Parker expected to win re-election in Houston

With lesbian mayor at the top of the ballot, 4 LGBTS among candidates for seats on City Council

Annise-Parker-wins

Annise-Parker-wins

 

Daniel Williams  |  Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who’s 2009 election made her the first out LGBT mayor of a major American city, faces five challengers in her bid for re-election on Nov. 8, and more than one of those challengers brings a decidedly anti-gay record to the race.

Most prominent among the anti-gay candidates is Dave Wilson, who is infamous for his decades-long efforts to roll back advancements for LGBT Houstonians.

In recent weeks, the Wilson campaign has launched robocalls attacking Parker, as Wilson claims, using her position to advance her “alternative lifestyle.”

Also in the race are perennial socialist candidate Amanda Ulman, little-knowns Kevin Simms and Jack O’Conner, and Fernando Herrera.

Last year Herrera ran as the Republican candidate for Texas House District 148 against Democrat Rep. Jessica Farrar. During that race Herrera responded to a questionnaire from the right-wing think tank The Heritage Foundation with a statement that he opposed allowing same-sex couples to adopt or be foster parents.

A poll of 748 likely voters, published by television station KHOU-Houston on Oct. 17, shows Parker with a commanding lead, with 37 percent of the respondents saying they intended to vote for her. Most pundits expect the incumbent to win re-election handily.

Her five challengers split 11 percent.

But the big winner in the poll was “Do Not Know,” the option that pulled in more than 50 percent, reflecting the disinterest most Houstonians appear have towards the race.

Council elections

Houston has a 16-member city council, made up of 11 members representing districts assigned letters A-K, and five at-large positions. All 16 council members are up for election, as is the city controller, the position Parker held before being elected mayor.

Incumbent City Controller Ronald Green is unopposed.

The lack of a real contest in the mayoral race has driven voter participation down 20 percent from the last municipal elections in 2009, sending candidates scurrying for every available vote.

With Parker at the top of the ticket, several LGBT candidates are among those vying for a seat at the council table.

In at-large position 2, transgender candidate Jenifer Rene Poole and gay candidate Bolivar “Bo” Fraga are among the crowded field of 10 jockeying for position in the race.

Poole has the support of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, the Houston Stonewall Democrats and the Houston Young Stonewall Democrats, while Fraga has the endorsement by the term-limited position incumbent, lesbian political veteran Sue Lovell.

Other position 2 candidates are Eric Dick, Elizabeth Perez, David Robinson, Kristi Thibaut, Griff Griffin, Rozzy Shorter, Andrew Burks and Gordon Goss.

In District C, gay candidate Josh Verde is one in a field of five contenders, including former state Rep. Ellen Cohen, who has the backing of the GLBT Political Caucus and Stonewall.

Other District C candidates are Brian Cweren, Karen Derr and Joshua Verde.

Gay candidate Mike Laster enjoys the endorsement of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the GLBT Political Caucus and both Stonewall clubs in his District J race. Laster has handily outstripped his two rivals — Rodrigo Canedo and Criselda Romero — in both fundraising and endorsements, but the race remains highly contested.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Fort Worth elections round-up

UNOPPOSED | Openly gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, right, pictured here with his partner J.D. Angle, is unopposed in this bid for a second full term on the council. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Conservative’s ‘voter guide’ offers some warnings for LGBT voters and their allies

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth residents will head to the ballot box Saturday, May 14, to cast their ballots in elections that will decide who will replace Mike Moncrief as mayor and who will make up the City Council.

Those choices could have a significant impact on how the relationship between the city government and Cowtown’s LGBT community continues to develop in the years ahead.

District 9 Councilman Joel Burns — Fort Worth’s first and so far only openly gay councilmember — is running unopposed for his second full term on the council. And District 8 Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks, considered the LGBT’s strongest non-gay ally on the council, is also unopposed in her re-election bid.

Also unopposed in District 3 incumbent W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman, who voted in favor of adding protections for transgenders to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.

But other two other councilmembers who, over the last 18 months since the Rainbow Lounge raid, have voted in support of LGBT-positive efforts including an amendment adding protections based on gender identity and gender expression to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, face challengers this time around.

And in District 7, incumbent Carter Burdette — who voted against the trans protections — is not running for re-election, leaving a field of five candidates to fight for his seat. Those challengers include Jack Ernest, who called the transgender protection ordinance “damnable” at a candidate forum last month.

While no LGBT political organization in Tarrant County has issued endorsements in the council elections, conservative Christian activist the Rev. Richard Clough has issued a “voter guide” that polls the candidates on their views on 10 “precepts,” a list that includes questions on same-sex marriage and the trans protection ordinance.

The guide could serve as a warning as much for LGBT voters and their allies as for the right-wing conservatives Clough was apparently targeting.
Clough, an evangelist with Kenneth Copeland Ministries, issued the voters’ guide earlier this month under the name Texans for Faith and Family. Only nine of the total 22 candidates running for either mayor or City Council replied.

Candidates were asked to say whether they strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with Clough’s “20 precepts,” statements that ran the gamut from legalizing casino gambling to support for Israel. Only four of the 10 specifically addressed issues actually pertinent to city governance.

The three precepts related to LGBT issues were “Marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman;” “City tax dollars should not be used to advertise with the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender) community” and “The city’s Transgender Ordinance is not a needed law.”

Of the five candidates running for mayor of Fort Worth, only two — Betsy Price (whose first name was misspelled “Besty” on Clough’s printed guide) and dark horse Nicholas Zebrun — replied to Clough.

Zebrun disagreed with all Clough’s precepts concerning defining marriage and spending money to promote the city to LGBT tourists and conventions, and he “strongly disagreed” that the trans protection ordinance is not needed.

Price, however, agreed that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman, and “strongly agreed” that tax dollars should not be used to promote Fort Worth as a destination for LGBT tourists.

Price did not respond to the precept regarding the trans protection ordinance.

District 2 incumbent Sal Espino, who has supported LGBT-positive initiatives, did not reply to Clough’s precepts, while his challenger, Paul Rudisill indicated strong agreement across the board with all 10 precepts.

Another incumbent who supported LGBT-positive initiatives on the council is Frank Moss who is facing two challengers in his District 5 re-election bid.

Neither Moss nor challenger Charles Hibbler responded to Clough’s precepts, but the third candidate, Rickie Clark, indicated strong agreement for nine of the 10. She didn’t respond to the precept at “Sharia law should not be allowed to be practiced in the United States.”

In District 6, incumbent Jungus Jordan replied with “strong agreement” to all 10 precepts. His opponent, Tolli Thomas, did not respond to Clough’s voter guide.

Dennis Shingleton was the only District 7 candidate who did not respond to the voters guide. Ernest “strongly agreed” with all 10 precepts, while John

Perry agreed with the three anti-gay precepts and either agreed or “strongly agreed” with the remaining seven.

District 7 candidate Lee Henderson did not respond to the precept on defining marriage, and disagreed with the precepts on LGBT advertising and the transgender protection ordinance. The fourth candidate, Jonathan Horton, did not respond to the precepts on LGBT advertising or defining marriage, but did agree that the transgender protections ordinance is unnecessary.

District 4 incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem Danny Scarth faces challenger Lupe Arriola in his re-election bid. Neither candidate responded to Clough’s voter guide precepts.

—  John Wright

Natinsky gets endorsement nod from DGLA

REACHING OUT | Dallas mayoral candidates, from left, Mike Rawlings, Ron Natinsky and David Kunkle listen to a speaker during the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance PAC endorsements screenings. All three of the major candidates sought the DGLA endorsement, which eventually went to Natinsky. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Organization’s list of endorsed candidates includes some significant difference compared to Stonewall Democrats’ list

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s political action committee has released the list of candidates the PAC is backing in the upcoming Dallas city elections. Endorsed candidates include Ron Natinsky for mayor and Angela Hunt for City Council District 14.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas had issued its endorsements earlier, and for the first time, the two lists differ considerably. DGLA is nonpartisan, whereas Stonewall’s bylaws allows that organization to only endorse Democrats.

Stonewall backed former police chief David Kunkle for mayor and James Nowlin against incumbent Hunt.

All three major candidates for mayor sought the backing of both groups. Natinsky withdrew his request from Stonewall when his eligibility was questioned because he is Republican.

At the time, Stonewall President Omar Narvaez pointed out that some of his group’s members supported Natinsky and he thanked the candidate for addressing their meeting.
DGLA has endorsed Natinsky previously in two of his council elections.

Mike Rawlings sought the endorsement of both groups, spoke at a Stonewall meeting and appeared at the DLGA candidate forum. Hoever, DGLA issued a warning along with its mayoral endorsement.

“Mr. Rawlings’ passion for commerce and business interests supremely overwhelms his appreciation for the civil rights of all people,” DGLA President Patti Fink wrote in her endorsement email.

The statement was crafted by the PAC, debated and approved, according to DLGA PAC Chair Damien Duckett. He said that the majority of time spent in deciding whom to endorse was spent on the mayor’s race.

“Our interviews are confidential,” Duckett said, “So we can’t divulge details of the conversation.”

But he said that after speaking to Rawlings, the whole group was left with a sense of frustration. Still, he called the endorsement in the mayor’s race a hard decision.

Neil Emmons is a Rawlings supporter who said he was surprised by the warning against his favored candidate.

“When he [Rawlings] came in on the homeless issue, he didn’t know anything about it. He studied, learned best practices and became the best advocate for The Bridge. That speaks volumes about who he is,” Emmons said. “And he did the same thing on the park board.”

Duckett disagreed.

“His work with the homeless didn’t have a lot to do with civil rights and GLBT equality as it relates to business,” he said.

Duckett said there was a painstaking process that took weeks before coming up with the endorsements. That included reviewing candidate questionnaires, interviews and a candidate forum.

“The three candidates represented different things to us,” he said.

Duckett said that Kunkle was an extraordinary man who’s had an impact on the city and identifies with neighborhoods. He called Rawlings the CEO-type who would be great for economic development.

But Natinsky “seemed like the perfect marriage of both of those,” Duckett said. “He has the experience to hit the ground running. He already has a presence in the community. So many of the qualities we were looking for.”

Both Stonewall and DLGA did agree on some council races. Both are backing Pauline Medrano in District 2 and Scott Griggs in District 3. In the last election, DGLA supported District 3 incumbent Dave Neumann.

Duckett said that DGLA addressed charges that Medrano opponent Billy MacLeod has leveled, claiming yard signs have been stolen and contributors intimidated with city inspections.

Duckett called Griggs “a genuine guy who has the experience to understand the complexities of the district and ideas on how to develop the southern sector.”

DGLA endorsed Luis Sepulveda in District 6 while Stonewall threw its support to Monica Alonzo.

Duckett said Sepulveda has been involved in important quality-of-life issues in the district for decades. He also cited Sepulveda’s previous public service as a justice of the peace and involvement in social justice issues as reasons the group threw their support to him.

Both organizations endorsed Casie Pierce in District 7. Pierce, who is lesbian, is challenging incumbent Carolyn Davis, who did not seek either group’s backing.

For District 10, DGLA backed Jerry Allen, whom they have supported in the past. Stonewall endorsed Cynthia Durbin. Duckett said they would have liked to talk to Durbin more, but she arrived late for her candidate’s screening on a day that was booked and she did not attend the public candidates’ forum.

For District 12, DGLA made no endorsement because William Tsao did not come to his interview. He attended the DGLA candidate’s forum and had already received Stonewall’s nod.

Duckett said the endorsement for District 14 was easy and handled quickly. He called Angela Hunt someone who has worked hard to represent the LGBT community.

In that race, Stonewall endorsed Nowlin in a close vote.

Three other candidates received endorsements from DGLA in races where Stonewall did not endorse. DLGA is backing Sheffie Kadane in District 9, Linda Koop in District 11 and Ann Margolin in District 13. All three are incumbents and all have appeared in Dallas’ gay Pride parade.

Duckett mentioned that Margolin has attended Log Cabin Republican of Dallas events. Log Cabin does not make endorsements in non-partisan races.

—  John Wright

‘This is what we get for voting for a clown’: Reykjavik mayor opens gay Pride in drag

Reykjavik Mayor Jon Gnarr, left, dressed in drag for the opening ceremonies of his city’s Pride festival.

I am sure that most people would agree that there’s a lot of funny business going on in politics. But when it comes to Reykjavik, Iceland, it’s not the kind of political funny business you might think.

In June, the citizens of Reykjavik elected top comedian Jon Gnarr as mayor. Gnarr ran for office on a platform that promised free towels at swimming pools and a new polar bear for the Reykjavik zoo. His Best Party won the council elections after promising transparency in government and used campaign videos of the candidates singing along to Tina Turner’s “Simply The Best.”

Gnarr had promised that, as mayor, he would appear at the city’s Pride festival. And this week, he made good on that promise: appearing in drag at the opening ceremonies. His blond drag persona told the crowd the mayor could not attend himself because “he’s busy, even though he promised to be here.”

Gnarr added: “What might he be up to? Maybe he is visiting Moomin Valley [the fictional setting of a series of Finnish children's stories that feature a family of white hippopotamus-like trolls]. This is what we get for voting for a clown in elections.”

Iceland, by the way, became the first country with an openly gay head of state last year when Joanna Sigurdardottir became prime minister.

Go to BBC to read more.

—  admin