PHOTOS, VIDEO: Monday’s 1st-ever LGBT Pride Month Reception at Dallas City Hall

We apologize for the shaky camera, especially at the beginning (I blame David Taffet). But below is video, in three parts, from Monday’s LGBT Pride Month Reception at Dallas City Hall. To view more photos of the event, go here, and for our story, go here.

—  John Wright

LGBT Pride Month Reception at Dallas City Hall

Photos by John Wright/Dallas Voice

—  John Wright

Mayor Rawlings joins 5 other council members at 1st-ever LGBT Pride Month Reception

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during Monday’s LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall.

About 50 people attended Dallas’ first-ever official LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall on Monday afternoon.

Mayor Mike Rawlings was among six council members who appeared at the event, organized by Councilwoman Delia Jasso and her LGBT task force.

Standing before a Pride flag draped from the wall of the Flag Room on the sixth floor, Rawlings spoke briefly at the start of the reception and drew cheers when he pledged to have “open doors” to the community.

“I met many of you during the campaign,” Rawlings said. “Some of you were supporting me, others were not. But I’ll tell you this: I knew that this was a fabulous community that I wanted to partner with when I became mayor. Thank you for what you have done for this city.”

Prior to the reception, Rawlings told Instant Tea he has no hard feelings about the fact that both Stonewall Democrats and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance endorsed his opponents in the election — with DGLA even issuing a rare warning against him.

“Not at all,” Rawlings said. “We must all have a spirit of understanding. I don’t have anything like that [hard feelings].”

Rawlings didn’t specifically mention the LGBT community during his inauguration address at the Meyerson Symphony Center earlier in the day. But at the Pride reception, he told attendees that the community fits with the major themes he outlined in the speech: becoming a city of diversity, opportunity and excellence.

“As far as I’m concerned, you are right on with my plan, and I want to be right on with yours, and so we will continue to talk, and I am just pleased that we are here to honor gay and lesbian Pride Month in the city of Dallas,” Rawlings said.

—  John Wright

Mayor-elect Mike Rawlings says he ‘will try to be there’ for Monday’s LGBT Pride Month Reception

Mayor-elect Mike Rawlings

UPDATE: Rawlings said the following in an email shortly after we posted this: “I’ll plan to be there unless [secretary] Sandy [Nelson] tells me I have a conflict. She will put it on my calendar.”

ORIGINAL POST:

It remains unclear whether Mayor-elect Mike Rawlings will attend an LGBT Pride Month Reception at Dallas City Hall on Monday afternoon.

A press release announcing the reception sent out by the city on Wednesday indicates that Rawlings will be there. However, Councilwoman Delia Jasso, who organized the reception, said this morning that Rawlings hasn’t confirmed his attendance.

“I would list him as invited,” Jasso said, adding that she’s confident he’ll attend.

On Wednesday, Rawlings said in an email to Dallas Voice that he will “try to be there.”

“It’s not on my calendar right now but I will try to be there when I find the details,” Rawlings said.

Rawlings didn’t respond to a follow-up email providing details of the Pride Reception. He also didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail left on his cell phone this morning.

The Pride Reception would be Rawlings first LGBT event as mayor, and his attendance could be an indicator that he’s willing to mend fences with the two LGBT groups that endorsed his opponents in the election. During the reception, Jasso will present a Pride Month proclamation to the LGBT task force she created, which includes leaders from the the two groups, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

Jasso said Monday’s Pride Reception, the first of its kind, will take place immediately after a post-inauguration photo session for council members in the same location, the Flag Room on the sixth floor.

“It’s as convenient as it can be for any council person to stay,” she said.

Jasso is hosting the reception along with Councilwoman Angela Hunt and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano.

Jasso said all current council members have been invited, but only Jerry Allen has confirmed he’ll be there. Jasso said she also plans to contact new council members who’ll be sworn in Monday to invite them.

Others listed on the city press release as attending are City Manager Mary Suhm, Assistant Chief of Police Vincent Golbeck and Assistant Chief of Dallas Fire Rescue Debra Carlin. Jasso said the police and fire chiefs had prior commitments.

“A special ceremony will be held at Dallas City Hall in recognition of June LGBT Pride Month,” the press release states. “The ceremony is to recognize June 28, 1969 as a historic turning point for LGBT’s struggle for equality.”

The event is open to the public and begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Flag Room, on the sixth floor of  City Hall at 1500 Marilla.

—  John Wright

Dallas officials to host 1st Pride Month reception, but flag at City Hall must wait till next year

Delia Jasso

Dallas city leaders will host what is believed to be the first-ever official LGBT Pride Month reception in the Flag Room at City Hall next week.

District 1 Councilwoman Delia Jasso organized the reception with the help of the LGBT task force she created after first being elected two years ago.

Jasso said she will read an LGBT Pride Proclamation from the city and present it to the task force during the reception, which is open to the public and will run from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday. Jasso is hosting the event along with District 14 Councilwoman Angela Hunt and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, who represents District 2.

City Manager Mary Suhm, Fire-Rescue Chief Eddie Burns and Police Chief David Brown are expected to attend, Jasso said. She also plans to invite Mayor-elect Mike Rawlings. The Pride Reception will take place on the same day a new mayor and council members are sworn in, so it’s likely others will be there as well.

“I think it’s the first time,” Jasso said. “I have no idea why it’s never been done before, but the task force took it upon themselves.

“It’s an important day in the gay community, and we wanted to be sure we did something for it,” she added, referring to the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, June 28.

Jasso said a banner marking LGBT Pride Month has been on display in the lobby of City Hall since June 1.

Beginning next year, she hopes the city can fly the LGBT Pride flag outside the building for the entire month. This year, organizers didn’t have time to obtain a flag large enough and determine the necessary steps for approval.

“The next step is to see what it would take to fly the flag next year,” Jasso said.

—  John Wright

N. Texas candidates prep for runoffs

Angela Hunt and James Nowlin

Dallas, Fort Worth mayors’ races head to runoff; Hunt sails to re-election; Griggs upsets incumbent; Hightower also in runoff

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Mike Rawlings will face David Kunkle in a runoff for Dallas mayor on June 18. The two will meet in a debate sponsored by Dallas Voice on May 24 at Cathedral of Hope at 6 p.m.

Rawlings, who outspent all three of his opponents combined, drew 41 percent of the vote. Kunkle, who was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, received 32 percent of the vote.

DGLA endorsed Ron Natinsky, who got 25 percent of the vote.

Both Kunkle and Rawlings have supports from the LGBT community, but in heavily gay Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff precincts, Kunkle drew more votes.

Dallas City Council

In City Council races, Angela Hunt sailed to a re-election victory with 65 percent of the vote against three challengers. Gay candidate James Nowlin received 30 percent and Vernon Franko and Brian Oley split the remaining 5 percent.

“I was humbled by the support, especially in the Oak Lawn precincts,” Hunt said. “It meant a great deal to me.”

Because of term limits, this will be Hunt’s last two years on the council. But she said she hasn’t thought about future plans.

“We have some serious challenges we need to address over the next two years,” Hunt said.

In a rare upset, challenger Scott Griggs defeated two-term incumbent Dave Neumann in District 3.

“It’s a new day for District 3,” Griggs said. “Our message resonated with voters.”

His message included wise use of tax dollars for small economic development projects in his district and stopping gas drilling within the city limits.

Pauline Medrano who represents parts of Oak Lawn was re-elected with 75 percent of the vote.

Delia Jasso, who represents a large section of North Oak Cliff, ran unopposed.

Casie Pierce, a lesbian who was challenging Carolyn Davis for District 7 in South Dallas and Pleasant Grove, lost her race.

In District 6, Stonewall-backed Monica Alonzo defeated DGLA-backed Luis Sepulveda in the race with the lowest voter turnout.

Tarrant County

In Fort Worth, former Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Betsy Price will face former Mayor Pro Tem Jim Lane.

Of the five mayoral candidates, Price’s answers to a right-wing religious voter guide were the least LGBT-friendly, but Price said this week her answers were inaccurately represented (see story, Page 4).

In the non-partisan race, Price is running with the most Republican support, including that of U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, who is a former Fort Worth mayor.

The candidates will meet in a debate on June 1 at Four-Day Weekend Theater, 312 Houston St., Fort Worth at 5:30 p.m. Fairness Fort Worth and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the event that will be moderated by Dallas Voice Senior Editor Tammye Nash and Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Bud Kennedy.

Chris Hightower, District 5 City Council candidate in Arlington, also made it into a runoff. He will face incumbent Lana Wolff and if elected would become that city’s first openly gay elected official.

Hightower was the top vote-getter with 39 percent in a five-way race.

“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.”

—  John Wright

Community split over District 14 race

Angela Hunt, left, and James Nowlin

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

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

City redistricting committee to meet at Resource Center Dallas on Thursday night

John Loza

While the Texas Legislature is handling redistricting of state and federal legislative districts, a local committee will make recommendations for the City Council map.

That committee will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at Resource Center Dallas. Openly gay former Mayor Pro Tem John Loza is a member the committee.

The main topic of discussion will be Districts 2 and 14. Loza said one proposal will split Oak Lawn from East Dallas. Each would have its own seat. The objection to that would be the loss of a Hispanic seat. District 2, currently represented by Pauline Medrano, has been a Hispanic seat since its creation when the city was divided into 14 districts for the 1993 election. Before Medrano, the seat was held by Loza and Chris Luna.

Loza said the meeting is open to the public and is a good way to learn about and have input in the city redistricting process.

 

—  David Taffet

Council incumbents discuss election issues

Angela Hunt, from left, Delia Jasso and Pauline Medrano

Medrano, Hunt face challengers; Jasso unopposed but still plans ‘get out the vote’ effort in April

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Three incumbents — Pauline Medrano, Angela Hunt and Delia Jasso — running for re-election have forged close ties with the LGBT community. All are running for reelection, they said, because they love their jobs and each highlighted particular community issues and economic development in their districts.

The one thing all three mentioned was making Dallas more bike-friendly. Two of them — Jasso and Medrano — returned from an urban biking conference in Seville, Spain last week with ideas on how to accomplish their goal.

 

Pauline Medrano

“Crime reduction, economic development and quality of life issues” are what Medrano said she has been focused on for the past six years on the council.

Running for her fourth term as District 2 councilwoman, she said, “I take my job very seriously. I put in an eight-hour day, and I love it.”

Although she said that people in her district know her well, she is taking nothing for granted as she faces an opponent in her bid for re-election. She said she talks to people around the district daily about what she’s done and what she still plans to do.

Neighborhood watch groups have been a key to crime reduction in the district, Medrano said. She touts the 10-70-20 plans that the police department helps implement — 10 percent of a neighborhood are non-tolerant and actively report crimes, 70 percent are tolerant and uninvolved, while 20 percent make up the criminal element.

By involving more of that 70 percent, Medrano said, one neighborhood reduced crime by more than 30 percent.

Medrano said she always has her eye on the neighborhood. She said she’s out five nights a week and constantly reports street lights that are out.

“If I’m in someone else’s district, I pass on the information,” she said.

Medrano is excited about development coming to her area, including two new Krogers — one at the current Elliot’s Hardware site and another at the former Loew’s Theater site. Both neighborhoods lack convenient grocery shopping and residents asked for her help in bringing the stores to the area.

Medrano noted that Elliot’s is staying in the area and is relocating to a space across from Inwood Station that was formerly a Carnival supermarket.

The CityPlace development will also include new housing units and an LA Fitness.

Medrano called the Green Line expansion that cuts through her district the best economic engine in the area.

She said that with construction of the new Parkland Hospital, the challenge has been to keep traffic in the area moving, but once the rail line is complete, employees can walk over to the new Kroger, shop and then hop on the Green Line to get home.

Medrano said she would like to integrate an idea she got in Spain to her district’s new DART service. She called them docking stations: Run a card through the docking station to get a bicycle. Ride to DART and return it to the docking station there before boarding a train. Take the train to another station and pick up another bike.

Medrano said she talked to someone who runs the bike share program in Seville who told her it was a way of life there.

Medrano called her job a seven-day-a-week job and her work on the council a privilege and an honor.

Angela Hunt

The incumbent that attracted the most opponents in her race for re-election is Hunt, with five. One of them, Chad Lassiter, will appear on the ballot but has dropped his campaign.

Hunt’s delay in deciding whether to run for mayor or for re-election to her current seat may have been a factor in attracting those opponents. In her last two races, she was unopposed.
Hunt said she was surprised she hasn’t had opponents in the past and thought every race should have a choice of candidates, saying a choice of candidates is healthy.

Hunt said she decided to run for the council rather than mayor because, “I don’t think this council can best be run by someone from the council.”

Hunt has her eye on citywide issues like the 2012 bond package, the budget and redistricting. But she has spent a lot of her time on neighborhood issues.

“We need to be focused on more bike-friendly streets and make neighborhoods more walkable,” she said. She wants to add streetcars to downtown. She said the Katy Trail, which runs through her district, has become more than a linear park and is now used as a transportation device. She said she’d like to see the 2011 bike plan fulfilled.

On one issue, Hunt remains a holdout against the rest of the council:

“I’m still against pouring millions of tons of concrete into our floodway,” she said, adding that she wants to see “the parks the voters were promised,” which she said would be an economic generator.

Hunt called improvements to the Trinity River levee system a public safety issue.

Hunt said she has been working with police, business owners and neighborhood groups to solve problems on Lower Greenville Avenue. She said that the city would invest in streetscape improvements this summer, including planting trees and making the strip more walkable.

New zoning will require businesses to obtain city permits to remain open after midnight to lower the concentration of bars.

Hunt said she worked with neighborhood groups and the landlord to change zoning for a property on Oak Lawn Avenue. Neighborhood groups didn’t want another convenience store or liquor store on the street, and the landlord needed additional options for the space. Rezoning will allow the owner to lease the storefront as an office, a restaurant or a variety of other new possibilities.

On the other side of her district, Hunt said that while the city is investing a half-billion dollars to modernize Love Field, she’s working to address noise issues with neighborhood groups when the Wright Amendment goes away in three years.

Delia Jasso

After 20 years of trying, Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts neighborhood finally has taken off during the two years Jasso has been in office.

“I’ve liked being able to affect Bishop Arts,” Jasso said.

And, she said, she hopes to bring that success to other parts of her North Oak Cliff district.

Jasso said she is working with the city to come up with solutions to improve tricky intersections on Westmoreland Avenue and hopes to bring some of the sparkle back to Jefferson Boulevard.

But while Jasso wants to spread some of the Bishop Arts success, she is keeping a close eye on the successful area.

“I don’t want Bishop Arts to go the way of the West End,” she said.

One difference, Jasso said, is that West End developers worked hard to keep out LGBT-owned businesses while those businesses are an important ingredient in the Oak Cliff success.

Jasso said that during her first term she learned a lot and spent quite a bit of time helping small businesses navigate the city’s complicated permit and inspection process.

“Lucia is a perfect example,” she said.

Without her intervention, that new restaurant, which has already received a five-star rating, would have had a more difficult time opening.

Jasso said she would like to see some of that process streamlined.

Also recently back from the bike conference in Seville, Jasso said, “It’s amazing how easy it is to put in bike lanes. We make it hard on ourselves.”

She said studies show that women are less likely to ride bikes as transportation without buffer zones protecting them from vehicular traffic.

Jasso has become a biking enthusiast herself. She’ll be leading Bike Friendly Oak Cliff on a ride to City Hall on May 22 in honor of International Bike Day, and said she would ride in this year’s Lone Star Ride in September. Among the Lone Star Ride beneficiaries is AIDS Services of Dallas, which is in her district.

In her first two years, Jasso spearheaded an anti-graffiti campaign funded by a $100,000 donation from Mark Cuban. She initiated the GLBT Task Force to update policies and procedures and begin diversity training for Dallas Fire and Rescue. Working with a wide cross-section of animal advocate groups, Jasso also started Dallas Loves Animals.

“We need pet adoptions and [to be taught] how to treat our pets,” she said.

Although she wasn’t on the council when ExxonMobil paid the city $30 million for drilling rights inside the city limits, Jasso said she’s very concerned about the process of  frakking and what goes into the air and water.

Although she faces no opposition in the May election, Jasso said she’s running a “get out the vote campaign” in April to keep people used to voting for city council members every two years.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

Lone Star Ride training begins; 2 councilwomen receive scholarships to Velo-City conference

Lone Star Ride 2010
Lone Star Ride 2010

The Lone Star Ride held its first training ride of the year this weekend. A group of about a dozen cyclists met at the Oak Cliff Bike Shop in Bishop Arts and headed out on a 40-mile ride toward Lakewood and back.

LSR is held the last weekend in September and covers about 150 miles over two days. The ride raises money for Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Services of Dallas and the AIDS Outreach Center.

Meanwhile, the group Bike Friendly Oak Cliff announced that Dallas City Councilwomen Delia Jasso and Pauline Medrano received scholarships to attend this week’s Velo-City Conference in Seville, Spain. Only 10 city council members nationwide received full scholarships to attend.

Who knows, maybe Jasso and Medrano can be convinced to ride in this year’s Lone Star Ride.

And speaking of biking in Oak Cliff, getting a parking space in Bishop Arts on a Saturday morning is getting difficult. Oh, plenty of car parking. But the bike racks in front of Oddfellows — the new coffee shop that took Vitto’s old space — fill up fast.

 

—  David Taffet