FEEDBACK: Stonewall Dems still relevant

Stonewall Dems still relevant

Stonewall Democrats continues to be an important and relevant voice in the civic life of GLBT Dallas. In fact, most candidates seek out the opportunity to interview and screen with Stonewall in election years.

If Stonewall were irrelevant, as some seem to imply from recent comments via Instant Tea and elsewhere, these candidates would not take the time to seek out the endorsement.

Whenever there is a hotly contested election, invariably one side gets upset and calls the organization “irrelevant.” That is a natural response.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas has a fair, and open endorsement process, and any member in good standing is welcome to participate in that process.

With that said, however, I think I need to say that we don’t automatically endorse a candidate just because he or she happens to be gay. We consider each candidate in his or her entirety.

We certainly consider whether a candidate is a member of the GLBT community, but that isn’t the only thing we consider when making endorsements.

As a longtime member and former officer of Stonewall, I have seen and participated in many endorsement and candidate screenings over the years. This time it is fair and accurate to say that our Membership and Endorsement Committee was split right down the middle with regard to Angela Hunt and James Nowlin in the race for Dallas City Council District 14.

I couldn’t help but notice what seemed to be a generational divide in this particular race. What I noticed was that younger Stonewall members — under 40 — tended to back Nowlin. Those who are more mature (ok, call us old if you must) Stonewall members — over 40 — tended to back Hunt.

There were exceptions of course. But I think this is, overall, a fair and accurate statement.

While the vote on the Endorsement Committee was razor-thin, at the end of the day Nowlin received the most votes and, hence, he received the Stonewall endorsement. I personally supported Angela Hunt because I think she has done a superb job as a member of the City Council. She does her homework and knows the issues facing this city inside and out.

Another reason I personally chose to back Angela Hunt is because she’s not afraid to buck the establishment when necessary. I think it’s important to have people on the Dallas City Council who are fighters, and won’t just be a rubber stamp.

At the end of the day, Hunt won almost every single precinct in District 14, so the voters not only in the M Streets and Lakewood area, but also in Turtle Creek/Uptown, Oak Lawn, all the way up to Greenway Parks and Bluffview clearly feel like Ms. Hunt is doing a good job representing them.

I applaud Mr. Nowlin’s enthusiasm. He’s a bright and articulate young man, and I think he learned an important lesson by running, namely that it’s difficult to beat a very popular incumbent.

Jay Narey

—  John Wright

James Nowlin says he didn’t congratulate Angela Hunt because she ‘does not want the job’

James Nowlin

The other day we reported that openly gay candidate James Nowlin had failed to congratulate Angela Hunt after she defeated him in the District 14 Dallas City Council race. In response to our post, commenters on Facebook suggested that Nowlin did congratulate Hunt — during a concession speech at his election night watch party. So today we contacted Nowlin — who hadn’t returned our phone calls from Saturday night — seeking clarification.

Nowlin explained that he did “wish [Hunt] the best” during his speech at the watch party. However, he said he doesn’t plan to contact her directly or congratulate her.

“I will not be congratulating somebody who does not want the job,” Nowlin said. “I will not be reaching out to her directly because I don’t believe that that’s where her heart is. Her heart is in being mayor, not being councilwoman for the 14th district. And I don’t believe in congratulating somebody who does not want the job.”

—  John Wright

James Nowlin fails to congratulate Angela Hunt

Angela Hunt, left, and James Nowlin

Late Saturday we put in calls to both Angela Hunt and James Nowlin, after it was clear Hunt had easily defeated Nowlin on her way to a fourth and final term representing District 14 on the Dallas City Council.

In a race that sharply divided the LGBT community over the last few months, Hunt captured 67 percent of the vote to Nowlin’s 28 percent. Hunt is a staunch LGBT ally who was endorsed by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. Nowlin is openly gay and was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

Neither Hunt nor Nowlin called us back right away — or if they did we were already gone and they didn’t leave messages. However, we noticed that both have now posted thank-you notes to supporters on their websites.

Interestingly, Hunt indicates in her note that she didn’t receive a phone call from Nowlin congratulating her. In fact, she doesn’t even mention Nowlin.

“Lastly, I received messages of congratulations from two of my opponents — Brian Oley and Vernon Franko — and I thank you for your gracious words,” Hunt writes. “You both ran positive, issue-driven campaigns, and it was a pleasure getting to know you.”

Nowlin doesn’t congratulate Hunt in his thank-you to supporters, either.

“Although we did not achieve a victory on Election Night, we put the 14th District on notice that one in three voters expects more,” Nowlin writes. “We have made a difference. This is just the beginning.”

It’s a shame the bad blood apparently continues between these two. Let’s hope the LGBT community can bury the hatchet, even if certain candidates can’t.

—  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

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: 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

Community split over District 14 race

Angela Hunt, left, and James Nowlin

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

Of the 14 races for Dallas City Council in the May 14 election, District 14 has been the most hotly contested race.

When incumbent Angela Hunt delayed her decision to run for re-election while considering a bid for mayor, several other candidates jumped into the race. Two withdrew after Hunt announced her intentions.

Of the remaining three challengers, James Nowlin has raised the most money. His campaign has included newspaper and billboard advertising.

Vernon Franko has also advertised consistently. Brian Oley, a fourth candidate, has done little campaigning.

The race has split the LGBT community mostly between Hunt and Nowlin, and campaign rhetoric has gotten nasty.

Patti Fink said she has no signs in her yard this election. Fink is the president of Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, which endorsed Hunt. Fink’s partner, Erin Moore, is immediate past president of Stonewall Democrats, which endorsed Nowlin.

Current Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said, “I think that the LGBT community is energized by this race no matter which side you’re on. You have strong opinion on both sides.”

Steven Graves ran an ad, independent of any candidate’s campaign, taking Hunt to task. The ad quotes from council minutes and claims Hunt has been late or absent for 80 percent of council meetings missing 189 votes.

DGLA PAC chairman Damien Duckett took issue with the ad. He said the missed votes include the consent agenda twice, which average 70 items. The total number of missed votes referred to in the ad could be little more than a couple of consent agenda votes, he said.

“Those items have already been discussed and there’s already consensus,” Duckett said.

But Graves has other issues with the incumbent.

“A few people have stated that she is a big supporter of our community, but they can’t tell me one example that she has accomplished for us,” Graves said of Hunt. “Claiming that you’re a big supporter is far different than actions that produce beneficial results for the community she serves.”

Nowlin said that the city is at a crossroad.

“We will have a new mayor soon and we are going through the worst economy since the Great Depression,” he said. “This is no time for politics as usual or for the grandstanding of a single, ineffective incumbent politician. As a new member on the Council, I will work well with the mayor and the rest of the council to move Dallas forward.”

Hunt said she appreciated DGLA’s endorsement and valued the work of Stonewall. Despite losing that endorsement, she said she attended the Stonewall meeting after the vote.

“Dallas is fortunate to have such a passionate, informed and engaged LGBT community,” Hunt said. “I’ve worked hard to address LGBT issues on the council and I’m proud to represent this community.”

With four candidates in that race, if no one receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will face a run-off on June 18.

“I’ve never seen the community get so energized in a municipal race before,” Narvaez said.

District 3

While DGLA and Stonewall disagreed on a number of races when it came to endorsements, they agreed on the District 3 race. Both endorsed challenger Scott Griggs over incumbent Dave Neumann.

Griggs challenger in any council race endorsed by the Dallas Morning News.

District 3 includes a large LGBT population in the Kessler Park, Stevens Park and Kiest Park neighborhoods of Oak Cliff.

“We’re disappointed in Neumann as a councilman,” said Duckett, explaining DGLA’s endorsement decision.

“Scott is the right person for the district and the council,” Narvaez said. “He will move things forward and won’t let the district fall apart as the incumbent has.”

Bob Watchorn, president of the Summit Lawn neighborhood association near Kiest Park, has served on the board of DGLA and is a Neumann supporter.

“He’s been instrumental in helping our neighborhood association,” Watchorn said. “He’s helped with code compliance and crime in the neighborhood and coordinated our work with the police.”

District 2

Both DGLA and Stonewall endorsed incumbent Pauline Medrano in her bid for a fourth term representing District 2, which includes part of Oak Lawn.

“I don’t think anyone works harder or more hours,” Narvaez said.

He cited the number of burned out streetlights in her district Medrano has reported.

“That’s safety,” Narvaez said, also mentioning her support for Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats’ Light Up Oak Lawn project.

Challenger Billy MacLeod said he thinks the election has gone well and thanked his supporters in the LGBT community, mentioning Monica Greene.

“I’ve been successful in exposing my opponent’s lack of concern for voter fraud problems,” he said.

MacLeod said he was disappointed at not having received the endorsements of LGBT groups, but added he would continue to be an advocate for the community.

He acknowledged the difficulty of unseating an incumbent but said he had “a shot at going over the top.”

“Only one sitting council member has been defeated in the last 30 years,” he said.

District 7

The two LGBT groups also both endorsed Casie Pierce in District 7.

The Morning News failed to endorse in that race because Pierce had a misdemeanor theft and a DWI on her record.

“I think people can learn from their mistakes,” Duckett said. “She has been a great advocate for her neighborhood and her district and I think she’ll serve them well.”

He cited a basic lack of constituent services in the area and called the incumbent, Carolyn Davis, a complete failure.

Narvaez also said Pierce’s past shouldn’t be held against her.

“Some of these things were when she was 19,” Narvaez said. “She made a mistake and she learned. I think she has a great chance of winning that district.”

The DWI occurred in 1995.

—  John Wright

Gay supporter of Eddie Bernice Johnson says HRC's apology for false e-mail not enough

I just received an e-mail from James Nowlin of Dallas, a steering committee member for Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s re-election campaign, about the Human Rights Campaign’s e-mail this morning which erroneously said Johnson voted against repealing “don’t ask don’t tell.”

Needless to say, Nowlin is not amused about the gaffe, which HRC has chalked up to a “technological glitch.” I’ve posted Nowlin’s full statement after the jump, but in short he says that in making the error HRC “kicked a true ally.” He adds that, “In the battle for human rights, there is little room for error,” and that, “A simple apology is not enough.”

“My hope is that HRC will understand the seriousness of its error. HRC’s goal should be to win and keep allies, not to mistakenly sully their reputations,” wrote Nowlin, who is a member of HRC’s DFW Federal Club.

Also, I’ve learned that constituents of Illinois Congressman Tim Johnson, who did in fact vote against DADT repeal, may have been on the other end of the glitch. Tim Johnson’s constituents reportedly received e-mails from HRC asking them to thank him for the vote in support of equality. And from what I gather, Tim Johnson’s gay supporters are equally miffed because the e-mail has given people the false impression that he isn’t anti-gay. Oops.

—  John Wright