Hateful anti-gay flier prompts Dallas City Council to review speaker rules

Sheridan.Rich

 

On Tuesday we wrote about an anti-gay flier attacking Dallas City Council candidate Leland Burk that was found in a newspaper box in Preston Hollow on Election Day. We also mentioned that a copy of the flier had suspiciously been included in an email sent out by fellow District 13 candidate Rich Sheridan a few days later. Well, as if we needed any more evidence that Sheridan was responsible for the flier, he was distributing an even more hateful version of it at City Hall today, according to The Dallas Morning News’ Rudy Bush. The latest flier, shown above, is a distortion of Dallas Voice’s April 26 cover showing the three openly gay City Council candidates this year, with X’s through their faces and 6′s on their foreheads.

“God’s voice was heard in Dallas Saturday. No openly gay LGBT City Councilmember!!” the flier states, referring to the fact that all three gay candidates lost their races.

Sheridan, who received just 28 votes out of 10,350 that were cast in the District 13 race, also left a threatening, profanity-laced voicemail for a People Newspapers reporter, attacking him for failing to mention in his coverage that Burk is gay. But it was his actions at City Hall today that got the attention of officials. According to The DMN’s Bush, Sheridan was distributing copies of the flier to the audience during the City Council meeting when he gave one to gay former Councilman Craig Holcomb, who later stood up to address the council.

“If I were quiet that would be wrong,” Holcomb said. “It allows that kind of thought to flourish. It allows the person to think that is acceptable thought, and it is not acceptable.”

In response to Sheridan’s flier and Holcomb’s comments, Councilman Dwaine Caraway asked Mayor Mike Rawlings to change the rules so that speakers can address the council only once a month, to limit the amount of hatred that can be spewed by people like Sheridan. Councilwoman Angela Hunt seconded Caraway’s suggestion.

Of course, council members could also send a strong message to Sheridan and other haters by unanimously approving a resolution backing marriage equality and LGBT employment protections that they’re scheduled to vote on in June.

Watch video of the meeting by going here and clicking on Open Microphone Speakers (Part 2 of 2). Holcomb is the final speaker.

—  John Wright

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.

—  Anna Waugh

Weisfeld calls Medrano ‘no show opponent,’ challenges him to a debate

Herschel Weisfeld and Adam Medrano

Herschel Weisfeld, left, and Adam Medrano

Openly gay real estate developer Herschel Weisfeld is calling out opponent and DISD Trustee Adam Medrano for failing to appear at City Council District 2 candidate forums.

Wesifeld sent out an email today highlighting Medrano’s absence at an arts forum in March where organizers couldn’t reach Medrano’s campaign to confirm his appearance after hearing from volunteers that he’d attend. Medrano told the Dallas Morning News he had a scheduling conflict that night.

Weisfeld also mentions that Medrano didn’t attend a LULAC 102 breakfast to meet the candidates April 6, where only he and Ricky Gonzales were present.

“A conversation of the candidates before the community is a critical part of the democratic process for the voters to see the differences in each of the candidates running in this important election and in making their choice when going to the polls,” Weisfeld said in his email.

Contacted by Instant Tea, Medrano said Weisfeld was “running a negative campaign because his campaign is not going well.”

“Our campaign’s going great,” Medrano said. “I just have to stay positive and focus on my campaign.”

Medrano said he’ll be at the Deep Ellum Community Association’s event at 7 p.m. tonight at Kettle Art Gallery, 2714 Elm St.

Medrano said he also plans to attend the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s forum at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Sue Ellen’s.

—  Anna Waugh

District 2 candidates to discuss the arts at forum tonight

From left, Herschel Weisfeld, Adam Medrano, Ricky Gonzales and Vernon Franko

Candidates in Dallas City Council District 2 will discuss their views for the arts within the district at a forum tonight.

Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition is sponsoring the forum and sent candidates a questionnaire asking them about their level of support for the arts, including if they are on any boards and how they would attract convention business.

Herschel Weisfeld, Adam Medrano, Ricky Gonzales and Vernon Franko are running to replace term-limited Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano in the heavily LGBT district, which includes most of Oak Lawn, as well as parts of downtown and East Dallas.

The forum is from 5-7 p.m. at KERA, 3000 Harry Hines Blvd.

—  Anna Waugh

Time for Medrano to come out

Having a closeted council member representing one of Dallas’ most heavily LGBT districts in 2013 would be a major step back for equality

John Wright

Twenty years ago this May, Craig McDaniel shattered a glass ceiling when he became the first openly gay candidate elected to the Dallas City Council.

Since then, Dallas has had four openly gay council members, including McDaniel. Two of them, John Loza and Chris Luna, were Hispanic and represented District 2, which is arguably Dallas’ most heavily LGBT district.

This year, another gay Latino candidate is running in District 2, Adam Medrano. However, unlike Loza, Luna and two of his opponents, Herschel Weisfeld and Vernon Franko, Medrano has chosen not to be open and honest about his sexual orientation — even though he was once arrested after allegedly engaging in homosexual sex in a public bathroom.

Last week, Dallas Voice posed a simple question to Medrano: “Are you gay?”

“I’m not going to discuss that,” Medrano responded. “I don’t think that sexual orientation is an issue in the race.”

While I suppose this response is preferable to an outright lie — such as the one Medrano told when he denied being gay in an interview with Dallas Voice last year — it’s hardly the type of transparency voters should expect from someone who’s asking for their trust with the public’s business.

On an LGBT level, Medrano’s efforts to cover up his sexual orientation seem to imply that he thinks there’s something wrong with being gay — that he’s somehow ashamed of it. And let’s face it, it’s this type of shame that has often led closeted gay people to seek out anonymous sex in public bathrooms. Would history repeat itself if he is elected to the council?

Another problem with closeted gay elected officials — even if they are generally supportive of the community on a policy level, as Medrano appears to be — is that they tend to avoid LGBT issues because they’re afraid of being outed.

Medrano has been in office for seven years as a Dallas Independent School District trustee, thrice being elected president of the school board. Medrano and his LGBT supporters tout his vote in 2010 in favor of the district’s fully inclusive anti-bullying policy. But this policy passed unanimously, and Medrano wasn’t among trustees who led the charge publicly. Meanwhile, other important LGBT issues, such as domestic partner benefits for district employees, have gone largely undiscussed at DISD.

Furthermore, Medrano could have accomplished more for LGBT youth than any policy by simply coming out and serving as a positive gay role model — living proof that it gets better.

But the school board is one thing. Having a closeted City Council member representing a heavily gay district would undeniably be a major step backward for the Dallas LGBT community in 2013.

Which is why it’s so difficult to understand why one so-called LGBT advocacy group, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, would choose to endorse Medrano.

Even though many Stonewall leaders are aware of Medrano’s sexual orientation, no one brought it up during the group’s recent candidate screenings.

That’s probably because some feared the wrath of the powerful Medrano family, which had many members in the room and is a force in the Dallas County Democratic Party.

Mind you, though, this is the same organization that put so much stock in electing an openly gay council member two years ago that it was willing to stab a staunch LGBT ally in the back to endorse her out challenger.

Medrano, because of his family name, as well as the fact that District 2 overlays much of his school board district, remains the odds-on favorite to win the seat.

Coming out wouldn’t hurt Medrano’s chances, and in fact it would probably help him among the district’s many LGBT voters.

But remaining in the closet could hurt him, especially among LGBT voters who may wonder how he can represent their interests if he can’t even represent his own.

LGBT political experts have long said that when gay candidates try to hide their sexual orientation, it ends up becoming an even bigger issue.

That’s why the best approach for Medrano would simply be to acknowledge that’s he’s gay and move on to the real issues facing the city — both LGBT and otherwise.

John Wright is senior editor of Dallas Voice. He can be reached at Editor@DallasVoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 22, 2013.

—  Kevin Thomas

Weisfeld tries to use Dallas Voice article against Medrano in District 2 race

Adam Medrano

Adam Medrano

Herschel Weisfeld is using our article about Adam Medrano refusing to discuss his sexual orientation to campaign against him for the District 2 Dallas City Council seat.

We’ve received reports that his volunteers, as well as Weisfeld himself, are handing out a photocopy of the article with Weisfeld fliers.

Weisfeld said his campaign made the decision to hand out the story with campaign information after District 2 voters who’d seen the story asked why they weren’t using it to campaign with.

“They felt it has validity,” Weisfeld said. “They have a right to be fully informed.”

—  Anna Waugh

Herschel Weisfeld files in District 2

Herschel.Weisfeld1

Herschel Weisfeld

Gay real estate developer Herschel Weisfeld made his bid for City Council District 2 official today.

He filed for Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano’s District 2 seat, which she is vacating due to term limits.

Wiesfeld’s been heavily involved in the arts and historical preservation spheres, starting the Sara Ellen and Samuel Weisfeld Center in honor of his parents. He said he’s excited about the race and looks forward to sharing his diverse experience of cultural knowledge and civic engagement in Dallas with voters.

“I’ve had an active presence and I think it’s important for people to know that I would bring a diverse experience and knowledge to the council to all the diverse communities I’m a part of and have worked with,” he said. “At this point, I think it’s a choice between someone who’s worked on a lot of things instead of someone with a single focus like my opponents.”

DISD trustee Adam Medrano, Pauline Medrano’s nephew, filed for the seat earlier this month after resigning from his position in the Park and Recreation department in January. Community activist Ricky Gonzales has also filed.

Vernon Franko, who’s also gay and ran for District 14 in 2011, returned a Dallas Voice candidate questionnaire and filed a treasurer’s report for District 2. He’s expected to file for office. The deadline to file is March 1.

Dallas hasn’t had an openly gay council member since Ed Oakley resigned in 2007 to run for mayor. Two past openly gay council members, Chris Luna and John Loza, have served District 2.

The district covers most of Oak Lawn, as well as parts of downtown and East Dallas, making it one of the gayest council districts.

Pauline Medrano has been a staunch LGBT ally during her time on the council, riding in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and agreeing to support pro-equality two resolutions expected to go before the council this spring in favor of marriage equality and a statewide ban on anti-LGBT job discrimination. Medrano was on the DISD school board when its LGBT nondiscrimination policy passed. And he, too, has ridden on the Dallas Tavern Guild’s float alongside his aunt over the years.

Weisfeld has been active in Dallas’ LGBT community, announcing his candidacy for City Council at last year’s Pride parade. He is a founder of the Oak Lawn Stakeholders Crime Watch group.

Medrano hasn’t returned our calls seeking comment about his run for his aunt’s seat, but he recently launched his campaign and website.

—  Anna Waugh

Adam Medrano resigns from city; showdown with Weisfeld looms

Adam Medrano

DISD trustee Adam Medrano has resigned from his position as a supervisor in the Park and Recreation department— presumably so he can run for the District 2 seat on the Dallas City Council in May, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Under new maps approved by the council last year, District 2 covers most of Oak Lawn, as well as parts of downtown and East Dallas. The seat is currently held by Pauline Medrano, a staunch LGBT ally who is Adam Medrano’s aunt.

Adam Medrano, one-time president of the Dallas school board, has appeared more than once alongside his aunt on the Dallas Tavern Guild’s float in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

The other major candidate who’s declared his candidacy in District 2 is Herschel Weisfeld, who’s openly gay, setting up a showdown for the LGBT vote in what is arguably the city’s most lavender district.

Dallas has not had an openly gay council member since Ed Oakley stepped down to run for mayor in 2007.

Medrano did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

—  John Wright

Gay Dallas real estate developer announces candidacy for City Council

Gay Dallas real estate developer Herschel Weisfeld announced his intention to run for the District 2 Dallas City Council seat on Thursday.

District 2 Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, District 14 Councilwoman Angela Hunt and District 11 Councilwoman Linda Koop will reach the four-term limit in 2013. Both District 2 and 14 are heavily LGBT.

Weisfeld will officially launch his campaign at Dallas Pride on Sunday with a float in the parade. He said it was the perfect way to introduce himself as a candidate to the district with the slogan “uniting our diverse city.”

“We realized since District 2 cuts right down the center of Cedar Springs, the fact that we are the ninth-largest city in America [and] without a gay or lesbian representation on our City Council, that Pride would be a perfect time to kick off the campaign,” he said.

Weisfeld has been involved in civic affairs for many years and is known for restoring an old church into a performing arts center he renamed the Sara Ellen and Samuel Weisfeld Center after his parents. He said his background in business and finance will help the council re-evaluate plans for environment, quality of life, bike paths and connecting alternative modes of transportation.

“The issues that pushed me toward running was planning for the next 30 to 50 years, not just the next three to four years,” he said. “I think those are things that will play a long-term role in the future of the city of Dallas for the generations to come, not for the years to come.”

Weisfeld said his diverse background in the gay, Jewish and Hispanic communities, as he is bilingual, will help him relate to the diverse communities in District 2 and help the art venues, entertainment districts and communities thrive.

“These are all very important pieces of the city of Dallas that I believe I’ve got the experience and the exposure to a wide variety of issues that will be important and that will be educational components for me that I can bring to the table to the benefit of all of the citizens of Dallas,” he said.

Read Weisfeld’s full announcement below.

—  Anna Waugh