MacLeod says past mistakes make him a better candidate

Candidate is challenging incumbent Pauline Medrano in Dallas’ District 2

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Bill MacLeod has run for a seat on the Dallas City Council before. In the last election, he pulled in about 23 percent of the vote against incumbent Councilwoman Pauline Medrano. MacLeod said that wasn’t bad for a candidate that had every one of his signs stolen.

And that was a big jump up from his first race. In 2003, he ran against John Loza and got just 4 percent of the vote.

MacLeod.Billy-use-this-one
Billy MacLeod

This time, MacLeod said, he’s learned enough about running a council race that he thinks he can win.

“I have a team together and a strategy,” he said.

“Pauline is adored by the community,” he said, referring to Medrano who represents part of Oak Lawn. “But where is her voice on issues that matter?”

MacLeod cited the recent Dallas Voice article that noted that of the more than 50 discrimination complaints the city received since the LGBT non-discrimination ordinance passed, none has been prosecuted.

Medrano, along with District 14 incumbent Angela Hunt, said they were looking into the matter.

MacLeod called that “reactive at best.”

Among the candidate’s top concerns is last summer’s tax increase.

“She [Medrano] was the swing vote on taxes,” he said, a charge opponents throw at Hunt as well.

He said his solution is to increase revenue to the city, not raise taxes. And he has several ideas that he said haven’t been looked at.

MacLeod mentioned the North Texas Tollway Authority, the deal AT&T got to locate in downtown Dallas and the low rate at which the city sold land to the Perots to build the arena as bad deals and possible revenue sources.

While some of this examples are done deals, MacLeod said new deals are always being made behind closed doors, and he wants to make sure those previous mistakes aren’t repeated.

MacLeod said that this election would be different: “This time we have people listening.”

In the last election, MacLeod accused Medrano’s people of targeting anyone who had one of his signs in their yard. He said her
campaign called 311 to complain about legally placed signs and had the city pick them up.

MacLeod said that changing demographics in the district should work in his favor. New apartments in the Design District and renovated and new housing in The Cedars south of downtown have added 2,500 new voters to the district, he said.

MacLeod believes this is the election to win. It would be Medrano’s fourth and final term if she wins.

“If we don’t replace the incumbent, they’re going to hand this over to one of their own,” he said.

MacLeod grew up in New York but graduated from W.T. White High School in Dallas and attended college in Texas.

He was a student at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches when, he said, he and his mother simply ran out of money. So he joined the Navy and served for four years. Upon discharge he returned to Texas and finished his degree.

Today, MacLeod is a consultant helping companies manage call centers.

He said his background wasn’t perfect.

“Bad behavior plagued me,” he said, acknowledging that he had a DWI and misdemeanor arrests and making no excuses for that.

“I’m not running despite my behavior,” he said. “I’m running because of it.”

MacLeod said that after his DWI, he worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. His other arrests led him to work with the homeless and with Dallas shelters.

MacLeod said he is passionate about helping the less fortunate.

“If I didn’t go through that myself, I wouldn’t have been able to help hundreds of kids that I got into treatment programs, kids that I got back with their families, kids that I introduced to Phoenix House,” he said. “I would never have been able to go under the bridges and talk to the homeless guys. Stay with them. Do street solutions. Put some of these guys to work. I would never have been able to reach out to the addicted population.”

In working on other campaigns, MacLeod said he hired homeless people to distribute fliers and put out yard signs.

MacLeod asked the LGBT community to take a good look at both candidates.

“Who is out there fighting for the Resource Center?” he said. “Who is out there fighting for Cathedral of Hope? Who is out there fighting for the LGBT community?”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Lesbian mother wins first fight in custody battle

Judge’s ruling gives Debie Hackett standing to fight for visitation with son from previous relationship

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Dallas District Judge David Hanschen ruled in June that a non-biological mother could assert her right to pursue visitation with and access to a child she raised since birth.

Kim Ferris, the biological mother, argued that Texas law prohibits the non-biological parent from seeking the right of visitation.
She and former partner Debie Hackett decided together to conceive a child with donated sperm and raised and cared for the child together.

Hanschen’s ruling was one simple sentence.

“After reviewing the pleadings of counsel, relevant case law, and my own hearing notes, the court denies Kimberley Ferris’ plea to jurisdiction in the above referenced cause,” he wrote to the three attorneys involved.

The ruling did not grant visitation, but denied Ferris’ move to dismiss the case and allowed Hackett to continue her pursuit of parental rights.

Hackett said she knew Ferris for 10 years and they had been in a relationship since 2007. They discussed having children early in their relationship and decided Ferris would have a child first, based on her age, Hackett said.

Ferris conceived with sperm donated by Carlos Rojas, a gay man who both women had known for seven years.

The women’s relationship ended in November 2009. “When Oliver was 11 months old, she asked me to leave,” Hackett said. Hackett moved out of the house and said she gave Ferris 30 days “to come to her senses.” After the women broke up, Ferris filed to change the child’s name from Hackett-Ferris.

After reading a story in Dallas Voice in December about a court decision in favor of Kristie Vowels, a non-biological mother, Hackett retained legal counsel.

Attorney Jonathan Winacour, who represents Hackett, said Texas law gives a non-custodial parent that has cared for a child for at least six months just 90 days to file a motion.

Ferris and Rojas retained separate attorneys in the case, but neither returned calls from Dallas Voice.

Before the child’s birth, Ferris wrote that she wanted Hackett to have “all the rights and responsibilities available in the state of Texas as a parent.”

The hearing established that Hackett shared full duties as a parent. To prove her involvement, she produced records that showed she paid for clothing, food, diapers, development classes and health care.

Their pediatrician testified that she understood that Hackett had medical decision-making power.

Winocour emphasizes that this case is not about establishing same-sex marriage, but simply about what is best for the child.

In his arguments, Winocour made the case that the father is not a legal resident and is less likely to be able to maintain a residence within 100 miles. The father’s paternity was not established for a year and was not on the birth certificate until after Hackett and Ferris broke up.

Winocour said that waiting a year is grounds for establishing abandonment in Texas.

Hackett said she is not trying to prevent Rojas from participating in raising the child. She simply wants standard visitation rights. She said she is in the best position to provide health insurance and has a stable home and income to benefit her son.

“The three of us made a contract to bring a child into this world. I’m not going away. This is my son,” Hackett said.

On Wednesday, July 14, Winocour filed a motion seeking an order compelling mediation in advance of a hearing on temporary orders. All sides would be required to appear before a mediator.

If mediation were successful, Hanschen’s court would presumably instate those orders. If not, the case would return to his court for further hearing.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 16, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas