Early voting in runoff election off to slow start

For those who missed it, there is an election happening in Houston right now. Four City Council races wound up in run-offs after the November 8 municipal elections and Houstonians have until December 10 to decide the fate of these crucial races.  So far fewer than 2,000 people have voted. Without a “big ticket” item like the mayor’s race at the top of the ballot turnout in the runoff is expected to be very low. The upshot of which is that every ballot cast carries more weight than ever.

Two of the races are at-large seats, so every citizen of Houston gets to vote on this races:

  • In At-large position 2 former State Representative Kristi Thibaut faces Andrew C. Burks Jr. Pastor of Bailey Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • In At-large position 5 incumbent council member Jolanda Jones faces Jack Christie, former State Board of Education member .

Two of the races are for district seats, so only people who live in those districts get to vote on these races:

  • In District A incumbent council member Brenda Stardig faces republican activist Helena Brown.
  • In District B local restauranteur and education advocate Jerry Davis faces Alvin Byrd, current staffer for council member Jarvis Johnson.

Early voting continues through December 6th, election day is November 8. Voters may cast their ballot at any early voting location. Visit harrisvotes.org to find your election day polling location (it may be different than your November polling place) and to view a sample ballot.

—  admin

East coast victories for LGBT candidates

While we’re waiting here in Houston for the results of today’s municipal elections the Victory Fund reports of victories for LGBT candidates on the East coast where polls closed an hour earlier than Texas.

State Del. Adam Ebbin (D-District 30) was elected to Virginia’s state Senate today, making him the Commonwealth’s first openly gay senator.

“I am honored by the trust the voters have showed in me,”  Ebbin said in a statement. “During the campaign, I listened to the voters’ concerns and will work on behalf of the values we all share: improving our public schools, expanding our transit system and cleaning up Virginia’s environment. I will make sure their voices are heard…”

“Alex Morse, a 22-year-old graduate of Brown University, has just been elected mayor of Holyoke, Mass., a city of nearly 40,000 residents near Springfield…”

“Zach Adamson has won his race for city council in Indianapolis, giving the city its first openly LGBT city council member.”

“An incumbent on the Largo, Fla., City Commission who attacked her openly gay opponent over his sexual orientation has lost her reelection bid to him tonight. Michael Smith defeated Mary Gray Black, who has a history of anti-gay and anti-trans activism on the commission.”

—  admin

Kunkle, Rawlings to square off in LGBT forum at Cathedral

From Staff Reports
editor@dallasvoice.com

With the Dallas mayoral runoff election less than a month away, voters this week have the opportunity this week to ask candidates Mike Rawlings and David Kunkle where they stand on issues important to the LGBT community.

Dallas Voice and 12 partnering organizations present the 2011 Mayoral Runoff LGBT Forum Tuesday night in the main sanctuary of Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. Dallas Voice online editor John Wright and staff writer David Taffet will moderate the forum, which will include questions submitted by partner organizations, followed by questions for the candidates from audience members. The forum is free and open to the public.

“The Dallas LGBT community has never been more engaged in the civic life of the city than now. This forum is one more expression of that,” said Dallas Voice Publisher Robert Moore. “The task of getting these major LGBT groups to agree to partner on this project together instead of doing small, independent events was easy. The leaders of these groups recognized the benefit of this immediately and came on board just as fast. I can assure you the candidates are pleased this has been bundled as well.”

Moore noted that this year marks only the second time in history when all candidates for Dallas mayor have actively courted the LGBT vote.

“The runoff will be no different,” Moore said. “There is still a decision to made on who the next mayor will be. I urge LGBT citizens of Dallas to attend this event and be confident they have the information they need to cast an educated vote.”

Representatives of LGBT political organizations said they, too, feel a responsibility to keep the community informed and involved in the election process.

The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s Political Action Committee screened mayoral candidates before the general election, but the PAC’s endorsed candidate, Ron Natinsky, did not make the runoff. So “this forum will be a source of input” as the PAC considers an endorsement in the runoff, said DGLA President Patti Fink.

“We have already screened the candidates, but we welcome another chance to find out what kind of priority LGBT issues are for the candidates in the runoff,” Fink said. “Our votes in the LGBT community count. Our votes can influence this election. The choice of Dallas mayor impacts the city of Dallas and the LGBT community, and we need to know the candidates as well as we can before we vote.”

Although Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas do not endorse candidates, many of the gay Republican group’s members were also backing Natinsky in the general election and are now faced with making a decision whether to support Kunkle or Rawlings in the runoff.

“I want to make sure both the candidates and the audience understand the role of the mayor, what it is and what skill sets are actually required to do the job,” said LCR-Dallas President Rob Schlein. “I also want to know if the candidates plan to devote themselves full time to the job of mayor.

“Log Cabin members want to make certain that the city remains and economically vibrant place to work and live. That means bringing in new corporations for relocation, enticing businesses to start versus in the suburbs, and rolling back the tax rates,” Schlein added.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsed Kunkle in the general election, and will continue that endorsement in the runoff. But Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said his organization is glad to have another chance to question the runoff candidates on specific issues.

“The fracking issue [an process used in drilling oil wells] is a big issue, as well as the budget. How will they handle another budget shortfall and where will the cuts come from,” Narvaez said.

But, he said, Stonewall is also concerned about whether the candidates will interact with the LGBT community in the future if they decide to run for higher office.

“The past mayor [Tom Leppert] was our friend [when he first ran for the office] but when he decided to run for higher office, suddenly he wasn’t our friend,” Narvaez said.

Jared Pierce with Young Stonewall Democrats said participating in the runoff forum gives his organization “another chance to hold our elected officials accountable. There are lots of issues that matter to us. There are lots of issues where the Dallas mayor can’t really do anything, like gay marriage, but the question is, will they stand by us and will they support us when there is something they can do?”

Like Stonewall, Young Stonewall members want to know what happens in the next budget crunch, and what services the candidates feel are non-negotiable when it comes to budget cuts. And they want to know what the candidates are willing to do to work with them in “making Oak Lawn a safer area to live and play in,” Pierce said.

Pierce also noted that there are many small business owners in the Young Stonewall ranks and in the Dallas LGBT community as a whole, and so the organization is concerned over what the candidates “can do to make it easier or small businesses to thrive and be productive in this city.”

Tony Vedda, president and CEO of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, also stressed the importance of creating a good business climate in the city.

“Business is the engine that runs the city. We an organization that is keenly aware of that fact, so it’s important to us that the next mayor understand that and understands the integral part the LGBT community plays in the economic and cultural life of the city,” Vedda said.

“Members of the LGBT community need to have the same access to do business with the city as any of the other diverse communities have,” Vedda said. “We want recognition of LGBT certified suppliers. We want to have the LGBT community recognized on contracts just like any other minority community. And we are concerned with how complaints [of violations of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance] are being handled and with the number of complaints that have been filed.”

Jesse Garcia, president of LULAC 4871 — The Dallas Rainbow Council, noted that 44 percent of the population of Dallas is either foreign born or the children of foreign-born citizens, and that more than 70 languages are spoken within the city.

With that in mind, Garcia said his organization hopes “Rawlings and Kunkle are prepared to work with a new Dallas, an international city that has a lot of potential to increase its standing in the world.”

Garcia added, “Our membership also hopes the future mayor stays clear of any anti-immigrant local ordinances that have been controversial and costly in places like Farmers Branch. LULAC Rainbow Council stands by its immigrant brothers and sisters and hopes the new Dallas City Council concentrates on issues that fall into its authority and not the federal government’s.”

For some of the forum’s partner organizations, how the city will respond to the ongong HIV/AIDS epidemic is a top priority.

“We want to make sure that HIV/AIDS is included when we talk about LGBT issues,” said Travis Gasper with AIDS Interfaith Network. “We want to make sure it’s on their radar. Dallas has one of the highest rates in the state and the country. When we talk about healthy communities, we want to make sure that’s part of the discussion in this city.”

Cece Cox, president and CEO of Resource Center Dallas, said the center chose to partner in presenting the forum “because it directly relates to the center’s goal of providing education and advocacy for the communities we serve.

“Candidates should seek input from the LGBT communities they represent and we applaud these candidates for doing so,” Cox continued. “This forum will allow the Dallas LGBT community to make an informed decision on who is best to be Dallas’ next mayor.

“There are several issues we would like to see addressed by the candidates that directly affect people served by the center, including comprehensive diversity training for city employees, crime reduction in the Oak Lawn area, economic development and monitoring the effectiveness of the city’s nondiscrimination policy.”

Other partnering organizations are AIDS Arms Inc., Cedar Springs Merchants Association and Dallas Tavern Guild.

For more information, contact Dallas Voice at 214-754-8710.

To RSVP for the forum on Facebook, go here.

—  John Wright

Low turnout could amplify gay vote

Dallas mayoral candidates make final pitch to LGBTs

MORE ELECTION COVERAGE:
COMMUNITY SPLIT OVER DISTRICT 14 RACE
FORT WORTH ELECTION ROUNDUP

JOHN WRIGHT | Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

With turnout expected to be dismal for Saturday’s municipal elections, LGBT voters could play a pivotal role in determining which two candidates advance to an all-but-certain runoff for Dallas mayor.

It’s arguably the gay-friendliest field in the city’s history, with all three major candidates seeking the endorsement of both Stonewall Democrats and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. And all three — David Kunkle, Ron Natinsky and Mike Rawlings — have their share of high-profile supporters in a community that’s still smarting from the betrayal of former Mayor Tom Leppert.

Overall turnout in municipal elections is expected to hover around 10 percent, or just 50,000 of the city’s half-million registered voters. But with hotly contested council races in Districts 3 and 14, as well as a gay candidate in District 7, turnout among LGBT voters could be much higher.

“With a turnout as small as it’s predicted to be, for everyone who goes to the polls, their turnout almost counts multiple times,” Natinsky said this week. “Every vote becomes more important. We’re just trying to get voters out.”

In an interview with Dallas Voice, Natinsky again touted his record of support for the LGBT community during six years on the council, as well as the backing of three openly gay former councilmembers. Natinsky was also endorsed by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

“I have not hesitated from day one, or previous to that, over the years to participate and support the GBLT community,” Natinsky said. “I think I’ve got a lot of strong supporters and friends within the community, who are seriously out there working hard to help me get elected, and they wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t believe in me. And the difference is that I’m a proven quantity.”

Even in a nonpartisan race, Natinsky’s Republican Party affiliation could hurt him among some LGBT voters. But gay former Councilman Ed Oakley, a Democrat who lost a runoff for mayor to Leppert four years ago, said he doesn’t think it should.

“I’m supporting him because he’s the right person at the right time for Dallas, and I don’t care if he’s a Republican,” Oakley said recently. “I wish everybody would just put their partisan issues aside and look at the candidates, and support who you think is the best person.”

Natinsky initially sought the backing of Stonewall Democrats but withdrew from the screening process at the last minute over questions about whether his party affiliation would make him ineligible for the group’s endorsement.

Stonewall Democrats voted to endorse to Kunkle, the former Dallas police chief who this week predicted he will win the overall LGBT vote.

“I believe that I will be the one who will work the hardest to make their [LGBT residents’] lives better and also to help grow the economy in a way [in which] they will personally prosper,” Kunkle said. “I think I will do better [than the other candidates] within the LGBT community. I think the Stonewall Democrats’ support carries a lot of weight. … I’m not going to change who I am and what I believe. My core, basic way of thinking and reacting is not going to change, and that will be supportive of the GLBT community.”

Both Natinsky and Rawlings said recently during a forum that they opposed Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. But Kunkle said only that he didn’t vote on the amendment.

This week Kunkle clarified that if he did vote, he would have voted against the amendment.

“It seems to me that if two people love each other and want to commit to each other … that’s not a bad thing to happen in society,” Kunkle said.

Jesse Garcia, a past president of Stonewall who’s backing Kunkle, pointed to things like the former chief’s support for a full-time LGBT liaison officer at DPD.

“I’ve had the honor of meeting all four candidates for mayor. I respect their decisions to seek office and truly believe they want what’s best for Dallas,” Garcia said. “But when it comes to the LGBT community, Kunkle stands out as someone that was tested on LGBT issues and made the right call.”

Rawlings, who’s raised by far the most money and is perhaps an odds-on favorite to at least make the runoff, said his plan for economic development and philosophy of inclusion makes him the best candidate for the LGBT community.

“When this city is grown in the correct way, we all win, and most of the LGBT community I know are very pro-growth, are great professionals, and want to have a fabulous business environment,” Rawlings said. “We have the ninth-largest city in this country, and the more we include all the diversity throughout the city, I think the stronger we are.”

In endorsing Natinsky, DGLA issued a rare “warning” about Rawlings, saying the former Pizza Hut CEO’s “passion for commerce and business interests supremely overwhelms his appreciation for the civil rights of all people.”

But Rawlings has vehemently denied DGLA’s accusation, saying he demonstrated his willingness to stand up for people’s civil rights as the city’s homeless czar.

“I don’t think any CEO that I know has spent five years dealing and working with the homeless,” Rawlings said. “If I’m able to do that, I would think I could do it for groups that are much more powerful than them, and I think the LGBT community is one of them.”

Lesbian activist Pam Gerber, a member of both DGLA and Stonewall, has called DGLA’s warning about Rawlings “irresponsible” and immature.”

Gerber, also a member of a city task force on LGBT issues, said this week she’s supporting Rawlings because he has “the right combination of skills.”

“Whether it was him running a successful company or running a successful nonprofit endeavor, he’s proven that he can do it all, and I think that’s a valuable pallet of skills,” Gerber said. “I just think Mike has more to offer.”

But Gerber added that she doesn’t think any of the three major candidates would do harm to the LGBT community as mayor.

“I think they all have our best interests in mind,” Gerber said. “I think we’re really lucky to have the candidates we have. The only thing we’re not lucky about is the apathy of our community to get out and vote.”

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. For a full list of locations, go to www.dalcoelections.org.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Bin Laden dead; early voting begins; Texas House to take up anti-bullying bill

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. In case you’ve been under a rock for the last 12 hours, Osama Bin Laden is dead. Watch President Barack Obama’s statement from Sunday night above. You probably thought there was no gay angle to this story, but The Washington Blade has it.

2. Early voting begins today in local municipal elections. For a complete list of early voting locations in Dallas County, go here. If you haven’t made up your mind yet in the Dallas mayor’s race, all four candidates are scheduled to attend a forum sponsored by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce tonight at Cityplace. I’ll be joining Robert Wilonsky and Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer to moderate the forum, which is free and open to the public. For more info, go here.

3. It’s not too late to contact your state representative and urge them to vote for HB 1942 by Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, an anti-bullying bill that’s scheduled for debate on the House floor today. Experts say Patrick’s bill represents the last, best chance for the Texas Legislature to address bullying in this year’s session. Equality Texas, which supports the bill, has been urging members to email their representatives by going here.

—  John Wright

DGLA endorses Ron Natinsky, Angela Hunt

Ron Natinsky

In a move that underscores major differences within the LGBT community in this year’s municipal elections, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance on Saturday endorsed City Councilman Ron Natinsky for mayor and incumbent Angela Hunt in District 14.

DGLA also issued a rare warning against Mike Rawlings in the mayor’s race, saying the former Pizza Hut CEO’s “passion for commerce and business interests supremely overwhelms his appreciation for the civil rights of all people.” In response to the DGLA warning, Rawlings denied that he would ever put economic development before civil rights. “Civil rights come first,” he said.

Last month, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsed former Police Chief David Kunkle for mayor and openly gay challenger James Nowlin in District 14. Natinsky had pulled out of Stonewall’s candidate screening over questions about his eligibility for the group’s backing because he’s a Republican.

But unlike Stonewall, DGLA is nonpartisan — and so are municipal elections.

—  John Wright

Local Briefs

CCGLA surveys candidates, sets meet-and-greet events

As municipal elections approach, the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance has sent an online survey to city council, school board and mayoral candidates in Allen, Frisco, Plano and McKinney, and “meet-and-greet” sessions for candidates are planned in Frisco, Plano and McKinney in April.

The organization will also create and distribute a voters’ guide.

The Plano “meet-and-greet” will be held on Friday, April 8, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at a private residence. For more information, go online to CCGLA.org.

Results of CCGLA’s candidate surveys will be posted on the CCGLA website prior to each event. The events are informal, non-partisan, and all candidates are invited.

Oak Cliff Earth Day to feature vendors, info booths and more

Oak Cliff Earth Day, which has become the largest all-volunteer-run Earth Day since it started five years ago, will be held on Sunday, April 17, from noon to 5 p.m. at Lake Cliff Park, located at the intersection of Colorado Street and Zang Boulevard in Oak Cliff.

There is no charge to attend the event, which will include art, food, plants and other environmentally-friendly products available for purchase.

There will also be educational booths on topics such as how to save energy and clean up the environment, along with locally-grown honey, animals to adopt and native plants for gardens.

Parking at the park is limited, however, free parking is available at Methodist Hospital, in Lot 10 only, located at 1400 S. Beckley Ave. across from the hospital entrance on Beckley Ave. Methodist Hospital is providing a shuttle bus from the parking lot to the event.

Participants are also encouraged to take DART to the event or walk or ride a bicycle. There are a number of bike racks, funded by Oak Cliff Earth Day, at the park.

Mayoral candidates to speak Sunday on animal issues in Dallas

Dallas’ mayoral candidates will participate in a forum on animal issues in the city of Dallas on Sunday, April 10, at 2 p.m. at the Central Dallas Library, 1515 Young St., in downtown Dallas. The Metroplex Animal Coalition is sponsoring the forum, with is free and open to the public. Journalist Larry Powell with Urban Animal magazine will moderate.

The mayoral candidates are former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, Councilman Ron Natinsky, real estate consultant Edward Okpa and Mike Rawlings, former Pizza Hut CEO and Dallas homeless czar.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Endorsement vs. endorsement

Patti Fink, left, and Damien Duckett

Stonewall Democrats backs Kunkle for mayor, Nowlin for District 14; nonpartisan DGLA prepares for candidate screenings

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s political action committee began its candidate screening process this week for the May 8 Dallas municipal elections.

Last weekend, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas interviewed candidates and has released its endorsements.

Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said his group looks for candidates who are inclusive of the community.

“But we are partisan,” Narvaez said. “We’re looking for good Democrats.”

That’s the big difference between Stonewall and DGLA.

DGLA President Patti Fink said, “We’re non-partisan and have been since the 1970s.”

In the mayor’s race, Stonewall interviewed only three of the candidates. Ron Natinsky, the fourth, spoke at Stonewall’s monthly membership meeting the previous week and honestly answered a question that he had voted for John McCain in the 2008 presidential race.

Although he had originally asked for the group’s endorsement, he withdrew his request when Stonewall members questioned his eligibility based on their bylaws that prevent the group from endorsing Republicans.

That won’t be a sticking point for DGLA.

“DGLA endorsed him in the past,” Fink said, “And we’re looking forward to speaking to him again this year.”

Stonewall gave its nod to former police chief David Kunkle. Mike Rawlings also received considerable support, and Edward Opka screened with the group as well.

What gave Kunkle the edge, Narvaez said, was that all of Rawlings’ answers revolved around business.

“Business is a very important part of our city,” Narvaez said, “But you’ve got to think about the parks, the libraries.”

He said Kunkle spoke movingly about inclusiveness and talked about working with a transgender officer who transitioned on the job.

“He reinstated the liaison and made the position full-time,” Narvaez said, referring to the LGBT police liaison position. “His experiences were heartfelt.”

In the District 14 race, the vote was close, but in the end, the endorsement went to openly gay candidate James Nowlin over incumbent Angela Hunt.

“It was a coin flip,” Narvaez said. “That was a tough one.”

Although the vote was split, Stonewall does not do dual endorsements. He said Stonewall makes a single recommendation and then works to get that candidate elected.

“We’ll block walk, fund raise, put out yard signs, advertise, distribute push cards,” he said.

DGLA has made dual endorsements in the past when the committee’s vote was close and two candidates seemed equally suitable.

Stonewall attracted 73 people to their candidate forum. All were able to ask the candidates questions. Of those, 57 were current members who were allowed to vote on the endorsements.

Damien Duckett, DGLA’s political action committee chair, heads that group’s endorsement process. He said DGLA has a three-step procedure.

This week, they began contacting candidates by phone and sending questionnaires.

When Natinsky withdrew his name from the Stonewall endorsement process, he also released his questionnaire. Stonewall’s policy is to shred questionnaires after the endorsements are announced.

But DGLA keeps its questionnaires on file.

When President George Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court in 2005, DGLA released her written answers to a 1989 Dallas City Council election endorsement questionnaire, a document that contradicted some of Miers’ statements after she was nominated.

But, Duckett said, the questionnaires are normally not released.

Duckett said that after candidates return the requested information, the organization schedules a confidential interview with the screening committee. Those will be held over several days during the next two weeks.

DLGA’s Don Baker Educational Fund, the non-profit branch that is separate from the DGLA PAC, will hold an open candidate forum on April 9. Everyone running for city office is invited to participate and the public is invited to interact with the candidates.

The committee will then vote and Duckett said he expects to release the group’s endorsements the following Monday or Tuesday.

“We’re the only nonpartisan LGBT endorsements in Dallas,” Duckett said.

“We’ve endorsed a number of Republicans over the years,” Fink said.

Among them is Natinsky, who was endorsed by DGLA for his current council seat.

“DGLA isn’t interested in your voting history,” Duckett said. “Simply your views on LGBT issues.”

He said he was surprised at some of the candidates who indicated that they wanted DGLA’s endorsement.

District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis asked for a questionnaire. Although she never sought the group’s endorsement before, this time Davis has an opponent — Casie Pierce, who is openly lesbian and received Stonewall’s endorsement.

Duckett said the committee would concentrate on how candidates support five issues that DGLA expects to be action items over the next two-year council term.

DGLA and Stonewall endorsements are usually the same. In some council races, DGLA has endorsed Republicans in races that Stonewall offered no endorsement.

But in this race there may be different endorsements in major races including District 14 and mayor.

Both groups said they would work for their endorsed candidates. Neither thought that presented a conflict in the community.

Fink said she thought it was a sign of maturity that a variety of candidates held appeal within the LGBT community.

Narvaez said that in the District 14 race, the margin between Nowlin and Hunt was razor thin.

He acknowledged that some Stonewall members are working with Hunt’s campaign and said that although Stonewall would work for Nowlin, members were free to work for any candidate they chose.

“There were hurt feeling on both sides in that one,” Narvaez said. “It hurt to make that phone call [to Hunt]. You had to pick between two friends.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

Who’s the cutest member of Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats’ new executive board?

DSYD’s new executive board is made up of Communications Director Michael Maldonado, from left, Community Services Director Michael Tijerina, Membership Director Clint Thomson, Vice President Justin “JT” Williams, Treasurer Jason Wallace, Political Director Stewart Stimson, President Jared Pearce and Secretary Solomon Arreguin (not pictured). (Chance Browning/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats elected its 2011 officers Tuesday night and passed a resolution condemning Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Ramos for his recent anti-gay remarks, according to a press release from the group.

The new DSYD officers are President Jared Pearce, Vice President J.T. Williams, Secretary Solomon Arreguin, Treasurer Jason Wallace, Political Director Stewart Stimson and Community Services Director Michael Tijerina.

According to the press release, the new DSYD executive board will focus on gathering support for endorsed candidates in the upcoming municipal elections and continuing the Light Up Oak Lawn campaign launched last year, which seeks to reduce crime in Oak Lawn with more street lighting.

“I’m thrilled to take on the role of president for this incredible organization,” Pearce said. “Everyone on the executive board is looking forward to the great things DSYD is going to accomplish in 2011.”

Pearce penned an open letter that he emailed to Ramos with DSYD’s unanimously approved resolution attached. View the resolution here and read Pearce’s letter after the jump.

—  John Wright

Stonewall endorses Kunkle, Nowlin

David Kunkle

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsed former police chief David Kunkle for mayor and openly gay candidate James Nowlin for the District 14 City Council seat on Saturday.

Kunkle and Nowlin were among 12 who received the LGBT group’s backing after 57 members interviewed 23 candidates in May 14 municipal elections, during a seven-hour session at Resource Center Dallas.

Stonewall’s endorsement of Kunkle came after Ron Natinsky pulled out of the candidate screening when he learned he would not be eligible for the group’s backing because he’s a Republican. Despite his party affiliation, Natinsky has received endorsements in the mayor’s race from some prominent gay Democrats, including openly gay former City Councilman Ed Oakley. Municipal elections are nonpartisan.

The other two candidates for mayor, Mike Rawlings and Edward Okpa, also sought Stonewall’s endorsement.

In heavily gay District 14, Nowlin beat out incumbent Angela Hunt for the group’s backing, despite the fact that Hunt has been an LGBT ally on the council.

Stonewall also endorsed Delia Jasso for District 1, Pauline Medrano for District 2, Scott Griggs for District 3, Monica Alonzo for District 6, Cassie Pierce for District 7, Cynthia Durbin for District 10 and William Tsao for District 12.

The group opted not to endorse Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway, who’s seeking re-election to his District 4 council seat. Caraway is currently finishing out the term of former Mayor Tom Leppert, who stepped down to run for U.S. Senate. Stonewall also opted not to endorse Sheffie Kadane in District 9. Both Caraway and Kadane sought the group’s endorsement and attended Saturday’s screening.

A full press release after the jump.

Kunkle, Nowlin receive Stonewall endorsements

After seven hours and 23 interviews, 57 Stonewall Democrats of Dallas members selected to endorse in 12 races for the May 14 municipal election.

Former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle won the endorsement for Dallas Mayor, which was ratified along with other races by the membership immediately after the endorsement screening ended at 4:45 p.m.

Also winning endorsements for Dallas City Council were Delia Jasso for District 1, Pauline Medrano for District 2, Scott Griggs for District 3, Monica Alonzo for District 6, Cassie Pierce for District 7, Cynthia Durbin for District 10, William Tsao for District 12 and James Nowlin for District 14.

The lone Dallas Independent School District candidate that sought the organization’s endorsement, Mike Morath, was endorsed for District 2.

Candidates for Dallas County School Board Trustees Anthony Pace for District 1 and James Hubener for District 4 were also endorsed.

Stonewall decided not to endorse interim mayor and District 4 City Councilmember Dwaine Caraway and City Councilman Sheffie Kadane for District 9. They were the only ones who screened in their respective races.

“We had a lively discussion and great participation,” said Jesse Garcia, SDD communications director. “Conversation and debate remained civil. We had great candidates seek our support and we’re proud that the process was fair and transparent.”

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will work hard to promote endorsed candidates over the next eight weeks before Election Day Saturday, May 14.

The deadline to register to vote in time for the May 14 election is Thursday, April 14. Your registration card needs to be postmarked by April 14 or dropped off at the Dallas County Elections Department, located at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 820, in Dallas. Early voting takes place May 2-10.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will register voters Saturday, March 26, from 2 to 6 p.m., in front of Hunky’s, located at 3940 Cedar Springs Rd., in Dallas.

“The LGBT community needs to turn out to make sure our voice is heard,” said Garcia. “Only one in eight Dallas voters takes part in city elections. Heavy turnout in our neighborhoods will make a greater difference this time around.”

Candidates who were endorsed will be invited to speak at the next general meeting of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, at Ojeda’s Restaurant, located at 4617 Maple Ave. in Dallas. Meeting is open to the public. For more information, visit www.stonewalldemocratsofdallas.org.

—  John Wright