Martinez will be first out Dallas County Justice of the Peace

Treasurer candidate Pauline Medrano, left, and County Commissioner Elba Garcia

Treasurer candidate Pauline Medrano, left, and County Commissioner Elba Garcia

With more than a 500 vote lead, Sara Martinez won her primary for Justice of the Peace Precinct 5, Place 1. She faces no Republican opposition in the fall and will become the first out JP in Dallas County. Martinez had the support of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

In other Dallas County runoffs, former City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano held a 20 point lead over her opponent Bennie Elnora Brown. Medrano said she was campaigning this evening until the polls closed at 7 p.m. and will continue campaigning hard through the fall election. She did well in many of the suburbs where she’s not as well known by working with precinct chairs and area Democratic clubs.

Felicia Pitre won the District Clerk runoff against Tarsha Hardy with more than 62 percent of the vote. Pitre works for current District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who endorsed her as his successor.

Another Stonewall Democrats of Dallas-backed candidate who won her runoff was Katy Hubener for a Precinct 4 JP seat. Constable Beth Villareal held a slim lead over challenger Michael Orozco and that race remains too close to call. Villareal has Stonewall’s endorsement.

Statewide, David Alameel gained more than 70 percent of the vote in the race to become the Democratic challenger to U.S. Senator John Cornyn. Alameel beat Kesha Rogers whose platform is to impeach President Obama. Jim Hogan beat Kinky Friedman to run for Agriculture Commissioner.

In statewide Republican races, Sen. Dan Patrick beat incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Patrick faces Leticia Van de Putte in November for Lieutenant Governor.

Sen. Ken Paxton beat Rep. Dan Branch for the Republican nomination for Attorney General. Paxton faces Democrat Sam Houston in November.

 

 

—  David Taffet

LGBT candidates, allies win big in Texas primary

Texasprimary

Out JP candidate Sara Martinez and former City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, surrounded by supporters, both made it into runoffs in Dallas County. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Openly LGBT candidates and the community’s allies swept the Texas Democratic primary Tuesday, winning the party’s nomination while others made it into runoffs.

In Dallas County, out justice of the peace precinct 5, place 1 candidate Sara Martinez led in the crowded race after early voting. She secured a place in the runoff alongside Melissa Bellan. Other out candidate John McCall came in fourth in the race.

Out candidate Susan Lopez-Craig came in third in the precinct 5 constable’s race. Incumbent Beth Villarreal and Michael Orozco will face off in a runoff.

In the race for county treasurer, former Dallas Councilwoman and LGBT ally Pauline Medrano and Bennie Elnora Brown came out on top to make it into the runoff.

Queer state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, easily won re-election, defeating her only Democratic challenger, Rey Sepulveda. Gonzalez previously told Dallas Voice she expected a challenger based on her outspokenness on women’s and LGBT rights. She’s one of five openly gay state House candidates, but the only one with a contested primary. With no Republican challenger in November, she’ll serve another term.

—  Dallasvoice

Stonewall Dallas cleared of ethics complaint, ratifies endorsement slate

Medrano.Pauline

Pauline Medrano

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsed a slate of candidates for the March primary and Treasurer Mike McCue announced an ethics complaint against the group was dismissed at its January meeting on Tuesday.

The Texas Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint filed by a tea party organization against Stonewall PAC Treasurer McCue.

The complaint involved the address of the treasurer that had not been updated and a $250 donation from the Stonewall PAC to another PAC, the Texas House Democratic Committee.

“The complaint did not meet the form requirements for a complaint filed with the Ethics Commission,” the dismissal notice said.

David Bradley

David Bradley

The commission returned the complaint to the tea party complainant explaining how the form failed to comply with a copy of the rules. The complaint was resubmitted, but still failed to comply. The group was given until Nov. 25, 2013 to resubmit but it failed to do so and the complaint was dismissed.

The tea party organization also filed complaints against San Antonio Stonewall.

The general membership of Stonewall ratified a slate of candidates in the upcoming March primary. A motion to reconsider two of the races — Constable Precinct 5 and County Treasurer — failed.

Some members wanted to consider a co-endorsement because two longtime Stonewall members — David Bradley and Pauline Medrano — are running. Medrano received the organization’s endorsement.

In the Constable’s race, those asking to reconsider thought there was misinformation about a lawsuit concerning a name change in the race between incumbent Beth Villareal and challenger Susan Lopez Craig who is lesbian. Villareal received the endorsement.

In addition to those screened by the committee, Stonewall’s general membership voted to endorse Wendy Davis for governor and Leticia Van de Putte for lieutenant governor. Neither is actively seeking the endorsement of local Democratic clubs.

Click here for a full list of the endorsements: 2014 SDD Endorsement Recommendations Notice v4

—  David Taffet

Thanks for the wake-up call, Mike

Screen shot 2013-06-11 at 10.46.31 AM

CBS 11 aired this story last night about what we first reported Saturday — Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano’s last-ditch effort to get an LGBT equality resolution on the June 12 City Council agenda.

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Mayor Mike Rawlings is vehemently opposed to the council considering the resolution, and he apparently convinced City Attorney Tom Perkins to take the position that the mayor is not absent — and therefore Medrano is not acting mayor — even though Rawlings is in South America.

Now I’m no attorney, but does this not seem like a pretty awful legal opinion? If Rawlings is not absent when he’s on another continent, where does he have to go to be absent? Antarctica? Mars? Though these may sound like good places for Rawlings, one has to wonder what the point is of even having a mayor pro tem or deputy pro tem, if they’re never going to be needed.

Anyhow, as we reported yesterday, LGBT advocates are planning to converge on Wednesday’s council meeting to express their disapproval of the council’s failure to take up the resolution. But personally, I think we should also take the opportunity to thank Rawlings.

We should thank him for giving us a wake-up call about the lack of support for the LGBT community at City Hall, and more importantly, we should thank him for galvanizing us around this issue — and mobilizing us to action. Although this is only a city resolution, we have much bigger fights ahead.

Let’s face it, the U.S. Supreme Court isn’t going to hand us nationwide marriage equality later this month, and the justices certainly aren’t going to hand us employment protections. The reality is, we’re going to have to continue to fight for equality city by city and state by state, so why not draw a line in the sand right here and right now in Texas?

After all, if we can’t prevail against a patsy like Rawlings in what amounts to a scrimmage, how are we going to go up against the state Legislature for the real thing?

Watch Channel 11′s report below.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Dallas mayor says he’s not absent even though he’s in Brazil, blocks LGBT equality resolution

Rawlings.Mike

Mayor Mike Rawlings

Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, an LGBT ally who is acting mayor because Mike Rawlings is traveling overseas, sent a request to the city secretary Friday afternoon to place an LGBT equality resolution on the council’s June 12 agenda.

As you can see from the memo below, the city secretary then forwarded Medrano’s request to Rawlings and City Manager Mary Suhm. However, the LGBT equality resolution doesn’t appear on the June 12 agenda that was posted to the city’s website later Friday, apparently because Rawlings — who opposes the resolution — has convinced the city attorney to take the position that Medrano doesn’t have the authority to place it on the agenda.

Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Rawlings, said early Saturday that questions about why the resolution doesn’t appear on the agenda should be directed to the city manager and the city secretary.

“They manage the agenda,” Blackmon said.

Pressed about whether she had any knowledge of what transpired Friday afternoon, Blackmon gave an identical response.

Agenda items must be posted 72 hours before the 9 a.m. Wednesday council meeting, which means the effective deadline is normally 5 p.m. Friday because the city secretary’s office is closed on weekends. However, the resolution could still theoretically be added to the agenda Saturday.

What this boils down to is a complicated legal question. Only the mayor and city manager can place items on the agenda. However, the mayor pro tem assumes the mayor’s duties if he’s absent.

According to Chapter 3, Section 11 of the city charter, “The city council shall elect one of its members as mayor pro tem, who shall perform the duties of mayor in the case of the absence or inability of the mayor to perform the duties of office, who shall, during that time, be vested with all the powers belonging to the mayor. The council shall also elect one of its members as deputy mayor pro tem to act in the absence of both the mayor and the mayor pro tem and to exercise the powers of the mayor during that time. (Amend. of 11-8-05, Prop. No. 13)”

Rawlings is apparently taking the position that even though he is in Brazil, he is not absent. The city charter does not define “absence.” It’s sad that Rawlings is going to these lengths to avoid having to vote on the LGBT equality resolution, and this maneuver should only add fuel to the fire beneath tonight’s march and rally at City Hall.

Medrano couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

More to come …

Memo

—  John Wright

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.

—  Dallasvoice

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.

—  Dallasvoice

Flashing lights won’t fix Cedar Springs’ No. 1 problem: Shabbiness

Community must work together to spiff up our strip, which wasn’t even included in Dallas’ ‘Complete Streets’ program until recently

Phyllis Guest
Taking Notes

Afriend and I went to a Jan. 12 meeting at the Round-Up Saloon, hosted by Dallas City Councilwomen Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano. The meeting was called to address the epidemic of pedestrian traffic accidents on Cedar Springs Road.

We listened to a city engineer, other city staff, a police officer and local businesspeople. The engineer showed us slides of Cedar Springs as it is and as the city proposed to change it in three stages.

If you read David Taffet’s article on Page 6 of the Jan. 27 issue of Dallas Voice, you know what’s proposed. And if you’ve been on Cedar Springs, you can’t have missed the most obvious change: yellow warning flashers, first at Knight Street, then at Reagan.

They are supposed to flash 24/7 for a month, then only when a pedestrian pushes the button to cross the street. However, when I left the Oak Lawn Library on Tuesday, Jan. 31, the flasher at Knight — just in front of the library and the corner of Ilume — was not flashing. Hmmm.

I also went to the Cedar Springs Merchant Association meeting Jan. 25. There, Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Mayor Mike Rawlings, took questions and listened to comments during the first half of the meeting. I thought the most important point was made by Luke Crosland, ilume’s developer: The area generates $30 million a year in alcohol sales.

That’s a huge amount of revenue. With the next phase of ilume scheduled for development, and with more and more apartments replacing the area’s older homes, no doubt that revenue stream will grow.

In the second part of the meeting, CSMA Executive Director Scott Whittall spoke of the traffic study the city will conduct throughout February to help officials make more decisions about traffic problems and solutions. Whittall also announced a new campaign, online and presumably in print, to market “The Strip on Cedar Springs.” (Go to TinyUrl.com/8yb7uj8 to enter the logo design contest.)

Finally, after asking CSMA attendees to sign up for one of two committees, “traffic problems” or “taxi solutions,” Whittall announced a whole calendar of events for the remainder of 2012. All are geared to attract locals and visitors to The Strip.

Sounds good.

And if more crosswalk lights, pedestrian signs and police patrols will keep people from being run down, that certainly is good.

But changing the behavior of pedestrians and drivers is not the main problem.

The main problem is shabbiness.

Drive slowly up and down Cedar Springs as I did on Tuesday at midday.

Look at the very different storefronts, the very disparate signage.

Look at the street, cracked and torn and unevenly marked.

Look at the sidewalks, also cracked and torn. In some places, curbs are high, in other places low, in still others slanted to accommodate the disabled. Holes as big as a boot are everywhere. Round metal whatevers are inserted along portions of the sidewalk holding what look like tall twigs. Even if the twigs spring to life next month, they will still look weird.

This is a major “entertainment district” in a major American city? This is our answer to Manhattan’s Great White Way or Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade?

Our area was not even included in Dallas’ Complete Streets planning. In fact, I had never heard of “Complete Streets” until it appeared on the city’s handout of short-term, medium-term, and long-term Cedar Springs Pedestrian Safety Improvements. On the handout, as you might guess, it was No. 12, a long-term option to “Review area for Complete Street design.”

Check out www.dallascompletestreets.com. You’ll see that nine areas have already been selected for attention and investment, apparently by city staff or consultants. You’ll also see a list of workshops held this past November and December, none in our area and none advertised in the Dallas Voice.

How do we get from shabby to spiffy? We talk to the Dallas City Council, we talk to the Cedar Springs Merchant Association, we talk to the Dallas Complete Streets planners, and we talk to one another. Perhaps we organize the equivalent of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, which works on conserving what’s best and reworking what’s not.

Today. We can start today. Each of us can make one phone call or write one email, and make one post on Facebook or Twitter.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and is a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Send comments to editor@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Cedar Springs construction postponed

Cedar Springs Road

Earlier this week, merchants on Cedar Springs were told that traffic would be disrupted for two weeks because of installation of new gas pipes. That construction has been postponed until after Pride.

“Great news!” wrote Cedar Springs Merchants Association President Scott Whittall. “The street closure planned by Atmos Energy has been postponed to Sept. 26.”

The construction was to have closed two lanes of traffic and eliminated all street parking while work progressed. Instead, Whittall reported that the work will be done in sections so that parking will not be blocked for two weeks.

Calls to Councilwomen Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano made the difference, Whittall said. In addition to the loss of business during construction, merchants were worried that work would drag on longer than the announced two weeks and interfere with the Pride Parade on Sept. 18.

Whittall said that the delay gives merchants time to post signs warning of the closure and direct customers to alternate places to park. The closure should not affect evening or weekend business. Whittall said that weekday customers are used to parking in front of the businesses. He expects merchants along the street to offer “construction discounts” during the utility repairs.

—  David Taffet

DSYD succeeds in effort to ‘Light Up Oak Lawn’

Councilwoman Angela Hunt, left, and DSYD President Jared Pearce

Group notified this week that 45 new lights will be erected in the area within 60 days

DRACONIS VON TRAPP | Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

After a year of pushing the city for more streetlights in Oak Lawn, Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats saw their efforts pay off this week when city officials announced plans to install 45 new lights in the area.

“We’re excited and think it’s a great thing for the community,” DSYD President Jared Pearce said. “We decided to take on the challenge of improving the street light situation in Oak Lawn because many of us have friends who have been victims of crime in this area. The fact that city officials have listened to us and are taking action to resolve this problem gives us even more drive to make changes that can benefit the entire community.”

The Oak Lawn neighborhood has been afflicted with a disproportionately high crime rate and lack of appropriate street lighting. After a series of muggings in the neighborhood, DSYD got together as a board and the topic of street lighting came up. They then created what is now known as the “Light Up Oak Lawn” campaign.

DSYD then held another meeting at JR’s with members of the community and local businesses to rally support, deciding to take the issue to the City Council, namely District 14 representative Angela Hunt and District 2 representative Pauline Medrano.

Volunteers went on foot around the Oak Lawn area one night and did their own preliminary audit, recording the number of broken streetlights and places that were cloaked in darkness, also taking note of foot traffic and the proximity of residential and business housing.

Along with their audit, DSYD vols also did research on the correlation between street lighting and crime in other cities around the U.S. and the U.K., trying to make as convincing a case as possible. They then took all their blood, sweat and tears and got in contact with Hunt and Medrano.

Nearly seven months later, nothing had been done. DYSD reached out to remind city officials of nearly every mugging that happened in that area — but still no cigar.

“We didn’t want to count on the city for funding,” DYSD Communications Director Michael Maldonado said. “So we went to the city officials to determine what we would need to do and how much it would cost.”

City officials told the group they needed a more thorough audit of the area in which they wanted streetlights erected. So, DSYD volunteers went out and did it all again, making sure to leave no streetlight unchecked and no dark corner unrecorded.

They contacted the city officials again with their new information and finally started to see some progress.

Maldonado said that he doesn’t think the crime in the Oak Lawn area is necessarily LGBT-related, but that there’s “genuinely a lot of traffic in that area,” making it an ideal site for criminals to strike.

In April, the city’s Street Services Department received the DYSD audit and promised look it over and give recommendations.

After an article published in Dallas Voice about yet another mugging, DSYD members finally got the approval to have streetlights posted at every location noted in the audit.

Oncor, the corporation responsible for the lighting in Dallas, was given a work order to put up 45 streetlights within 60 days. The lights will improve visibility and hopefully decrease the night time crime rate in the area bounded by Oak Lawn Avenue, Lemmon Avenue, Wycliff Avenue and Maple Avenue, Maldonado said.

Hunt said she believes the new lights will increase safety not only for the LGBT community of Dallas, but also the residential and business communities that make their home in the Oak Lawn area.

“This is a terrific example of the community and City Hall working together to improve a vital area,” Hunt said.

—  John Wright