Becky Miller says she believes Ron Branson is only running against her out of personal dislike
CARROLLTON — Mayor Becky Miller is again under fire for riding in Dallas’ gay Pride parade in 2006.
Miller’s appearance in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade led to a petition signed by 75 residents that was submitted to the City Council last year. The petition, which demanded that city officials refrain from such appearances in the future, was never acted on by the council.
Now, Miller’s only challenger in the May 10 election, former City Councilman Ron Branson, has resurrected the issue on his campaign Web site.
"I guess I could participate in a controversial parade, but I would never plaster ‘Carrollton Mayor’ on the side of my vehicle," Branson’s Web site, www.runwithron.com, states under the section titled, "Why Run For Mayor?"
Contacted this week, Branson said he believes city officials should be free to participate in any parade they want as individuals, but not as representatives of Carrollton.
"I think it’s pretty important to stay away from controversial issues like that," Branson told Dallas Voice. "It’s just not a lifestyle that I endorse."
Branson, who left the council for health reasons in 2006, reportedly has attracted little support for his mayoral bid, and he isn’t accepting campaign contributions.
Miller, who’s seeking her second term as mayor, said she’s secured all the big-name endorsements in the race. Miller said Branson was divisive when he served on the council and is running because he personally dislikes her.
"I just don’t think that he really has a chance of winning," Miller said. "I have the support of the people."
Miller’s support includes those who rallied around her after the petition was submitted to the council last April in response to her appearance in the parade. About 50 people showed up at City Hall to express their opposition to the petition, while only one spoke in favor of it.
"People have been supportive of me because I’ve said that I represent everybody in the community, and I will not judge people," said Miller, who has a lesbian aunt. "I think everybody’s moved past that [the parade issue]. I don’t understand why some of them don’t want to let it go."
Miller said she didn’t appear in Dallas’ 2007 gay Pride parade because of a prior commitment. She said she’d like to be in the parade again but may not due to threats that were made against her and her family following her appearance in 2006.
"I just don’t know whether it’s worth the hassle of having to deal with people who are so hateful," Miller said, declining to elaborate on the alleged threats. "They were some scary times for me."
Miller was asked to appear in the parade by friend and supporter Bob McCranie, an openly gay Carrollton real estate agent.
McCranie started the Carrollton Project, an LGBT equality group, in September 2006 after his sexual orientation became a contentious issue in that year’s city elections.
McCranie said he was kicked off the campaigns of two City Council candidates in 2006 because he’s gay. When another candidate McCranie supported won, the loser criticized his opponent in an e-mail for accepting help from "gay Bob" and the "big sissy."
The Carrollton Project, which organized the opposition to last year’s petition, now has 35 to 40 members and meets monthly, McCranie said.
McCranie said the fact that Miller hasn’t drawn a more formidable opponent this year is a positive sign for Carrollton. Three other incumbent councilmembers are running unopposed.
"This election didn’t bring in the opposition like we thought it would," McCranie said. "I think the city is going in a really good direction."
McCranie said he believes the 2009 Carrollton city elections will attract more candidates, because there will be three open seats vacated by sitting councilmembers due to term limits.
"I think most people who are eyeing a seat on the council are going to wait until next time, when it’s a free-for-all," McCranie said. "I hope in the next election we can change the face of the city and have a lot of diversity."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 21, 2008