FW mayoral candidates denounce discrimination

Jim Lane and Betsy Price

 

Price, Lane face off in runoff to replace Moncrief, will attend LGBT forum Wednesday

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — After nearly two years of unprecedented progress on LGBT issues within the Fort Worth city government, Cowtown’s LGBT residents are now facing the prospect of not having Mike Moncrief in the mayor’s seat at City Hall.

Although Moncrief probably can’t be described as the LGBT community’s biggest cheerleader, in the 22 months since the raid on the Rainbow Lounge, he has at least been a steadfast voice for equal treatment and has supported a number of changes proposed by the City Manager’s Diversity Task Force.

Those changes included amending the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to add protections based on gender identity and gender expression, despite often strident opposition from some of Fort Worth’s most conservative residents.

But with Moncrief choosing not to run for re-election this year, LGBT residents now find themselves faced with a choice between former tax-assessor/collector Betsy Price and attorney and former City Council member Jim Lane.

City elections are nonpartisan, but it is no secret that Price is Republican and Lane is a Democrat.

Price came in way ahead in the May 14 general election, pulling down 43 percent of the vote. Lane claimed his spot in the runoff with 26 percent.

Price comes into the race with endorsements from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Fort Worth Business Press and, generally, speaking has the backing of the city’s business community. Lane, on the other hand, is backed by the city’s firefighter and police officers associations, as well as the Retired Firefighters Association, the African American Firefighters association, former fire chief Larry McMillen, former police chief Ralph Mendoza and District Attorney Joe Shannon.

This week, Lane announced that he has also been endorsed by two of the other three candidates from the general election: Cathy Hirt, who was third in the general election with 21 percent and Nicholas Zebrun, who won less than 1 percent of the vote.

The fifth general election candidate, former state Rep. Dan Barrett, has not backed either candidate in the runoff. He garnered 8 percent of the general election vote.

Turnout in Fort Worth’s general election barely topped 10 percent of the city’s 326,623 registered voters. And both Price and Lane said that getting their supporters back to the polls on June 18 for the runoff will be the key to victory.

“We obviously had, far and away, the most voters on Election Day,” Price said. “What we have to do now is reach and touch our voters again and get them back to the polls for the runoff. We’re going to send out mailers, call people, knock doors, do meet-and-greet events. I’m going to get out there and shake hands and get to know people.”

Price said she would also be sticking to her same message that put her in the lead in May.

“Our message is about bringing good business sense to City Hall, about cutting taxes and building a stronger economy. We have to have an open, friendly, diverse and receptive city to do that well,” Price said.

Lane said this week he knows he has some ground to make up, based on the numbers from the general election. But he said he believes Hirt’s endorsement this week gives him a head start.

“I think that is a really wonderful endorsement to have. She is extremely bright and well thought of, and she got 21 percent of the vote on May 14,” Lane said. “Nicholas Zebrun has endorsed me, and that helps too. And I am going to try and meet with Dan Barrett to ask for his endorsement too.

“We’ve seen a lot of motivation from our voters, and Cathy Hirt has a very avid support group,” Lane added. “I think they will all be enthusiastic about coming back out to vote.”

Some political watchers in Fort Worth have suggested that the runoff  between Dennis Shingleton and Jon Perry for the District 7 City Council seat could help swing turnout in Price’s favor, since that district is located in the city’s more conservative northwest area. But Lane noted this week that he is from that area of the city, and that he has significant support there, too.

Lane also questioned Price’s pledge to “bring good business sense to City Hall,” saying that his 12 years on the Council give him insights into how city government operates that Price doesn’t have.

“The way our government is set up, you have to build coalitions to get things done. You have to talk to each council member about the issues in their district, work with them to determine what will be the best policy for the city manager to implement. These are all going to be seasoned council members — except in District 7 — and the mayor is going to be the one who’s the new kid on the block,” Lane said. “I’m the one who has the experience to do those things.”

With turnout being such a key issue in who wins, Fort Worth’s LGBT community has the opportunity to have significant impact on the outcome. Both Price and Lane know that, and both have voiced their support on issues of equality.

Both have also committed to participate in a forum on Wednesday, June 1, sponsored by Fairness Fort Worth and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.

Since Tarrant County officials have never dealt directly with LGBT issues, Price’s stance there is something of an unknown. However, her replies published in a “voters guide” issued by right-wing minister Richard Clough’s Texans for Faith and Family, gave many in the community pause.

According to Clough’s voters guide, Price agreed that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman, and “strongly agreed” that the city should not spend money to advertise in LGBT publications.

Price did not respond in the voters guide to a question on whether the city’s ordinance protecting transgenders from discrimination is necessary.

But Price said Clough’s voters guide misrepresented her reply on the issue of spending money in LGBT publications: “That whole thing with the Faith and Family brochure — they didn’t print the explanations with the answers,” Price said. “What I said was that the city doesn’t need to be advertising anywhere right now. It’s just too expensive. But if we are advertising in one [minority] publication, we should be advertising with ya’ll [the LGBT press], too. If we are advertising for job candidates, then we need to be advertising everywhere that there will be good candidates.”

When asked about the transgender anti-discrimination ordinance, Price — who was calling from her cell while traveling between locations — apparently misunderstood the question and instead spoke to the issue of trans health benefits.

“The question was about paying for [gender reassignment] surgery, I believe, and that’s a cost issue. At this point I would have to spend more time studying it before I could say one way or another,” Price said. “I don’t think the city’s insurance pays for fertility surgery either.”

The bottom line, Price said, is that “We should never discriminate, not against anyone. We’re all God’s kids. I know that’s rhetoric, but that’s the way it is. That’s what I believe. Treat everyone fairly.”

On the question of health benefits for trans employees, Lane said that he, too, needed to study the issue further before taking a stand, noting that he has asked Fairness Fort Worth Tom Anable help him understand “what sexual reassignment is.”

Both Lane and Price, when asked about other special health needs short of reassignment surgery that transgender face, said they were not aware of such issues and would have to study the questions further before answering.

Lane, however, compared the issue to his wife’s recent bout with breast cancer.

“If it’s an issue for someone, it should be covered,” Lane said. “We [the city of Fort Worth] are self insured, and we should be covering our employees’ health needs.”

Lane also noted that he has a proven public record on LGBT issues that voters can rely on. He was on the City Council in 2001 when sexual orientation was added to Fort Worth’s nondiscrimination ordinance, a move he supported.

“We did all that before,” Lane said, “and those 19 proposals the City Manager’s Diversity Task Force came up with, if I had been on the council then [in 2009] I would have supported every one of them. These [LGBTs] are citizens just like anybody else, as far as I am concerned. It’s a pretty practical issue. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter how you look at it, we shouldn’t discriminate against anybody. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly and equally.”

—  John Wright

GLBT Chamber, Fairness Fort Worth to host forum for FW mayoral runoff candidates

Fort Worth mayoral candidates Betsy Price and Jim Lane

Former Tax Assessor-Collector Betsy Price and former City Councilman Jim Lane are headed to a runoff to determine who will be the next mayor of Fort Worth, and Cowtown’s LGBT community will have the chance to see where the candidates stand on the issues when the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce and Fairness Fort Worth host an candidate forum Wednesday, June 1, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Four-Day Weekend theater, 312 Houston St., in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square.

Questions for the candidates must be submitted in advance, and those asking the questions can remain anonymous. Submit questions via email to FairnessFtWorth@aol.com. The forum will be moderated by Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy and by me, Dallas Voice Senior Editor Tammye Nash.

Price ended Election Day with a significant lead at the ballot box, bringing in 44 percent of the 33,581 votes cast in the mayoral race. Lane trailed by nearly 20 percentage points, with 26 percent.

Another former council member, Cathy Hirt, was third in the five-way race with 21 percent, and former State Rep. Dan Barrett was fourth with 8 percent. Independent filmmaker Nicholas Zebrun, the youngest of the five candidates, received 1 percent of the vote.

Of the 327,307 registered voters eligible to cast a ballot in the Fort Worth mayoral election, only 10 percent did so.

—  admin

Fort Worth elections round-up

UNOPPOSED | Openly gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, right, pictured here with his partner J.D. Angle, is unopposed in this bid for a second full term on the council. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Conservative’s ‘voter guide’ offers some warnings for LGBT voters and their allies

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth residents will head to the ballot box Saturday, May 14, to cast their ballots in elections that will decide who will replace Mike Moncrief as mayor and who will make up the City Council.

Those choices could have a significant impact on how the relationship between the city government and Cowtown’s LGBT community continues to develop in the years ahead.

District 9 Councilman Joel Burns — Fort Worth’s first and so far only openly gay councilmember — is running unopposed for his second full term on the council. And District 8 Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks, considered the LGBT’s strongest non-gay ally on the council, is also unopposed in her re-election bid.

Also unopposed in District 3 incumbent W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman, who voted in favor of adding protections for transgenders to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.

But other two other councilmembers who, over the last 18 months since the Rainbow Lounge raid, have voted in support of LGBT-positive efforts including an amendment adding protections based on gender identity and gender expression to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, face challengers this time around.

And in District 7, incumbent Carter Burdette — who voted against the trans protections — is not running for re-election, leaving a field of five candidates to fight for his seat. Those challengers include Jack Ernest, who called the transgender protection ordinance “damnable” at a candidate forum last month.

While no LGBT political organization in Tarrant County has issued endorsements in the council elections, conservative Christian activist the Rev. Richard Clough has issued a “voter guide” that polls the candidates on their views on 10 “precepts,” a list that includes questions on same-sex marriage and the trans protection ordinance.

The guide could serve as a warning as much for LGBT voters and their allies as for the right-wing conservatives Clough was apparently targeting.
Clough, an evangelist with Kenneth Copeland Ministries, issued the voters’ guide earlier this month under the name Texans for Faith and Family. Only nine of the total 22 candidates running for either mayor or City Council replied.

Candidates were asked to say whether they strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with Clough’s “20 precepts,” statements that ran the gamut from legalizing casino gambling to support for Israel. Only four of the 10 specifically addressed issues actually pertinent to city governance.

The three precepts related to LGBT issues were “Marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman;” “City tax dollars should not be used to advertise with the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender) community” and “The city’s Transgender Ordinance is not a needed law.”

Of the five candidates running for mayor of Fort Worth, only two — Betsy Price (whose first name was misspelled “Besty” on Clough’s printed guide) and dark horse Nicholas Zebrun — replied to Clough.

Zebrun disagreed with all Clough’s precepts concerning defining marriage and spending money to promote the city to LGBT tourists and conventions, and he “strongly disagreed” that the trans protection ordinance is not needed.

Price, however, agreed that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman, and “strongly agreed” that tax dollars should not be used to promote Fort Worth as a destination for LGBT tourists.

Price did not respond to the precept regarding the trans protection ordinance.

District 2 incumbent Sal Espino, who has supported LGBT-positive initiatives, did not reply to Clough’s precepts, while his challenger, Paul Rudisill indicated strong agreement across the board with all 10 precepts.

Another incumbent who supported LGBT-positive initiatives on the council is Frank Moss who is facing two challengers in his District 5 re-election bid.

Neither Moss nor challenger Charles Hibbler responded to Clough’s precepts, but the third candidate, Rickie Clark, indicated strong agreement for nine of the 10. She didn’t respond to the precept at “Sharia law should not be allowed to be practiced in the United States.”

In District 6, incumbent Jungus Jordan replied with “strong agreement” to all 10 precepts. His opponent, Tolli Thomas, did not respond to Clough’s voter guide.

Dennis Shingleton was the only District 7 candidate who did not respond to the voters guide. Ernest “strongly agreed” with all 10 precepts, while John

Perry agreed with the three anti-gay precepts and either agreed or “strongly agreed” with the remaining seven.

District 7 candidate Lee Henderson did not respond to the precept on defining marriage, and disagreed with the precepts on LGBT advertising and the transgender protection ordinance. The fourth candidate, Jonathan Horton, did not respond to the precepts on LGBT advertising or defining marriage, but did agree that the transgender protections ordinance is unnecessary.

District 4 incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem Danny Scarth faces challenger Lupe Arriola in his re-election bid. Neither candidate responded to Clough’s voter guide precepts.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Right-wing evangelist puts out ‘voters guide’ for Fort Worth city elections

Richard Clough

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A right-wing evangelist from Kenneth Copeland’s church has distributed a “voters guide” to Fort Worth city elections, the Star-Telegram’s Bud Kennedy reports. The Rev. Richard Clough, a failed political candidate operating under the name Texans for Faith and Family, sent questionnaires to city council candidates seeking their positions on so-called “precepts” about sharia law, abortion and, of course, LGBT issues. Nine of the 22 council candidates actually responded to the survey, with some indicating through their responses that they strongly oppose LGBT equality. So perhaps this is as much a voters guide for the LGBT community and its allies as it is for the fundies. View the candidates responses by going here.

2. East Dallas garden designer Robert Bellamy will host a second “Light A Fire” anti-bullying event benefiting Youth First Texas tonight, the Dallas Morning News reports. While the first “Light A Fire” event was geared toward teachers, this one will be geared toward parents. Speakers will include Dallas mayoral candidate Mike Rawlings, YFT director Sam Wilkes, Dotty Griffith from the American Civil Liberties Union, and Wendy Ringe of the Human Rights Campaign. Admission is free, but a $25 donation to Youth First Texas is suggested. The event is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave.

3. In its cover story this week, the Dallas Observer takes a look at the Latin American drag shows, or “travesty shows,” that have become popular at Taquerias around Dallas. Although the topic is hardly new, it’s a pretty good story with some really good photography. But we’re not sure some transgender advocates will appreciate the online headline for the article: “Tortillas and Trannies at Dallas Taquerias.”

—  John Wright