Candidate forums set for Saturday, Monday

Damien Duckett

As we noted in today’s cover story, candidates for Dallas mayor and City Council will attend a forum Saturday hosted by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s Political Action Committee. The forum begins at 2 p.m. at Kiest Park Recreation Center, 3080 S. Hampton Road, and it will follow an open question-and-answer format.

The three major mayoral candidates — David Kunkle, Mike Rawlings and Ron Natinsky — all plan to attend the DGLA forum. Damien Duckett, chairman of the DGLA PAC, said other City Council candidates who are scheduled to attend include Casie Pierce, Pauline Medrano, Billy MacLeod, Luis Sepulveda, James Nowlin, Cynthia Durbin, Scott Griggs, Dave Neumann, Angela Hunt, Jerry Allen and Sheffie Kadane.

• The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League will host a political forum Monday evening, and District 3 City Council candidates Scott Griggs and Dave Neumann both reportedly plan to attend. OOCCL President Michael Amonett said each will have 40 minutes for questions and answers with the voters and the League.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. at Avalon at Kessler Park, 2522 Fort Worth Ave. (Avalon is next to the Fort Worth Avenue Home Depot.)

—  David Taffet

Ron Natinsky isn’t eligible for Stonewall’s endorsement, but he’s screening for it anyway

Ron Natinsky

Twenty-four candidates in local municipal elections are seeking the endorsement of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. The LGBT group will screen candidates on Saturday at Resource Center Dallas before voting on which horse to endorse in each race.

Those scheduled to appear Saturday to seek Stonewall’s endorsement include all four candidates for Dallas mayor. However, according to Stonewall’s bylaws, Ron Natinsky isn’t eligible for the group’s endorsement because he’s a Republican. The group’s bylaws read: “No member of the Republican Party, candidates in the Republican Primary, nor Republican candidates in a General or Non-Partisan Election are eligible for endorsement by this Organization. Endorsements may be made in Dallas County non-partisan elections if the candidate has a Democratic Party primary election voting history and/or affirms allegiance to the Dallas Democratic Party.”

Natinsky has been endorsed by some prominent gay Democrats, including Ed Oakley and Chris Luna, but it looks like Stonewall will be choosing between David Kunkle and Mike Rawlings.

In District 14, Stonewall members will have to decide between openly gay challenger James Nowlin and incumbent Angela Hunt, who’s been a strong LGBT ally on the council. It’s great to see gay candidates like Nowlin running for office, but I’d be shocked if Stonewall’s endorsement doesn’t go to Hunt.

In District 2, both challenger Billy MacLeod and incumbent Pauline Medrano are seeking Stonewall’s endorsement, which will undoubtedly to Medrano, who’s also a strong LGBT ally.

In District 3, only challenger Scott Griggs is seeking Stonewall’s endorsement. Griggs is running against incumbent Dave Neumann, who’s been endorsed by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance in the past but is not currently scheduled to appear on Saturday. We suspect Neumann is in the same boat as Natinsky when it comes to being eligible for the endorsement.

In District 4, Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway is seeking Stonewall’s endorsement for re-election to his council seat. Caraway, of course, is finishing out Tom Leppert’s term after Leppert stepped down to run for Senate. Caraway is a shoe-in for re-election, but it’s good to see that he’s scheduled to appear on Saturday.

In District 7, openly gay challenger Cassie Pierce is the only candidate scheduled to seek Stonewall’s endorsement on Saturday. Pierce is running against incumbent Carolyn Davis.

Stonewall will screen candidates from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Resource Center Dallas. Only those with their membership dues as of Feb. 17 may vote.

A full press release, including a list of all candidates who are scheduled to appear, is after the jump.

—  John Wright

Neighborhood activist takes on incumbent

Scott Griggs

Scott Griggs says District 3 Councilman Dave Neumann doesn’t have the neighborhood’s interests as a top priority

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

In campaigns, gas drilling is usually a state vs. federal government concern. In Dallas, it could be a deciding factor in a single council district race since challenger Scott Griggs has raised the issue in his race for city council against District 3 incumbent Dave Neumann.

The massive Dallas City Council District 3 covers more than 50 square miles — an area larger than the city of San Francisco.

Potential drilling sites include Red Bird Airport and Mountain Creek, an area that is closer to Highway 360 in Arlington than it is to Downtown Dallas or even to Bishop Arts in Oak Cliff.

A controversial technique called “fracking” — slang for “hydraulic fracturing” — would be used to extract gas from underlying shale. Opponents have warned fracking could be responsible for recent earthquakes in North Texas and that chemicals used in the process may pollute the ground water.

Runoff from this area feeds Mountain Creek Lake, a source of drinking water for the southern sector.

At the Sept. 22, 2010 council meeting, Neumann called the Barnett Shale drilling proposals “a sweetheart deal” and “a great deal for the taxpayers of Dallas.”

Many in his district, including Griggs, disagree.

“He’s ignoring the effects on property values, quality of life, our air, our water, our health,” Griggs said. “I’ve been asking for a moratorium.”

Griggs said he would like more study to see what the effects would actually be.

Neumann has delayed a vote on the issue until October, allegedly to prevent drilling from becoming an issue in the May election.

Griggs describes District 3 as the donut that surrounds Delia Jasso’s compact District 1 donut hole.

Jasso represents much of north Oak Cliff. Neumann represents an area that includes the heavily LGBT-populated neighborhoods of Stevens Park in North Oak Cliff and the Keist Park neighborhoods further south.

Griggs has been active with the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group and the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce and served as Ed Oakley’s appointee to the Board of Adjustment.

He believes in development but criticizes the way Dallas often goes for big projects only. While new overpasses across the Trinity River would help Oak Cliff, Griggs said he worries about the cost of maintaining the faux suspension bridge being built.

In contrast to the way Dallas usually builds, Griggs said he prefers small projects and points to Jack’s Backyard as an example of how one person can help transform a neighborhood.

Kathy Jack, owner of Jack’s, said, “I couldn’t have gotten my business open without him.”

The city was preventing Jack from opening the restaurant without a paved parking lot.

Griggs explained that the area has flooding problems and no storm sewers. Paving the lot would have made flooding worse.

Jack finished the lot with gravel over a green product called Gravelpave that allows water to absorb into the ground.

“I went to the city of Dallas and they gave me 10 reasons why we couldn’t open,” Jack said. “He went to the city of Dallas with me and they approved my parking lot.”

“We always think that the biggest and sexiest development is best,” Griggs said. “But if you look at what happened with Bishop Arts, the city went in and invested $2.6 million.”

The city added parking, trees, wider sidewalks, crosswalks and enhanced pavement, he said, which made pedestrians feel welcome.

“Property values immediately adjacent to the improvements — 10 years ago the property was worth $1.7 million,” he said. “Now it’s worth $6.2 million. We’ve had 13 percent increase steady through two recessions.”

The city makes more money in Bishop Arts now on a Saturday night from taxes on alcohol sales than they did before with a year of property taxes, Griggs said.

He said that the success of the area is not being copied anywhere else in the city.

“Those are the types of revenue solutions we need to look at in these tough times,” he said. “Something Dallas has never looked at — small investments. We don’t do little. We’re all big and sexy.

“We think it’s an accident,” Griggs said of the success in Bishop Arts. “We think it’s quaint and it’s cute. It’s just an old streetcar neighborhood and we have those throughout the area.”

But, he said, the area’s success can be replicated.

Griggs mentioned that adding bike racks has brought additional traffic to Bishop Arts. He said he supports the plan to add bike lanes to streets and is a supporter of Bike Friendly Oak Cliff, a neighborhood group that encourages bike riding.

He also supports the extension of the trolley line across the Houston Street Viaduct and across Davis Street. Grants for the extension were obtained despite Neumann’s refusal to sign onto the project, Griggs said.

He charges Neumann with blocking other development in the area by moving money out of designated funds into the general fund, including rebuilding the pergola at Kiest Park and cleaning up the Hensley Field Naval Air Station, also within the district.

Griggs is married but counts the LGBT community as part of the base of his support.

Joseph Hernandez ran against Neumann in 2007. He served on the Landmark Commission and has known Griggs through their work at the city for eight years.

“The gay community is very tight knit and engaged and we know who our supporters are,” Hernandez said. “I believe he’s an advocate for us and would be very inclusive.”

Susan Melnick, who lives in District 3, said, “He and his wife are very progressive and he thinks outside the box.”
She called him thoughtful.

“Scott’s not going to just jump on the bandwagon,” she said. “He’s going to do his homework. ”

Melnick said she believes Griggs would always be very inclusive of the LGBT community.

“He’s always had gay and straight friends,” she said. “He’s very low-key. No ego there. I just adore him.”

Former Dallas Independent School Board member Jose Plata lives in the District and said he hasn’t been pleased with the representation of the incumbent and so is backing Griggs.

“Scott has a strong mind about strong neighborhoods,” Plata said. “Scott understands issues and would be a good spokesperson for the gay community.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Scott Griggs is running for Dallas City Council

Scott Griggs

Scott Griggs will announce his candidacy for the District 3 seat on the Dallas City Council on Monday, according to a press release we received this morning.

We don’t know much about Griggs, but his publicist is former Dallas Voice staffer Kris Martin, and his campaign coordinator is openly gay former DISD trustee Jose Plata. District 3, of course, is the seat once held by Ed Oakley for three terms until he stepped down to run for mayor in 2007. Since then, the seat has been held by Dave Neumann, who narrowly defeated gay candidate Joseph Hernandez in 2007. From the press release:

What: Oak Cliff resident and community leader, Scott Griggs, announces bid for Dallas City Council, District 3 post.

When: Monday, Dec. 13, 2010 @ 12:30pm

Where: Intersection Fort Worth Avenue and Jacqueline Drive (Northeast corner) near ALDI construction site and Cliff Manor Apartments.

Who: Scott Griggs is a proven business and neighborhood development leader in the City of Dallas. He has served in elected and appointed roles with Fort Worth Avenue Development Group, Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce, City of Dallas Board of Adjustment, Oak Cliff Transit Authority, Stevens Park Estates Neighborhood Association and helped create the Fort Worth Avenue Tax Increment Finance District. The young attorney and his wife, Mariana Tenorio Griggs, are passionate community volunteers who advocate for a livable, safe, sustainable and healthy District 3 and the City of Dallas.

Why: As a Dallas City Council representative, Scott Griggs will provide the strong, responsible, decisive, and trusted leadership that District 3 needs.

It goes on to say that Griggs’ campaign website, www.ScottGriggs.com and Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/ScottGriggs, will go live on Monday. City elections are in May.

—  John Wright