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

WATCH: Gay and lesbian couples participate in Valentine’s Day mass wedding in San Antonio

Each year a mass wedding is held on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse in San Antonio. But this year for the first time, the event included nearly two dozen same-sex couples, KENS-TV reports:

It was a first for the grassroots movement. They quietly filed in with almost 150 couples who had marriage licenses. All of them listened as Joe Sullivan, an ordained minister and Valentine’s Day officiator of many years, gave instruction as well as advice.

The ceremony had ended and the same-sex couples had exchanged rings, vows and kisses before Sullivan was made aware his crowd of newlyweds was different this time.

“They don’t have a license,” Sullivan said. “If they took vows, it really means nothing.”

But the same-sex couples said they walked away feeling just like they were married anyway.

The thought of gay and lesbian couples in the event did not seem to bother some of the participants.

“In this day and age — whatever it is — I know my religion and faith in God,” newlywed Mark Aguilar said.

The San Antonio action is one of dozens of demonstrations planned across the country calling for marriage equality on Valentine’s Day, according to GetEQUAL. We’ve posted a list of events in Texas after the jump. As far as we know, nothing is planned in North Texas, although a lesbian couple that had been turned away from a private wedding chapel because of their sexual orientation married in a public ceremony Friday at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas. Publicist Kris Martin sent over the below photo of the couple, Tina Shaft and Tiffany Fenimore, posing for a NoH8 photo after the wedding, and the Dallas Observer has a nice write-up about the event. “They are a wonderful couple with a very supportive family,” Martin said in her e-mail. “I felt like mother of the brides.”


—  John Wright

Baldwin: ‘We will see brighter days ahead’

Congresswoman tells Black Tie audience not to give up hope; Wright applauds heroes who chose ‘never to hide a day in your lives’

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. To see a slideshow from Black Tie, go here.

During her keynote address at the 29th annual Black Tie Dinner on Saturday, Nov. 6, openly lesbian Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin wasted no time in acknowledging the apparent blow the Republican victories in this month’s midterm elections dealt to the LGBT community’s push for equality.

“I needed to get away. It’s been a tough week, a very painful week for many Americans,” Baldwin said.

But then she went on to reassure the more than 3,000 people packed into the Sheraton Dallas’ Lone Star Ballroom that “we will see brighter days ahead.”

Baldwin acknowledged that the community’s high hopes when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 have not, for the most part, been met. “There is frustration that we haven’t come far enough, fast enough, and I share that frustration.”

Recalling the last time that Republicans controlled Congress, Baldwin said efforts to secure LGBT equality were “rebuffed at every turn,” and she added that she is “not holding my breath” that things will be different this time, with Republicans controlling the U.S. House and the Senate nearly equally divided between the parties.

Although there is a possibility that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy could be repealed during the upcoming lame duck session, chances are “slim to none for now and for the foreseeable future” that passage of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and Baldwin’s own Domestic Partnership Benefits and Responsibilities Act and other LGBT-positive measures will happen.

“But that doesn’t mean that we will throw up our hands and give up,” Baldwin said, “because LGBT equality is a movement, not a moment in time.”

Baldwin’s theme of keeping up the fight and looking forward to better days reverberated throughout the evening, as Media Award winner Chely Wright related her life story to the crowd. She spoke of knowing from a young age that she was gay, and how she had struggled to keep her orientation a secret to try and earn — and later, preserve — her career in country music.

“Living two lives is quite a chore,” Wright said, as she talked about reaching a point where “I knew something had to give,” and the cold morning in 2006 when she went so far as putting the muzzle of a 9-mm pistol in her mouth.

But instead of pulling the trigger, Wright said, she prayed to God, as she had all her life. But this time, instead of praying for God to change her, she prayed that God would “give me a moment’s peace.”

Immediately, Wright continued, “oceans and oceans of peace washed over me,” and she knew that not only would she not take her own life, but that she would come out “as a gay woman, as a proud Christian and as an advocate for youth.”

Wright, who came put publicly only six months ago, acknowledged that others in the room had spent much longer fighting for LGBT equality.

“It is a bit of a strange thing to be honored by Black Tie Diner and this esteemed group of people. I look out and see so many of you who have not been able to or who have chosen not to hide a day in your lives, and to have you applaud for me is, well, it’s surreal,” she said.

“I look to you as heroes. … You are simply amazing to me. Thank you for leading the way,” she continued. “It is certainly not lost on me that you folks in this room tonight are the reason that the movement of equality, fairness and understanding continues to evolve.”

The evening began with an appearance by Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, whose personal and passionate speech before the council last month about teen suicide went viral as a YouTube video and turned him into a national sensation.

Burns reminded the audience that teen suicide and bullying continues to affect LGBT youth at an alarmingly high rate, and led the crowd in a moment of silence in memory of LGBT youth who have died.

After Broadway star Gavin Creel, backed by the Turtle Creek Chorale, performed, the Rev. Carol West, pastor of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth, came on stage to accept the Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

With a beaming smile, West recalled the early heroes of Dallas-Fort Worth’s LGBT community, reminding the crowd that “we stand on their shoulders” as the movement progresses. But, she added, the community leaders of today must also remember that the leaders of tomorrow “will someday stand on our shoulders.”

Employees of American Airlines were on hand to accept the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award on behalf of their company. Betty Young, director of Diverse Segment Marketing for the airline, said it was “a tremendous honor” for the company and its employees to receive the award.

“American Airlines has always been very involved in Black Tie Dinner and we certainly appreciate all they do. But for the company to be recognized this way, it caused tremendous excitement throughout the company and in each of us who touches this community,” Young said. “We are just honored beyond words.”

Ron Guillard, who co-chaired Black Tie Dinner this year with Nan Arnold, said organizers were “incredibly happy” with how the event turned out.

“And given the fact that we had a full ballroom, and considering how well the luxury auction went, we are feeling very optimistic about having a very generous amount to distribute to our beneficiaries this year,” he said. “We still have money to collect and some bills to pay, but I think this will be a very good year for our beneficiaries.”

Guillard noted that funds from the dinner will distributed to beneficiaries during a reception Dec. 9 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.

“We want to encourage the whole community to come out and be part of what is definitely the most important part of Black Tie each year,” Guillard said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens