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.

—  Dallasvoice

District 14 candidates to debate the arts as campaign forums begin in earnest

WylyDistrict 14 Dallas City Council candidates will gather at the Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. beginning at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss arts issues. The forum is sponsored by the Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition.

Topics will include arts funding, cultural tourism, economic development in and around the Arts District, maintenance of facilities and the neighborhood. The Arts District lies within District 14.

DACAC sent questionnaires to candidates asking about their support of the arts — such as which arts organizations they support and if they are on any boards. DACAC asked about using the arts in crime prevention and in attracting corporate relocations and convention business.

Arts are important to the district economically and past District 14 council members Craig McDaniel and Veletta Lill both chaired the council’s arts committee.

Seven candidates are vying for the District 14 seat, which is being vacated by the term-limited Angela Hunt.

DACAC also sponsors a District 2 forum on the arts next Monday, March 25, at KERA, 3000 Harry Hines Blvd.

Meanwhile, four candidates running for District 13 — including openly gay candidate Leland Burke — meet on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Marcus Recreation Center, 3003 Northaven Road west of Webb Chapel. That forum is sponsored by the Northwest Dallas Improvement League.

—  David Taffet

Veletta Lill joins 4 gay former council members in endorsing Bobby Abtahi

Lill.Veletta

Veletta Lill

Former District 14 Dallas City Councilwoman Veletta Lill has added her name to the list of endorsements for Bobby Abtahi, who is running to replace Councilwoman Angela Hunt.

Lill joined former Councilman Craig McDaniel, who represented the district before her. McDaniel was the first openly gay person elected to office in Dallas. Openly gay Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons has also endorsed Abtahi. Other gay former elected officials who’ve endorsed Abtahi are former Dallas City Councilmen Chris Luna, Ed Oakley and Craig Holcomb.

Lill, who represented District 14 from 1997-2005 before becoming executive director of the Dallas Arts District, wrote in her endorsement:

“I want a councilmember with a strong vision for the entire district and a passion for our city. At the same time Bobby understands that the small details in our lives can make a big difference in the way we live – safe streets, stable neighborhoods, basic services and a good quality of life keep us personally invested in our community.

“It is no secret that I believe the arts are important to a city, from our school children to our seniors and from our neighborhood artists and cultural centers to the Dallas Arts District — Bobby is committed to being an ally for arts and culture on the council.”

Current District 14 Councilwoman Angela Hunt and former County Judge Hon. Margaret Keliher have endorsed Philip Kingston in the race.

Former state Reps. John Bryant and Harryette Ehrhardt have endorsed Jim Rogers. Former City Councilwoman Lori Palmer, who represented Oak Lawn before McDaniel, as well as former Mayor Mary Poss, have also endorsed Rogers.

Also in the District 14 race are David Blewett, Kevin Curley, Chuck Kobdish and Judith Liimatainen. None of those four had high-profile endorsements listed as of today.

—  David Taffet

FEEDBACK: Looking at District 14

Looking at District 14

This spring’s Dallas City Council District 14 race should draw our community into the voting booth in far greater numbers than any prior municipal election. Angela Hunt, the incumbent, announced Feb. 9 that she would run again for her seat. Jim Rogers had previously announced with the stipulation that he would withdraw from the race if Hunt ran.

The Feb. 4 issue of Dallas Voice announced that Erin Lasseter and Victor Franko were also running. I do not know either of them, but I do know the final announced candidate, James Nowlin.

Frankly, I think the race will be between Hunt and Nowlin. They have important commonalities: Both are experienced attorneys, highly analytical, forthright and hardworking.

Their differences are just as striking. Hunt is straight and married; Nowlin is openly gay. Hunt has served three two-year terms; Nowlin would be a fresh face. Hunt considered a run for mayor; Nowlin announced early for the council seat.

And Nowlin is a Stonewaller — a long-time member and former board member of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas — and a neighborhood activist.

Monday, March 14 is the last day for candidates to file. April 1 is the last day to register to vote or to change your voter registration if you have moved since your card was issued.

What happens in Dallas affects us at least as much as what happens in D.C. Your voice is your vote. So is mine. Let’s speak out loud and proud to assure that our community is heard.

Phyllis Guest
Dallas

—  John Wright

Hunt ends speculation over mayoral candidacy

Angela Hunt, left, and James Nowlin

District 14 councilwoman won’t for mayor, but gay candidate James Nowlin pledges to stay in race and challenge three-term incumbent

From Staff Reports
editor@dallasvoice.com

Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, a staunch LGBT ally who represents the heavily gay District 14, announced this week that she has decided not to run for Dallas mayor in the May municipal elections.

Hunt will, instead, run for re-election to her fourth term representing District 14. Mandated term limits mean that if she is re-elected, it will be her last two-year term on the council.

Although candidates cannot officially file to run in the elections until Monday, Feb. 14, four District 14 candidates have already filed paperwork with the city secretary designating campaign treasurers.

One of the four — Jim Rogers — told Dallas Voice last month that if Hunt decided to run for re-election to the council instead of for mayor, he would bow out of the race. But another, openly gay candidate James Nowlin, said this week he does not plan to withdraw.

The two other declared candidates for District 14 are Erin C. Lasseter and Vernon Franko.

“Angela made every indication that she was running for mayor, and our campaign team moved forward, and as we were moving forward we received tremendous support from voters across the district,” Nowlin said Wednesday. “Her waiting put the district and the potential candidates in a very awkward position. I’m in it to win it and I’m moving forward to the May 14 election.”

Nowlin told Dallas Voice last month he was confident that Hunt would run for mayor and that he had been discussing the possibility of running for the District 14 seat with her for more than a year.

“I’m not running against anybody,” Nowlin said. “I’m running for the district, and this is about putting the district first.”

Hunt said Wednesday that she had decided to not to run for mayor because she believes she can be more effective as a councilmember.

“For me, it’s never been about what office I hold. It’s about where I feel I can be the most effective and do the most good for my district and the city,” Hunt said. “And the issues I feel most strongly about are issues I can address most effectively as a councilmember instead of as mayor.”

Hunt said those issues are ones that focus “providing top quality basic city services” and projects that enhance the quality of life for the city’s residents, including efforts to “re-energize” the Trinity River Corridor Project and making sure the river levees are repaired and the proposed park built.

Hunt said she is also concerned with the issues of redistricting and the upcoming 2012 bond elections.

“With all due respect to the other [District 14] candidates — I know them, and they are all good people — these are issues that need someone with experience to deal with them,” Hunt said.

The three candidates that have so far declared themselves candidates for mayor are current District 12 Councilman Ron Natinsky, former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle and criminal defense lawyer Jim Moore.

Hunt said this week she has not decided who — if anyone — she would endorse for mayor. But she did say she believes the city needs someone not currently serving on the council as its next leader.

“I think it will take someone new, someone coming in from outside the current council but who also has experience as a leader” to be the best mayor for Dallas, Hunt said, adding that she is looking for a mayor who will “focus on the issues that are really important to our neighborhoods, instead of on high-dollar, high-profile projects” like the Convention Center hotel, the Trinity River toll road and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge — all projects that current Mayor Tom Leppert championed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

District 14: Attorney Jim Rogers files to run but says he’ll withdraw if Hunt seeks re-election

Jim Rodgers

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Jim Rogers, a Dallas attorney and accountant, filed information on his campaign treasurer on Jan. 18 to begin his run for the Dallas City Council District 14, the seat now held by Angela Hunt. But at that evening’s Stonewall Democrats meeting, he said that if Hunt decides run for her council seat again rather than for mayor, he would withdraw.

Rogers said he only decided to get into the race two days earlier, after a meeting with friends.

“This isn’t a Jim Rogers decision,” he said. “It’s a neighborhood decision.”

One of those in the neighborhood who supports that decision is Neal Emmons, a Hunt appointee to the City Plan Commission.

Emmons cited Rogers’ years of experience working on neighborhood issues as his greatest strength, noting that Rogers has been active in Democratic politics in the city for years and has become a member of Stonewall Democrats.

Rogers has lived in Oak Lawn and East Dallas for 30 years and served on the Urban Rehabilitation Standards Board. He was one of the original Bryan Place homeowners.

When Bryan Place was built just outside of Downtown Dallas in the early 1980s, it was the first residential development built so close to the city center in decades and its residents were considered urban pioneers.

Rogers said developer Dave Fox told him, “Bryan Place wouldn’t have the atmosphere it has if it wasn’t for Jim Rogers.”

“We didn’t do what I wanted to do,” he said. “We found out what the neighborhood wanted to do.”

He said he went door to door to find out what his new neighbors thought would make this a better place to live. The neighborhood had no amenities and people wanted a swimming pool. They created a $300,000 budget that would include a clubhouse.

Developer Fox & Jacobs pledged $200,000 to the project if Rogers could raise $100,000 never believing they’d have to make good on their promise.

Rogers delivered his portion from money raised from the new homeowners. The developers pitched in their pledge and built the pool.

He said that story illustrates how he would approach his job on the City Council.

“I want to involve as many people from the district as possible,” he said.

He said he would listen and learn what issues are not being addressed. But he did have a three-point plan — smoother streets, safer neighborhoods and lower taxes.

While he followed and understood the budgeting problems that the council faced last year, Rogers said he wondered why Dallas has the highest tax rate of any major city in the state.

He said he wasn’t looking to slash services, “But more analysis needs to be done.”

He said he was driving near Northwest Highway and LBJ Freeway and he suddenly noticed a difference in the road.

“Then I realized I was in Garland,” he said. “Garland shouldn’t have smoother streets than we do.

Rogers promised to be an advocate for the LGBT community, just as Hunt has been. Although same-sex marriage is not an issue that faces a city council, he offered his opinion on it.

“Why not?” Rogers asked. “How’s it going to affect my marriage?”

He said he supports policies already in place in Dallas such as domestic partnership benefits for city employees and the nondiscrimination ordinance. On new issues that might come before the council, he said his door would be open for members of the community to come and educate him so he could support equality.

“I will always fight for the guy who is not being treated right,” he said.

He called the LGBT community “The most active political community on the face of the earth.”

“I want the support of that community,” he said. “It’s amazing how much work goes on there.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

Another candidate files in District 14

Jim Rogers

Although Angela Hunt has not officially announced her plans, a second candidate, Jim Rogers, has filed to run for her District 14 City Council seat in May. Hunt is expected to make a run for mayor after Tom Leppert announced he would not seek re-election.

Rogers said others made the decision for him after a meeting with supporters on Sunday. He filed his paperwork with the city this morning at 9:30 a.m. and his campaign website went live.

Former State Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt, a pioneering LGBT ally, has endorsed Rogers, he said.

James Nowlin, a gay business owner, announced last week that he’s running for Hunt’s seat. More coverage of the District 14 race will appear in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

Rogers said he will attend tonight’s Stonewall Democrats meeting. Stonewall meets at 6:30 p.m. at Ojeda’s Restaurant, 4617 Maple Ave.

—  David Taffet