Long-time community activist Jack Borden, 65, said this week he decided to run for the District 108 seat in the Texas House of Representatives because he considers it his duty as a citizen and a Democrat to give voters an alternative to the incumbent, Representative Dan Branch, a Republican.
Borden, a gay man, faces Tom Malin, also a gay man, in the Democratic Primary.
Borden, a retired salesman, said he made the decision to run several months ago, but waited until right before the deadline to file because he was concentrating his efforts on getting Democrats to run for as many offices as possible. He said he believes Malin is running because “someone put him up to it, because they don’t want me to run.”
Borden said he is “the only true Democrat” running for District 108 in the primary and compared his own voting record to Malin’s, which, according to records on file with the Dallas County Elections administrator, only dates back to 2002.
“I am proud to say I have voted in every election, no matter how small, since I was old enough to vote,” Borden said.
Branch, a two-term incumbent, is chairman of the Budget and Oversight subcommittee of the Public Education Committee in the House.
Borden said that school finance reform is the top issues in the District 108 race this year, and that he believes the Legislature’s failure to pass education finance reform last year makes Branch, and other Republicans, vulnerable.
“School finance is the number one issue, and with that comes the issue of taxation. I don’t want to see the little people be the ones having to pay for it all,” Borden said.
He said that few of the corporations in Texas actually pay taxes in the state, and “that’s where we go to finance the schools. Make the corporations pay the taxes they should be paying.”
Another top priority for Borden is the crime rate in Texas, especially in Dallas, he said.
“We need more funding from the state to do something about the crime rate, but instead they [state officials] are talking about wasting the taxpayers’ money to build some big wall along the border to keep out illegal immigrants,” Borden said. “I think we should be working to make it easier for the immigrants to become citizens so they can be good, tax-paying citizens, too.”
He also pledged to make sure that GLBT community organizations “get the funding they deserve” from the state.
Borden ran as the Democratic candidate for Dallas County treasurer in 2002, losing to the Republican candidate Lisa Hembry. In the spring of 2005, he announced his candidacy for the District 14 seat on the Dallas City Council but was unable to secure enough signatures to get his name on the ballot.
Borden said he ran for treasurer because “sometimes there’s just a situation where somebody has to put their name on the ballot, so you aren’t just handing it to the other person. Sometimes you just have to give the people a choice.”
“As Democrats, we should fight for every office. Somebody has to at least give it a try, even if they lose,” he said.
He called his aborted race for the City Council last year “a mistake.”
Borden acknowledged that he has never served on a city or county board or committee, and that he believes doing so would interfere with his community activism.
“I can do more for the community and for individuals if I am not on any boards than if I were,” Borden said. “When you are on a board or committee, then you are always beholden to whoever appointed you. I would rather represent the people,” he said.
Borden is a native of Pennsylvania. He moved to Texas in 1975 after serving a stint in the U.S. Air Force. He said he soon became active in the GLBT community here and has remained so ever since.
Borden said he has participated in the Firedancers club and several of the earliest AIDS fundraising events. He said he participated in the first meeting of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, now the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and that he has supported AIDS Services of Dallas since its inception. He also is a long-time supporter of the food pantry operated by the Resource Center of Dallas, Borden said.
He is also a member of the Oak Lawn Crime Watch, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Knights of Columbus.
“I am a people’s person,” Borden said. “If somebody has a problem, they come to me and I find a way to solve the problem. I think that God put me on earth to help other people, and I am proud of what I have done.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2006.