Organization’s list of endorsed candidates includes some significant difference compared to Stonewall Democrats’ list
DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s political action committee has released the list of candidates the PAC is backing in the upcoming Dallas city elections. Endorsed candidates include Ron Natinsky for mayor and Angela Hunt for City Council District 14.
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas had issued its endorsements earlier, and for the first time, the two lists differ considerably. DGLA is nonpartisan, whereas Stonewall’s bylaws allows that organization to only endorse Democrats.
Stonewall backed former police chief David Kunkle for mayor and James Nowlin against incumbent Hunt.
All three major candidates for mayor sought the backing of both groups. Natinsky withdrew his request from Stonewall when his eligibility was questioned because he is Republican.
At the time, Stonewall President Omar Narvaez pointed out that some of his group’s members supported Natinsky and he thanked the candidate for addressing their meeting.
DGLA has endorsed Natinsky previously in two of his council elections.
Mike Rawlings sought the endorsement of both groups, spoke at a Stonewall meeting and appeared at the DLGA candidate forum. Hoever, DGLA issued a warning along with its mayoral endorsement.
“Mr. Rawlings’ passion for commerce and business interests supremely overwhelms his appreciation for the civil rights of all people,” DGLA President Patti Fink wrote in her endorsement email.
The statement was crafted by the PAC, debated and approved, according to DLGA PAC Chair Damien Duckett. He said that the majority of time spent in deciding whom to endorse was spent on the mayor’s race.
“Our interviews are confidential,” Duckett said, “So we can’t divulge details of the conversation.”
But he said that after speaking to Rawlings, the whole group was left with a sense of frustration. Still, he called the endorsement in the mayor’s race a hard decision.
Neil Emmons is a Rawlings supporter who said he was surprised by the warning against his favored candidate.
“When he [Rawlings] came in on the homeless issue, he didn’t know anything about it. He studied, learned best practices and became the best advocate for The Bridge. That speaks volumes about who he is,” Emmons said. “And he did the same thing on the park board.”
“His work with the homeless didn’t have a lot to do with civil rights and GLBT equality as it relates to business,” he said.
Duckett said there was a painstaking process that took weeks before coming up with the endorsements. That included reviewing candidate questionnaires, interviews and a candidate forum.
“The three candidates represented different things to us,” he said.
Duckett said that Kunkle was an extraordinary man who’s had an impact on the city and identifies with neighborhoods. He called Rawlings the CEO-type who would be great for economic development.
But Natinsky “seemed like the perfect marriage of both of those,” Duckett said. “He has the experience to hit the ground running. He already has a presence in the community. So many of the qualities we were looking for.”
Both Stonewall and DLGA did agree on some council races. Both are backing Pauline Medrano in District 2 and Scott Griggs in District 3. In the last election, DGLA supported District 3 incumbent Dave Neumann.
Duckett said that DGLA addressed charges that Medrano opponent Billy MacLeod has leveled, claiming yard signs have been stolen and contributors intimidated with city inspections.
Duckett called Griggs “a genuine guy who has the experience to understand the complexities of the district and ideas on how to develop the southern sector.”
DGLA endorsed Luis Sepulveda in District 6 while Stonewall threw its support to Monica Alonzo.
Duckett said Sepulveda has been involved in important quality-of-life issues in the district for decades. He also cited Sepulveda’s previous public service as a justice of the peace and involvement in social justice issues as reasons the group threw their support to him.
Both organizations endorsed Casie Pierce in District 7. Pierce, who is lesbian, is challenging incumbent Carolyn Davis, who did not seek either group’s backing.
For District 10, DGLA backed Jerry Allen, whom they have supported in the past. Stonewall endorsed Cynthia Durbin. Duckett said they would have liked to talk to Durbin more, but she arrived late for her candidate’s screening on a day that was booked and she did not attend the public candidates’ forum.
For District 12, DGLA made no endorsement because William Tsao did not come to his interview. He attended the DGLA candidate’s forum and had already received Stonewall’s nod.
Duckett said the endorsement for District 14 was easy and handled quickly. He called Angela Hunt someone who has worked hard to represent the LGBT community.
In that race, Stonewall endorsed Nowlin in a close vote.
Three other candidates received endorsements from DGLA in races where Stonewall did not endorse. DLGA is backing Sheffie Kadane in District 9, Linda Koop in District 11 and Ann Margolin in District 13. All three are incumbents and all have appeared in Dallas’ gay Pride parade.
Duckett mentioned that Margolin has attended Log Cabin Republican of Dallas events. Log Cabin does not make endorsements in non-partisan races.