, the District 3 incumbent, also has no opponent. Zimmerman, along with Burns, Hicks, District 2 incumbent Sal Espino, District 5 incumbent Frank Moss and Mayor Mike Moncrief voted in October 2009 to add protections based on gender expression and gender identity to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Espino has one opponent, Paul L. Rudisill, in the May 14 election, and Moss has two opponents: Charles Hibbler and Rickie Clark.

Moncrief is not seeking re-election, and a crowded field of five candidates have filed to replace him. They are Jim Lane, Betsy Price, Cathy Hirt, Dan Barrett and Nicholas Zebrun.

The three councilmembers who voted against the transgender protections all face opponents in this election. Mayor Pro-Tem Danny Scarth is being challenged by Lupe Arriola in District 2. And in District 6, incumbent Jungus Jordan is being challenged by Tolli Thomas. District 7 incumbent Carter Burdette is not running for re-election, and five candidates are running to replace him. They are Dennis Shingleton, Jonathan Horton, Jack Ernest, Jon Perry and Lee Henderson.

For more information on candidates in the Fort Worth city elections, check out the Fort Worth City Secretary’s Elections Page.

And look for an in-depth story on the mayor’s race in an upcoming issue of Dallas Voice.

—  admin

BREAKING: Moncrief won’t seek re-election

Mike Moncrief

Mike Moncrief announced today that he won’t seek re-election to a fifth term as mayor of Fort Worth, according to the Star-Telegram.

Possible candidates to replace Moncrief include former councilmembers Cathy Hirt and Jim Lane, as well as Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Betsy Price, according to the Star-Telegram.

Moncrief, of course, has led Fort Worth through the aftermath of the 2009 Rainbow Lounge raid.

The filing period for Fort Worth elections begins Monday.

—  John Wright