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 The warning about Rawlings could be re-issued or even rescinded, although the latter seems unlikely.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

What’s Brewing: Texas Legislature may limit access to drugs for thousands with HIV/AIDS

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Today is the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, also known as IDAHO, which commemorates the World Health Organization’s removal of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders on May 17, 1990. Activists in Dallas will mark the event for the first time this year, with a march and candlelight vigil beginning at the JFK Memorial downtown. For more info, go here.

2. As a House-Senate conference committee works to finalize the state budget, funding for the Texas HIV Medication Program hangs in the balance. The program, which provides life-sustaining drugs to low-income people with HIV/AIDS, needs an additional $19.2 million over the next two years to serve 3,000 anticipated new clients. The House version of the budget leaves out the needed funds, while the Senate version includes them. Now it’s up to the conference committee to resolve the discrepancy. If the committee doesn’t include the $19.2 million in the final budget, the program likely will be forced to turn away clients or otherwise limit access. Contact members of the House-Senate conference committee and urge them to fully fund the Texas HIV Medication Program by going here.

3. Now that David Kunkle and Mike Rawlings have advanced to a runoff for Dallas mayor, we’re hosting an LGBT forum for the two candidates next week at the Cathedral of Hope. A large turnout for the forum will serve as a reminder to Kunkle and Rawlings that the LGBT community in Dallas is a force to be reckoned with. For details or to RSVP, go here.

—  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

Rawlings, Kunkle headed to runoff; Griggs knocks off Neumann; Hunt cruises past Nowlin

District 3 Dallas City Councilman-elect Scott Griggs poses with his mother during a watch party at his campaign headquarters in Oak Cliff on Saturday. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Gay candidate Chris Hightower advances to runoff in Arlington

From Staff Reports

Former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Rawlings and former Police Chief David Kunkle are headed to a June 18 runoff for Dallas mayor.

Meanwhile, challenger Scott Griggs knocked off incumbent Dave Neumann for the District 3 Dallas City Council seat, and District 14 incumbent Angela Hunt easily staved off a challenge from openly gay candidate James Nowlin in a race that has sharply divided the LGBT community.

The only other openly gay candidate on the ballot in Dallas, Casie Pierce, lost to incumbent Carolyn Davis in District 7. However, openly gay candidate Chris Hightower advanced to a runoff for the District 5 council seat in Arlington.

Rawlings and Kunkle were the top two vote-getters in the Dallas mayor’s race, beating out City Councilman Ron Natinsky. Rawlings converted his huge fund-raising advantage into a strong showing at the polls, capturing 41 percent of the vote with 551 of 555 precincts reporting. Kunkle, endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, had 32 percent. Natinsky, endorsed by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, had 25 percent.

In District 3, Griggs captured 57 percent of the vote to Neumann’s 43 percent. Griggs, endorsed by both DGLA and Stonewall, will take over the Oak Cliff seat once held by gay Councilman Ed Oakley.

In District 14, Hunt captured 67 percent of the vote, to Nowlin’s 28 percent. Brian Oley was third with 4 percent, and Vernon Franko was fourth with 2 percent. Hunt was endorsed by DGLA, while Nowlin was endorsed by Stonewall.

In District 7, Pierce was backed by both DGLA and Stonewall as she vied to become the first out lesbian elected to the Dallas City Council. But Davis cruised to re-election with 61 percent, while Helene McKinney finished second with 21 percent and Pierce finished third with 18 percent.

In the Fort Worth mayor’s race, former Tarrant County Tax-Assessor Collector Betsy Price advanced to a runoff against former Councilman Jim Lane. Price received 43 percent of the vote to Lane’s 26 percent. Of the five Fort Worth mayoral candidates, Price was the one whose answers to a recent right-wing religious voters guide were the least LGBT-friendly. Fort Worth attorney and LGBT activist Jon Nelson, however, said he believes Price “has a good heart” but “just isn’t educated on gay issues.”

In the Arlington District 5 race, Hightower was the top-vote getter and advances to a runoff against incumbent Lana Wolff. Hightower captured 39 percent of the vote to Wolff’s 35 percent.

“Our supporters have really rallied behind us and behind our positive message,” Hightower said. “We have a positive message that goes back to the basics, and the voters have gotten behind that message. We feel the voters are saying they are ready for new leadership from a new generation.”

Hightower, who is endorsed by the Washington, D.C.-based Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said he’s looking forward to the runoff against Wolff.

“We feel good about where we are,” he said. “We have a broad base of support in the district, and we are going to just keep at it, keep delivering that positive message to the voters. We are ready to go. We came into this prepared for a runoff. We will still be doing some fundraising, but we are in good shape. We just have to put our heads down and keep going.”

In other Dallas races, District 2 incumbent Pauline Medrano handily defeated challenger Billy MacLeod, 75 percent to 25 percent.

In District 6, Monica Alonzo defeated Luis Sepulveda for the seat being vacated by Councilman Steve Salazar. Alonzo, endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, captured 61 percent to Sepulveda’s 39 percent. Sepulveda was endorsed by DGLA.

In the race to replace Natinsky in District 12, Sandy Greyson and Donna Starnes are headed to the only other Dallas runoff aside from the mayor’s race.

Incumbents Delia Jasso, Dwaine Caraway, Vonciel Jones Hill, Tennell Atkins, Linda Koop, Sheffie Kadane, Jerry Allen and Ann Margolin were all re-elected to the council.

 

—  John Wright

UPDATE: Mike Rawlings and David Kunkle appear headed to runoff for Dallas mayor

With 426 of 555 precincts reporting at 9:25 p.m., it sure looks like former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Rawlings and former Police Chief David Kunkle are headed to a June runoff.

Rawlings leads with 42 percent of the vote, and Kunkle is second with 32 percent. City Councilman Ron Natinsky is third with 24 percent, and he now trails Kunkle by more than 4,000 votes.

Rawlings has 25,245 votes to Kunkle’s 19,023 and Natinsky’s 14,683. Edward Okpa has 1,321 votes, or 2 percent.

 

—  John Wright

UPDATE: Rawlings continues to lead Dallas mayor’s race; Kunkle pulling away from Natinsky

With 202 of 555 precincts reporting, former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Rawlings continues to lead in the race for Dallas mayor. And it’s looking more and more like Rawlings will face former Police Chief David Kunkle in a runoff.

Rawlings has 43 percent of the vote, Kunkle has 30 percent, and City Councilman Ron Natinsky has 25 percent. Edward Okpa has 2 percent. Kunkle now leads Natinsky for second place by almost 2,000 votes, but there’s still a ways to go. Remember, the top two vote-getters will advance to a June runoff assuming Rawlings doesn’t eclipse 50 percent.

In other Dallas races, with 20 of 56 precincts reporting, challenger Scott Griggs has expanded his lead over incumbent Dave Neumann in District 3. Griggs now has 59 percent to Neumann’s 41 percent, and appears well on his way to a rare upset of an incumbent. Griggs is endorsed by both Stonewall Democrats and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

In District 14, with 11 of 59 precincts reporting, incumbent Angela Hunt maintains a hefty lead over gay candidate James Nowlin. Hunt has 63 percent to Nowlin’s 20 percent.

—  John Wright

Live-blogging tonight’s election results

UPDATE: Early voting results from Dallas are here.

I’m here at the Instant Tea Brewery, David Taffet is doing his best watch party pub crawl, and Tammye Nash is keeping an eye on things over in Tarrant County. Together we’ll be bringing you coverage of tonight’s municipal election results, so keep it right here.

The polls close at 7 p.m., and early voting results should be posted shortly therafter. In Dallas, about 26,000 people voted early, which amounts to about half of the expected overall turnout. This means the early voting results should give us a good idea where some races are headed. However, it could be 10 p.m. or later before Election Day results are posted and we know the final outcomes.

Races we’ll be watching most closely include:

Dallas mayor: David Kunkle, Ron Natinsky, Edward Okpa and Mike Rawlings are in a four-way battle to become the city’s next top elected official. If no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote tonight, we’ll have a June runoff between the top two vote-getters. Kunkle is endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, while Natinsky has the backing of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

District 14 Dallas City Council: Three-term incumbent Angela Hunt, a staunch LGBT ally, is being challenged by openly gay candidate James Nowlin, who’s endorsed by Stonewall Democrats and has raised the most money in the race. Hunt is endorsed by DGLA. The other two candidates in the District 14 race are Vernon Franko and Brian Oley. Again, if no one gets 50 percent tonight, we’ll have a runoff between the top two.

District 7 Dallas City Council: Casie Pierce is vying to become the first out lesbian elected to the council in the city’s history, but she faces an uphill battle against incumbent Carolyn Davis for this South Dallas seat. Also challenging Davis is Helene McKinney. Pierce is endorsed by both Stonewall Democrats and DGLA.

District 3 Dallas City Council: Incumbent Dave Neumann faces a stiff challenge from Scott Griggs for this Oak Cliff seat previously held by openly gay Councilman Ed Oakley. Griggs is endorsed by both Stonewall Democrats and DGLA.

District 5 Arlington City Council: Realtor Chris Hightower is vying to become Arlington’s first openly gay city councilman. Hightower, one of four candidates challenging eight-year incumbent Lana Wolff, is endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

Fort Worth mayor: Five candidates are vying to replace Mike Moncrief, who is not seeking re-election. They are Jim Lane, Cathy Hirt, Betsy Price, Dan Barrett and Nicholas Zebrun.

—  John Wright

Election night watch parties

Here’s a rundown of some of the election night watch parties for Dallas candidates on Saturday:

Mayoral candidates:

Ron Natinsky
The Loft
1135 S. Lamar St.

David Kunkle
San Francisco Rose
3024 Greenville Ave.

Mike Rawlings
Trece Restaurant
4513 Travis St.

City council candidates:

Angela Hunt
5125 Swiss Ave. (at Munger)

James Nowlin
Park Towers, 3310 Fairmount St., The Park Room
RSVP required for entry: CraigM@JamesNowlin.com or 214-446-8580 no later than Friday, May 13 at 3 p.m.

Scott Griggs
Griggs Campaign Headquarters
214 W. 12th St.

Casie Pierce
Eva’s House of Barbecue
2320 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (at US175 toward Fair Park)

Any others? Let us know.

—  David Taffet

Low turnout could amplify gay vote

Dallas mayoral candidates make final pitch to LGBTs

MORE ELECTION COVERAGE:
COMMUNITY SPLIT OVER DISTRICT 14 RACE
FORT WORTH ELECTION ROUNDUP

JOHN WRIGHT | Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

With turnout expected to be dismal for Saturday’s municipal elections, LGBT voters could play a pivotal role in determining which two candidates advance to an all-but-certain runoff for Dallas mayor.

It’s arguably the gay-friendliest field in the city’s history, with all three major candidates seeking the endorsement of both Stonewall Democrats and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. And all three — David Kunkle, Ron Natinsky and Mike Rawlings — have their share of high-profile supporters in a community that’s still smarting from the betrayal of former Mayor Tom Leppert.

Overall turnout in municipal elections is expected to hover around 10 percent, or just 50,000 of the city’s half-million registered voters. But with hotly contested council races in Districts 3 and 14, as well as a gay candidate in District 7, turnout among LGBT voters could be much higher.

“With a turnout as small as it’s predicted to be, for everyone who goes to the polls, their turnout almost counts multiple times,” Natinsky said this week. “Every vote becomes more important. We’re just trying to get voters out.”

In an interview with Dallas Voice, Natinsky again touted his record of support for the LGBT community during six years on the council, as well as the backing of three openly gay former councilmembers. Natinsky was also endorsed by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

“I have not hesitated from day one, or previous to that, over the years to participate and support the GBLT community,” Natinsky said. “I think I’ve got a lot of strong supporters and friends within the community, who are seriously out there working hard to help me get elected, and they wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t believe in me. And the difference is that I’m a proven quantity.”

Even in a nonpartisan race, Natinsky’s Republican Party affiliation could hurt him among some LGBT voters. But gay former Councilman Ed Oakley, a Democrat who lost a runoff for mayor to Leppert four years ago, said he doesn’t think it should.

“I’m supporting him because he’s the right person at the right time for Dallas, and I don’t care if he’s a Republican,” Oakley said recently. “I wish everybody would just put their partisan issues aside and look at the candidates, and support who you think is the best person.”

Natinsky initially sought the backing of Stonewall Democrats but withdrew from the screening process at the last minute over questions about whether his party affiliation would make him ineligible for the group’s endorsement.

Stonewall Democrats voted to endorse to Kunkle, the former Dallas police chief who this week predicted he will win the overall LGBT vote.

“I believe that I will be the one who will work the hardest to make their [LGBT residents’] lives better and also to help grow the economy in a way [in which] they will personally prosper,” Kunkle said. “I think I will do better [than the other candidates] within the LGBT community. I think the Stonewall Democrats’ support carries a lot of weight. … I’m not going to change who I am and what I believe. My core, basic way of thinking and reacting is not going to change, and that will be supportive of the GLBT community.”

Both Natinsky and Rawlings said recently during a forum that they opposed Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. But Kunkle said only that he didn’t vote on the amendment.

This week Kunkle clarified that if he did vote, he would have voted against the amendment.

“It seems to me that if two people love each other and want to commit to each other … that’s not a bad thing to happen in society,” Kunkle said.

Jesse Garcia, a past president of Stonewall who’s backing Kunkle, pointed to things like the former chief’s support for a full-time LGBT liaison officer at DPD.

“I’ve had the honor of meeting all four candidates for mayor. I respect their decisions to seek office and truly believe they want what’s best for Dallas,” Garcia said. “But when it comes to the LGBT community, Kunkle stands out as someone that was tested on LGBT issues and made the right call.”

Rawlings, who’s raised by far the most money and is perhaps an odds-on favorite to at least make the runoff, said his plan for economic development and philosophy of inclusion makes him the best candidate for the LGBT community.

“When this city is grown in the correct way, we all win, and most of the LGBT community I know are very pro-growth, are great professionals, and want to have a fabulous business environment,” Rawlings said. “We have the ninth-largest city in this country, and the more we include all the diversity throughout the city, I think the stronger we are.”

In endorsing Natinsky, DGLA issued a rare “warning” about Rawlings, saying the former Pizza Hut CEO’s “passion for commerce and business interests supremely overwhelms his appreciation for the civil rights of all people.”

But Rawlings has vehemently denied DGLA’s accusation, saying he demonstrated his willingness to stand up for people’s civil rights as the city’s homeless czar.

“I don’t think any CEO that I know has spent five years dealing and working with the homeless,” Rawlings said. “If I’m able to do that, I would think I could do it for groups that are much more powerful than them, and I think the LGBT community is one of them.”

Lesbian activist Pam Gerber, a member of both DGLA and Stonewall, has called DGLA’s warning about Rawlings “irresponsible” and immature.”

Gerber, also a member of a city task force on LGBT issues, said this week she’s supporting Rawlings because he has “the right combination of skills.”

“Whether it was him running a successful company or running a successful nonprofit endeavor, he’s proven that he can do it all, and I think that’s a valuable pallet of skills,” Gerber said. “I just think Mike has more to offer.”

But Gerber added that she doesn’t think any of the three major candidates would do harm to the LGBT community as mayor.

“I think they all have our best interests in mind,” Gerber said. “I think we’re really lucky to have the candidates we have. The only thing we’re not lucky about is the apathy of our community to get out and vote.”

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. For a full list of locations, go to www.dalcoelections.org.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Dallas police release names of murdered gay couple found in burned apartment

Dallas mayoral candidates Edward Okpa, from left, Mike Rawlings, Ron Natinsky and David Kunkle participate in a forum sponsored by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce on Monday night at Cityplace. (Photo courtesy of Avi S, Adelman)

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Last week Dallas police asked the media to hold off on publishing or broadcasting the names of a gay couple found murdered inside a burned Lake Highlands apartment, as they tried to locate the victims’ families. Laura Martin, DPD’s LGBT liaison officer, gave Instant Tea the go-ahead late Monday to publish the victims’ names. They are 59-year-old Michael Humphrey and 61-year-old Clayton Capshaw. We’ll have an update on the case later, but for now, anyone know these guys?

2. It’s still not too late to contact your state representative and ask them to support HB 1942, an anti-bullying bill from Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, that’s viewed as the last, best chance for the Legislature to address the issue in this year’s session. Daniel Williams at Legislative Queery reports that the House didn’t get to the bill as expected Monday but may take it up today when it re-convenes at 10 a.m. today. To read Equality Texas’ action alert on the bill and email your state rep, go here.

3. Above was the scene last night at Cityplace, where the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce hosted a sparsely attended forum featuring all four candidates for Dallas mayor. We’ll have more on the forum later, but for now here’s a teaser: Two of the three major candidates, Ron Natinsky and Mike Rawlings, said they were against Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. Rawlings said he voted against the amendment, and Natinsky said he opposed it but couldn’t remember whether he actually voted. The third major candidate, David Kunkle, said he didn’t vote in the November 2005 election when the amendment was on the ballot.

—  John Wright