Runoff likely in District 14, where frontrunners Abtahi, Kingston and Rogers have all expressed strong support for the LGBT community


Bobby Abtahi, right, Philip Kingston, center, Jim Rogers, right

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

Screen shot 2013-04-26 at 9.46.56 AMWith a crowded field of seven candidates in the District 14 race, three have emerged as frontrunners, but a runoff is expected.

All of the candidates were contacted twice, but only four returned questionnaires to Dallas Voice. Three of those — Bobby Abtahi, Philip Kingston and Jim Rogers — also sought the endorsements of both Stonewall Democrats and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

Judy Liimatainen also returned a Dallas Voice questionnaire. David Blewett, Kevin Curley and Chuck Kobdish did not, although Curley sought DGLA’s nod.

Stonewall Democrats Political Chair Jeff Strater said he was disturbed that four candidates for the seat did not seek the Stonewall endorsement.

“The last time there was an open seat, all participated,” he said.

Of the three remaining candidates, Strater supports Abtahi.

“I know his experience on the city planning and zoning commission, and he did a great job,” Strater said.

Abtahi, 31, earned a law degree from University of Texas and is a community prosecutor who worked with police, fire and neighborhood groups on code and zoning cases. He’s a member of Preservation Dallas, Dallas Historical Society, Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, the Mayor’s Southern Dallas Task Force and Alpha Kappa Psi Alumni Association and is a board member of Friends of Fair Park.

“He contacted me and others early on to make sure what he knew about the LGBT community was correct and to learn more about us,” Strater said.

He called Abtahi a coalition builder and authentic. Abtahi received the Stonewall endorsement.

Rogers, 65, is also an attorney but said his degree as an accountant makes him more valuable to the City Council.

He’s a member of the Love Field Citizens Action Committee and has served on the Dallas Urban Rehabilitation Standards Board and the Dallas Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee.

Gay former Plan Commissioner Neil Emmons said he’s worked with Rogers on neighborhood issues for 15 years and called him the candidate with depth.

“He’s the most truthful, trustworthy and transparent person I know,” Emmons said. “He’ll be one of the few elected officials who will remain the same person after the election as before Election Day.”

Emmons believes Rogers, who has a 30-year history of voting Democratic, deserved the Stonewall endorsement.

He described Rogers’ grasp of figures in talking about a $1 billion shortfall in funding the Trinity Toll Road project.

“He has numbers at his fingertips,” Emmons said. “So smart.”

Rogers received DGLA’s endorsement.

Kingston, 40, is a litigation attorney who has received the Outstanding Clinic Attorney Award three times from the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program.

In his East Dallas neighborhood, he’s known for creating the Belmont Addition Conservation District. He’s been a member of the Greater Dallas Planning Council and has served on ForwardDallas!, a task force devoted to promoting comprehensive planning across Dallas.

Trans activist Nell Gaither endorsed Kingston after he approached her at a Stonewall meeting. She said he asked to meet with her about her work on transgender insurance coverage for city employees.

“He’s the first candidate who sought someone out to find out about trans issues and get their input,” she said.

She said they spoke for three hours and was impressed by his interest in the issue.

Kingston is backed by incumbent Angela Hunt as well as former District 2 Councilman John Loza. Former state Reps. Harryette Ehrhardt and John Bryant support Rogers.  Abtahi has the backing of former Council members Craig McDaniel, Craig Holcomb, Chris Luna, Ed Oakley and Veletta Lill, as well as District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons. Outside of the District 13 race, Abtahi was the biggest fundraiser citywide with $159,000 before the April filing deadline. Curley had $68,000 but almost of that he lent to the campaign himself. Kingston was next with $52,000, and Rogers brought in $27,500.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 26, 2013.