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

Santa’s helper

GIFTS A-PLENTY | Steven Graves of Steven Graves Insurance Agency gets ready to deliver the more than 40 gifts he donated as part of the Leather Knights’ Angel Tree Project. “We wanted to make sure that everybody had a happy Christmas. This community gives to us so much, and we wanted to give back,” Graves said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens