2 candidates launch mayoral campaigns

Jim Moore, left, and Ron Natinsky

Natinsky, Moore outline campaign issues, both claim LGBT support

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice

With incumbent Dalla Mayor Tom Leppert confirming this week that he will not run for re-election in May, the field of candidates to replace him has begun to fill up.

District 14 City Councilmember Angela Hunt last week said she was considering a run for mayor, but while she has not publicly made up her mind yet, two other candidates have.

District 12 Councilman Ron Natinsky made his mayoral candidacy definite with an announcement on Monday, Jan. 17, and Jim Moore, an attorney whose practice is based in Oak Lawn, has also declared himself a candidate.

Both Natinsky and Moore said this week that they will be reaching out to the LGBT community for votes. And both said they already have support from the community.

“I want to get support from all the communities. I will be campaigning equally in all parts of the city because I am going to treat everyone equally,” Moore said.

But he acknowledged that he has a special fondness for the Oak Lawn area because he lived in the neighborhood for many years and his office has been located here since he opened his practice in 1984.

“These are the restaurants I eat at. These are the people I socialize with. These are my friends. The LGBT community knows me and trusts me,” Moore said, adding that openly gay former Dallas City Councilmen John Loza is “a dear friend” and one of his campaign advisors.

Moore, who recently joined the LGBT political group Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said that new Stonewall president Omar Narvaez is also a close friend. Narvaez, in a previous interview, said he would not speak publicly about supporting or endorsing any candidate until after Stonewall Democrats has held candidate screenings and issued endorsements.
Natinsky also can point to gay former councilmembers in his roster of supporters.

“Ed Oakley [who was on the council and ran his own high-profile race for mayor against Leppert in 2007] called from Thailand yesterday [Wednesday] to say that he is endorsing me,” Natinsky said. “Craig Holcombe [another gay former councilmember] is also supporting my campaign. And there are several others in the community who have signed on to support me and give me their endorsements.”

Natinsky, who has been on the City Council since 2005, said Thursday that he has “been involved at City Hall” for 25 years, and that he has consistently supported issues in the LGBT community.

“I have had a significant number of people in the LGBT community support me in my previous races for the council. I have been endorsed by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. I have participated in events and have ridden in the parade,” he said. “I am committed to doing those sorts of things.

“It’s hard to second-guess what specific issues that affect the LGBT community might come up in front of the council,” he continued. “But my attitude is the same on every issue, to roll up my sleeves and work it through.”
Moore said that if he will be “the candidate of the common guy,” and that if he is elected, he will continue to reach out to his constituents for input.

“When I am mayor, I am going to spend my Saturdays going to the grocery store in Oak Cliff or Lake Highlands. I am going to go to the Kroger on Cedar Springs. I will go to J.R.’s. I am going to talk to the people and her what they have to say. I’m not going to spend my time at the country club, playing golf and sitting around,” Moore said.

The issues

Moore said that public safety is “a huge issue,” and offered a plan to get the private sector involved in making the city safer.

“I talk to people all the time who live in fear, and that’s not much of a life,” Moore said. “Our focus needs to be on making citizens more comfortable living here rather than building a half-billion-dollar hotel that most people who live here will never even see.”

Saying that much of the funding for the city’s revamped Arts District came from the private sector, Moore added, “I love the generosity of Dallasites that do those things. I love what the private sector has done for this city. And I have this vision of converting a lot of the public safety efforts to the private sector.”

Moore said that about 80 percent of all crime in the city is property crime committed in parking lots outside of stores.

The companies that run those stores could take responsibility for putting police watchtowers in those parking lots — and in other high-traffic areas susceptible to crime — and not only help their customers by keeping them safer, but gain a highly visible advertising platform as well.

“It’s just a creative way of making sure the public is safe without spending tax dollars. If I can sell that idea, we won’t need those 600 officers the police department is short right now,” he said.

Moore also proposed working to help forge alliances Dallas Independent School District and private sector corporations, such as programs through which corporations could adopt a school and donate funds and supplies to help those schools out.

Such a partnership, he said, would help improve public schools that are hurting for funds, and improving the schools makes the city more attractive to potential new corporate citizens, thus improving the city’s tax base and stimulating economic growth.

For Natinsky, the key to the city’s future is economic development.

He said Dallas has been “very fortunate overall” during the recent economic downtown, and while “we have had our issues to deal with,” the situation has not been as drastic as in other cities.

“I think we have started to turn the corner. Our sales tax revenue is starting to come back up, and our building permits are up,” Natinsky said, and that makes Dallas attractive to companies looking to relocate from the hard-hit regions of the West Coast and what he called “the rusty northeast.”

Bringing new companies to the city means “growing the economic base and providing jobs for the people who are here, and provides a foundation for the things that everybody wants to get done.”

Natinsky said the city has made strides in reducing the crime rate, and that continuing that trend — as well as providing the necessary city services — depend on economic growth. But Dallas needs to pay attention to more than just the basics, he said.

“We work hard here in Dallas, and we play hard, too. People want their parks and recreation centers and the opera house and the theaters. We have got to have those things to balance out the ‘work’ part of people’s lives. They are very important assets,” he said.

While others suggest the city cut back in those areas to make up for the lack of revenue during the recession, Natinsky said that instead the city should “reinvent the way the city government operates.

“There is always the question of revenue vs. expenses, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut services,” he said. “If you find more efficient ways to provide those services, you lower costs and you don’t have to cut services. I think you can always find more efficient ways of operating.

“And if we can work more efficiently and at the same time grow the economic pie, grow our tax base, we can lessen the tax burden on everyone who lives here and at the same time continue to provide the services we need.”

The elections

Dallas municipal elections will be held May 14. All 14 council seats and the mayor’s seat are up for election.

The first day to file as a candidate is Feb. 14, and the filing deadline is March 14.

The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance PAC will be sending out informational packets and setting screening appointments with candidates seeking the DGLA endorsement probably beginning in late February or early March.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will hold its candidate screening session on March 19.

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

—  John Wright

Meet every candidate and their brother at Ojeda’s tonight

With midterm elections exactly two weeks away, and early voting already in full swing, you can bet it’ll be standing room only at Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ monthly general meeting at Ojeda’s tonight. SDD is the largest LGBT political group based in North Texas, and many of its endorsed candidates will undoubtedly be on hand for the last meeting before the Nov. 2 vote. One who’ll definitely be there is Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who’s scheduled to speak. Also addressing the group will be the Dallas Police Deparmtent’s LGBT liaison officer, Laura Martin, and Youth First Texas’ Sam Wilkes. Besides, it’s worth it just for the margaritas.

DEETS: Ojeda’s, 4617 Maple Ave. Dallas. Free. StonewallDemocratsofDallas.com

—  John Wright

Young Stonewall wants to ‘Light Up Oak Lawn’

Political group seeks money from grants and other sources to fund lighting safety program for entertainment district

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Brian Stout
Brian Stout

Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats this week unveiled their new effort to make Oak Lawn safer by improving lighting in the area.

DSYD announced the “Light Up the Night” campaign during a meet on Tuesday, Aug. 10 at JR.’s Bar & Grill, explaining that the group plans to raise money to add lighting to the neighborhood bounded by Oak Lawn, Maple, Wycliff and Lemmon avenues, according to DSYD Communications Director Michael Maldonado.

The Cedar Springs area is included in one of the Dallas Police Department’s 26 Target Action Area Grids. Last year that TAAG recorded the third-most violent crimes in the city.

Reported violent crimes in the area have decreased considerably this year.

Latisha McDaniel, who lives on Hall Street in Oak Lawn, was one of those attending the meeting. She said poor lighting is a real problem for residents.

“It’s scary to walk alone because it’s so poorly lit,” McDaniel said.

Several holdups in the neighborhood were mentioned, including an incident in which two people were robbed near the Seville apartments on Reagan Street, and another in which three people were held up in front of an apartment behind the CVS Pharmacy on Lemmon Avenue.

David Richardson, who owns Skivvies and has had other stores along Cedar Springs over the past for 30 years and was among the founders of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said he has seen “huge improvements” in Oak Lawn over the years.

He said safety has always been a concern and recalled when prostitutes were a common sight along Cedar Springs Road and drug dealers and hustlers hung out on the streets behind the bars. He attended the meeting and said he is delighted with DSYD’s efforts.

“I’m glad to see another group step up to help us,” he said.

DSYD President Pennington Ingley said the group looked at studies from around the United States and Great Britain that showed that crime decreased in neighborhoods when lighting improved.

One concern was that crime would simply move from the newly-well-lit streets to other nearby streets. But Ingley said that the studies showed that improved lighting in one area has a positive effect on neighboring areas as well.

Ingley said that despite police statistics that show a decrease in crime in the area this year, he hasn’t seen any improvement in the four years he has lived on Reagan Street.

“People walk in complete darkness on Reagan Street from the Seville to Cedar Springs,” he said.

He joked that there is a solution, which is why they named the project “Light Up Oak Lawn” rather than “Stop the Muggings.”

Vice President Brian Stout said that the board walked every street in the area to map every working streetlight.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to how they’re laid out,” Stout said.

DSYD Political Director Jennifer Allen said the group also studied what lights to purchase and how to fund the project.

“We need 200 to 350 more lights to have adequate lighting in the area,” she said.

She said they recommended low-sodium LED lighting that would cost $1,000 to $1,500 per unit. Fully funding the project could cost $.5 million.

Allen said there were cheaper alternatives to getting the streets lit sooner that used bulbs. But those bulbs would burn out sooner and use more electricity.

She added that DSYD are exploring several sources of funding including economic development grants, money from foundations, neighborhood developers and government grants. Members have spoken to Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt about working with city grant writers to help obtain the money.

At the meeting, DSYD members acknowledged the city’s tight budget situation. While they expected the city to back the plan, they said did not expect the council to vote money to help pay for it.

Michael Milliken is active with the Oak Lawn Committee, which deals with zoning issues in the area. He extended an offer to work with DSYD, especially with helping them make contacts in City Hall.

DSYD Secretary Jared Pearce said that getting grants would take some time but that the group hopes the project can be completed within two years.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas