DGLA endorses Kingston in runoff

Kingston.PhilipThe Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance has endorsed Philip Kingston in the District 14 Dallas City Council runoff. Kingston faces Bobby Abtahi in the June 15 election. Abtahi has the backing of Stonewall Democrats. DGLA originally endorsed Jim Rogers, who finished third among seven candidates and out of the runoff on May 11.

DGLA PAC chair Damien Duckett said his organization believes Kingston has the same sort of independent spirit as incumbent Angela Hunt, who is stepping down due to term limits.

“It allows her to stand up on the council even when it’s not popular,” he said. “He made the PAC feel he’ll be that same sort of councilman.”

In deciding on the endorsement, PAC member Nell Gaither recused herself from the discussion because she had previously endorsed Kingston.

Duckett called the decision between Abtahi and Kingston difficult because PAC members like both of the candidates but felt Kingston was the stronger of the two.

Duckett said the group was impressed with Kingston’s performance at the DGLA forum held in March at Sue Ellen’s.

“One of the messages I tried to deliver at the forum was you can’t be the District 14 rep without reaching out to the LGBT community,” Kingston said.

Four of the seven candidates in the race skipped the forum.

“I like that group and I’m really excited about the endorsement,” Kingston said.

—  David Taffet

Dallas City Council candidates woo LGBT voters at DGLA forum

Candidates at the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s LGBT forum at Sue Ellen’s on April 14. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Candidates at the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s LGBT forum at Sue Ellen’s on April 14. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Eight candidates vying for the LGBT community’s vote in the May 11 City Council election spoke about their support and advocacy during the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s forum Sunday.

LGBT allies and incumbents Delia Jasso and Scott Griggs, who are facing off in a redrawn District 1, attended, as did DISD Trustee Adam Medrano and openly gay real estate developer Herschel Weisfeld in District 2, Claudia Meyer in District 3, and Bobby Abtahi, Philip Kingston and Jim Rogers in District 14.

Several candidates addressed the need of the city to provide more funding and education on HIV prevention, especially among young minorities. Weisfeld and Abtahi said the city should spend more funds on educational programs.

“When you prevent one person from contracting HIV, it pays for the whole program,” Abtahi said.

—  Dallasvoice

ELECTION: Mayor’s role vital for LGBTs

Gay former councilman says that choice between Rawlings, Kunkle means gay community ‘can’t lose’

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Even though Dallas has a “weak mayor” form of government where the city manager is the person with actual control over the city’s day-to-day operations, having mayor who supports LGBT equality is still very important for Dallas’ LGBT community, advocates said this week.

Voters go to the polls Saturday, June 18, to decide whether Mike Rawlings or David Kunkle will replace Tom Leppert, who resigned from office earlier this year to run to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the U.S. Senate. Although Leppert reached out to the LGBT community for votes, pledging his support on LGBT equality issues, when he ran against gay candidate Ed Oakley in 2007, in recent months he appeared to backtrack on those issues as he prepared for his senate campaign.

Ed Oakley

Oakley, a former City Council member, said this week that having elected officials who understand and embrace the diversity of the city played an integral part in progress the city has made on LGBT issues.

“We wouldn’t have passed [the] nondiscrimination [ordinance including protections for LGBT people] if Laura Miller wasn’t sitting in that [the mayor’s] seat,” he said.

Miller, who had campaigned on adding a nondiscrimination ordinance, put it at the top of her agenda when she came into office.

“The city manager could not have done that,” Oakley said. “The mayor accomplishes what he wants to accomplish.”

Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink agreed.

“Until Laura Miller made it [the nondiscrimination ordinance] a priority and put it on the agenda, it didn’t happen,” she said.

She said that although the city has a strong city manager form of government, the mayor can be an advocate, and he or she is the one that presides over the council that sets policy.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Omar Narvaez said the mayor is the face of the city.

“The mayor makes sure people and city services are being taken care of. He makes sure our civil rights are being protected. His big job is promoting the city,” Narvaez said.

And the city’s LGBT community can play a big role in who wins the seat this year.

In the general election on May 14, turnout in what are considered the top 10 precincts in the LGBT community, mostly in Oak Lawn and North Oak Cliff, was 38 percent, compared to a citywide turnout rate of only 11 percent.

Patti Fink

And if early voting totals are any indication, LGBT voters have the chance to play an even bigger role in the runoff outcome. In the May election, 46,109 people voted early in Dallas County.

In the runoff, only 27,962 voted early.

Narvaez said that because voter turnout is traditionally low in runoff elections, the LGBT community could decide the mayor’s race.

“People [in our community] were heavily engaged in this election,” Narvaez said. “I don’t see them suddenly not voting for mayor.”

While DGLA and Stonewall Democrats have both endorsed David Kunkle in the runoff, Mike Rawlings has the support of many members of the LGBT community, including several gay former elected officials.

Both candidates actively sought the endorsement of both DGLA and Stonewall, and both have actively campaigned in the community.

Oakley said that Rawlings’ life experiences are different than some members of the City Council that Oakely served with who did not support LGBT issues.

“He faced our issues in the corporate world,” Oakley said.

He said that Rawlings’ company, Pizza Hut, had nondiscrimination policies in place and embraced diversity.

Fink said Kunkle has a prove, and public, record on LGBT issues.

“Kunkle has a proven record working in the community and being an advocate for us,” she said, noting that as police chief, Kunkle turned the LGBT Dallas police liaison position into a fulltime position and presided over the police department while an officer transitioned without incident and with his support.

“And we worked with him on diversity training,” she said.

Former Dallas City Councilmember Chris Luna said, “The biggest role the mayor plays is cheerleader, spokesperson and figurative head of government.”

Chris Luna

He said that when something like the Rainbow Lounge raid in Fort Worth or a raid at a gay bathhouse happens, the mayor’s job is to say, “This is wrong. I’m going to go gather the facts.”

The mayor needs to know when something’s wrong, he said.

“That’s why so many people feel burned by Leppert,” he said.

Luna said that the mayor also appoints the chairs to all boards and commissions, which many council members served on before being elected to office and Rawlings was president of the park board.

The mayor makes committee assignments. When Councilmember Angela Hunt opposed Leppert’s positions, he took away those assignments away.

“The mayor helps distribute the power,” Luna said.

In the race between Kunkle and Rawlings, Luna said, “I have my preference, but from a community standpoint, we can’t lose.”

—  John Wright

Kunkle camp counting on LGBT voters for win

Mike Rawlings, left, and David Kunkle

It might look to some like frontrunner Mike Rawlings has the momentum building for an easy win in the Dallas mayoral runoff, but Kunkle supporters claim they are going to come from behind for an upset victory on June 18.

LGBT political activist Jesse Garcia said there are many “unknown factors” that could lead to a Kunkle victory. Runoffs traditionally produce poor turnouts, and without any South Dallas candidates being on the ballot there will be fewer votes cast from that area where Rawlings did so well in the election, Garcia said. Another unknown is the number of voters that abstained in the election but might vote in the runoff.

In a recent blog post I wrote that Rawlings had received endorsements from many past and present gay officials, and Garcia said that misrepresented where the majority of the LGBT community stands politically. “He only has certain key people, not the whole community lined up,” he said. Garcia added that Kunkle also has major support from LGBT “super activists” who contribute so much to civic affairs.

In fact, an analysis of the election results showed that Kunkle enjoyed strong LGBT support when he came in second behind Rawlings. In the 10 precincts where the most LGBT voters are believed to live, the Dallas Voice analysis showed Kunkle took 44 percent of the vote in those precincts, to Rawlings 37 percent.

Garcia also noted that it is unclear how those people who voted for Ron Natinsky, who failed to make the mayoral runoff and threw his support behind Rawlings, will actually vote. The runoff in District 12 for Natinsky’s former council seat is also on the ballot, so presumably many of his supporters will be returning to the polls, along with District 14 voters that traditionally turn out in large numbers.

—  admin

It’s probably time for LGBT groups to start paving new political inroads to mayor’s office

Mike Rawlings, left, and David Kunkle

In terms of flexing their political muscle, Dallas’ LGBT political activists have shown a somewhat lackluster performance in the municipal election this year.

Businessman Mike Rawlings, the apparent frontrunner in the mayoral race that concludes in a runoff election June 18, failed to receive endorsements from either Stonewall Democrats of Dallas or the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance Political Action Committee. Instead, DGLA endorsed Ron Natinsky, the losing candidate in the election, and Stonewall Democrats endorsed David Kunkle, who came in second and faces Rawlings in the runoff. DGLA even expressed reservations about Rawlings, and the group has endorsed Kunkle in the runoff.

But Rawlings, who enjoys the endorsements of The Dallas Morning News, most current and former elected officials — including gay ones — and even Natinsky, appears to be headed for victory. Kunkle, the former Dallas police chief who proved himself to be a good friend to the LGBT community, is greatly admired and respected in the LGBT community, but it just doesn’t look like he is going to be our next mayor.

Given all of that, maybe it’s time for LGBT political leaders to start paving a political inroad to a potential Rawlings mayoral administration. We’ve enjoyed remarkable access to the mayor’s office for many years now to our enormous benefit, and we sure don’t want to lose that.

In the District 12 council runoff, there is an opportunity to elect Sandy Greyson, who as a former councilwoman voted favorably on LGBT issues during her previous four terms in that seat. Greyson, who also is endorsed by The Dallas Morning News, stepped down because of terms limits and passed the seat to Natinsky, who also proved himself to also be an ally. Greyson’s opponent in the runoff, financial planner Donna Starnes, is an unknown factor in regard to LGBT issues. As a Tea Party member and organizer, her alliances could possibly put her on a collision path with our community.

However the runoff turns out, the LGBT community seems to be on solid ground with so many political allies already seated, despite the fact that two openly gay candidates lost their bids for council places. But it never hurts to be on the winning side in politics, especially at the top of City Hall

Early voting in the runoffs continues through June 14. You don’t have to have voted in the May election to vote in the runoff. For a list of early voting times and locations, go here.

—  admin

Turnout key in Dallas mayoral runoff

Mike Rawlings, left, and David Kunkle

Kunkle, Rawlings pledge to stay on message; advocates say LGBT vote could have significant impact

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Turnout. That’s the key for Dallas mayoral candidates who wrangled their way into runoffs after the May 14 general elections.

Mike Rawlings and David Kunkle are facing off in the June 18 runoff, and both said this week that turnout and support in the LGBT community will play key roles.

Gay former Dallas City Councilman Ed Oakley knows something about runoff strategies. Four years ago, he lost his bid for mayor in a runoff with Tom Leppert. Oakley said this week that Rawlings and Kunkle “have about five weeks now to get their voters re-energized to go back to the polls” on June 18. It won’t be an easy task.

“They have to raise about the same amount of money they raised for the general election [to pay for] advertising on TV, mailers — all the same things they paid for before,” Oakley said. “On top of that, the candidates will end up having to do all the debates all over again.

“It’s totally different in a runoff. Messages get refined,” he added. “In my race, we ran a great ground campaign and we raised the money, but we got off message. The media started targeting the gay issue” — Oakley was in a position to become the first openly gay mayor of a large U.S. city, which became a focus in the media — “and that became such a big issue that our message got lost.”

Oakley also predicted that Kunkle, who got 32 percent of the general election vote, faces an uphill battle against Rawlings, who ended the general election with 41 percent. Rawlings outspent all three of his general election opponents, while Kunkle relied on a strong grassroots effort.

“You have to hand it to [Kunkle] and his staff. They ran a great grassroots campaign to get into the runoff. But while the grassroots campaign is great, in a runoff he has to be able to spend the money to reach out to different voters, and I think he is going to be a little handicapped,” Oakley said.

Kunkle himself said this week that “in the most simple terms, I have to get my voters out a second time and try to get as many of [third-place finisher] Ron Natinsky’s supporters over to my side as possible.”

Kunkle said he will focus on his vision for the city, and will work to differentiate himself from Rawlings and his approach to governing Dallas.

“We are two different people with different backgrounds, different values and different decision-making processes,” Kunkle said. “I know this city, its neighborhoods and its people, and my priority is creating strong, livable neighborhoods, and building a good future for the city by driving sustainable economic development.”

Rawlings said his efforts leading up to the runoff will be to “do what I always do, which is look at what has worked and keep doing that.”

Rawlings said he will focus on “improving in areas where I did well [in getting votes], but also looking at those areas where I didn’t knock it over the fence and try to improve there, like in Angela Hunt’s district, District 14.”

Rawlings said he believes his message in the general election “resonated well with the voters,” considering that he garnered 41 percent of the vote, and he believes that those who supported Natinsky before will be drawn to his campaign now.

“I think my message as far as economic development and focusing on growth as a city matches up very nicely with what Natinsky’s supporters are looking for.”

Both Rawlings and Kunkle said they believe support in the LGBT community is essential for a runoff victory.

“I have always appreciated so much the friendships I have had for a long time in the LGBT community and the new friendships I have made during this campaign,” Rawlings said. “I think the LGBT community is a great example of what makes Dallas strong, and that is inclusion, rather than exclusion.

“More than that, I think it comes down to how we treat each other and the degree of civility involved. That should go beyond group to group; it’s about individual to individual. Government should do a better job in that area, and I have decided I will make a difference in that” if elected.

Kunkle pointed to his long-standing relationship with the LGBT community dating back to his days as Dallas police chief.

“I have the support of Stonewall Democrats, and I won all the precincts that are identified as strong GLBT precincts,” Kunkle said. “One of the things that makes Dallas successful as a city is that it is a cool place to live, and it has a growing economy, and I think people in the GLBT community can feel comfortable coming to Dallas, given the equal opportunity here in employment and the strong community that exists here.

“And the reason [LGBT people] come to Dallas is not because it has this giant downtown where you can go work in some corporate headquarters, but because it has strong neighborhoods and a strong community. That’s what I want to help to grow and improve.”

LGBT support

Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink and DGLA PAC Chair Damien Duckett this week agreed that the LGBT community could have a significant impact on the outcome of the mayoral runoff.

DGLA endorsed Natinsky in the general election, and Duckett said the PAC is meeting Friday, May 20, to “determine whether we want to recommend a new slate of candidates for the runoff, and that include the mayor’s race, since our endorsed candidate didn’t make it through.”

But, Duckett said, DGLA isn’t considering new endorsements just because the organization’s original candidate didn’t make the runoff.

“It’s our responsibility to make a recommendation to our community, based on the candidates who are available,” he said. “We have a responsibility to make sure our community hears from us.”

In issuing endorsements for the general election DGLA not only backed Natinsky, the organization also issued a “warning” against Rawlings, saying his strong focus on business and economic development might override his commitment on civil rights issues.

Duckett said one issue that concerns him in the runoff is “whether the candidates are keeping honest. This is the runoff; this is sudden death. And this is where candidates can get desperate and start slinging mud, where they start making promises they don’t intend to keep and showing false sincerity in paying attention to issues presented to them.

“I hope our mayoral candidates are being honest instead of just saying something that is politically expedient,” he added. “I hope the voters and the media will really pay attention to what is said in the coming weeks and how that measures up to what was said in the general election.”

Fink pointed out that especially in elections where turnout is low — as was the case with the May 14 general election in Dallas and is likely to be the case in the June 18 runoff — the LGBT community, if it turns out in force, “has a real opportunity to have our votes become more inflated in terms of influence.”

She pointed to the District 6 council race where Monica Alonza, endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, defeated Luis Sepulveda, endorsed by DGLA. Only 1,035 people voted in that race, with Alonzo getting 634 votes to Sepulveda’s 401.

“If we [DGLA] had just mobilized 200 people in our community in District 6 to get out in vote on Election Day, that would have been huge in that race. That would have been one-fifth of the total electorate in that race,” Fink said.

“Turnout is, historically, much lower in runoffs, and the smaller the number of total votes in an election, the more impact each vote has,” she added.
“Our community, if we will turn out and vote, could have tremendous impact on who is the next mayor of Dallas.”

Watch the May 27 issue of Dallas Voice for coverage of the mayoral runoff in Fort Worth’ and in Chris Hightower’s runoff effort to become the first openly gay member of the Arlington City Council.

—  John Wright

DGLA likely to endorse David Kunkle, as PAC chair stands behind warning about Mike Rawlings

Damien Duckett

The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s Political Action Committee is scheduled to meet Friday to consider re-endorsing in the mayor’s race, after DGLA-backed candidate Ron Natinsky finished third and failed to advance to the June 18 runoff.

Damien Duckett, chair of the PAC, indicated that given DGLA’s previous “warning” against top vote-getter Mike Rawlings, the group is likely to get behind second-place finisher David Kunkle, who already has the backing of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

“We’ll talk about it,” Duckett told Instant Tea this morning. “Obviously we issued a very strong warning against Rawlings previously, so I can’t see him being considered, but I don’t make those decisions unilaterally. That’s up to the PAC. We’ll have to re-evaluate everything when we come back together.”

Duckett said it’s possible DGLA will request follow-up interviews with Kunkle and Rawlings, or send them another questionnaire. The warning about Rawlings could be re-issued or even rescinded, although the latter seems unlikely.

DGLA’s warning said Rawlings’ “passion for commerce and business interests supremely overwhelms his appreciation for the civil rights of all people.”

According to DGLA, the warning was based on statements Rawlings made in response to a question about requiring city contractors to have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies. In response to DGLA’s warning — which one of his prominent gay supporters called “irresponsible” and “immature” — Rawlings has adamantly denied that he would ever put economic development ahead of civil rights. But Duckett said he stands behind the warning.

“I think it was absolutely the right thing to do,” Duckett said when asked whether he’s concerned that the warning could come back to haunt the LGBT community if Rawlings, widely considered the favorite in the runoff, becomes mayor.

—  John Wright

James Nowlin fails to congratulate Angela Hunt

Angela Hunt, left, and James Nowlin

Late Saturday we put in calls to both Angela Hunt and James Nowlin, after it was clear Hunt had easily defeated Nowlin on her way to a fourth and final term representing District 14 on the Dallas City Council.

In a race that sharply divided the LGBT community over the last few months, Hunt captured 67 percent of the vote to Nowlin’s 28 percent. Hunt is a staunch LGBT ally who was endorsed by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. Nowlin is openly gay and was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

Neither Hunt nor Nowlin called us back right away — or if they did we were already gone and they didn’t leave messages. However, we noticed that both have now posted thank-you notes to supporters on their websites.

Interestingly, Hunt indicates in her note that she didn’t receive a phone call from Nowlin congratulating her. In fact, she doesn’t even mention Nowlin.

“Lastly, I received messages of congratulations from two of my opponents — Brian Oley and Vernon Franko — and I thank you for your gracious words,” Hunt writes. “You both ran positive, issue-driven campaigns, and it was a pleasure getting to know you.”

Nowlin doesn’t congratulate Hunt in his thank-you to supporters, either.

“Although we did not achieve a victory on Election Night, we put the 14th District on notice that one in three voters expects more,” Nowlin writes. “We have made a difference. This is just the beginning.”

It’s a shame the bad blood apparently continues between these two. Let’s hope the LGBT community can bury the hatchet, even if certain candidates can’t.

—  John Wright

David Kunkle wins the gay vote — or at least the 10 precincts with the most same-sex couples

David Kunkle finished second overall to Mike Rawlings, but data shows Kunkle won the gay vote.

Former Police Chief David Kunkle won the gay vote for Dallas mayor on Saturday, according to an analysis of election results by Dallas Voice.

Kunkle captured 44 percent of the vote in what are considered Dallas’ 10 most heavily LGBT precincts. Former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Rawlings finished second in the LGBT precincts with 37 percent, followed by City Councilman Ron Natinsky with 17 percent.

Kunkle, endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, finished second overall in the four-way mayor’s race, with 32 percent of the vote. He advances to a June 18 runoff against Rawlings, who captured 42 percent of the overall vote. Natinsky, who was endorsed by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, received 25 percent overall.

The city’s 10 most heavily LGBT precincts have been identified by Stonewall Democrats based on the highest concentration of same-sex couples according to the 2009 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Turnout in the 10 LGBT precincts was about 18 percent, compared to about 14 percent citywide, according to the Voice’s analysis.

—  John Wright