Lame-duck Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jasso, defeated in the May 11 election, has abruptly withdrawn her support for an LGBT equality resolution, meaning Mayor Mike Rawlings is no longer required to place the resolution on the council agenda.
According to an email from the city secretary to council members on Tuesday, Jasso has pulled her signature from a memo in support of the equality resolution that she signed in April. Jasso was one of five council members who signed the memo, the required number to force Rawlings to place the resolution on the agenda under the city charter.
When she signed the memo, Jasso was running against fellow incumbent Scott Griggs, who authored the resolution, in District 1. Griggs handiy defeated Jasso May 11 after they were both placed in the same district when council maps were redrawn in 2011.
In response to Jasso’s decision to pull her signature from the memo, Griggs noted that Rawlings publicly came out in support of the resolution for the first time only hours before — in today’s Dallas Morning News. Griggs said he’s hoping that even though he’s not required to and once called the resolution a “misuse” of the council’s time, Rawlings will still place it on the agenda.
Griggs has said he has the eight votes needed to pass the resolution — but the current council leaves office at the end of June. Before Jasso pulled her signature, the resolution was scheduled for a vote June 12.
“I’d still like it to move forward, and I think we’ve got the votes, and I’m enthusiastic about the mayor’s support,” Griggs said. “I think it would send a great message.”
Rawlings chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, said Wednesday morning that the mayor does not plan to place the resolution on the agenda.
Jasso has not returned phone message since the election and could not be reached Tuesday. Gary Sanchez, openly gay assistant to Jasso, declined to comment, saying it was still “really fresh.”
Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Councilwoman Angela Hunt, a staunch LGBT ally who also signed the memo, said she was disappointed but not surprised by Jasso’s actions, which she called “a slap in the face.” Jasso launched an LGBT Task Force after taking office in 2009, but Hunt suggested Jasso’s support for the LGBT community was politically motivated.
“I find it incredibly disappointing,” Hunt said of Jasso’s decision to pull her signature. “I think it’s indicative of a political opportunist.
“I wish I could say this was out of character for Delia, but unfortunately I’ve seen this type of flip-flopping continuously throughout her time on the council, depending on which way the political winds are blowing,” Hunt said. “On the bright side, we have someone like Scott Griggs now representing that area, and we know Scott’s value, and we know when he says something you can take it to the bank.”
Hunt, who will leave office at the end of June due to term limits, also said she still hopes the mayor will place the item on the agenda.
“I don’t know why this is necessarily a roadblock,” Hunt said. “It’s disappointing, but it shouldn’t be an impediment to our hearing the resolution before the end of this council session.”
Members of Jasso’s LGBT Task Force, which met Tuesday night, declined to comment after the meeting. Jasso did not attend.
Omar Narvaez, a Task Force member who is president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, posted later on the group’s Facebook page:
“I am thoroughly disappointed, hurt and surprised,” Narvaez wrote. “I had a long long long phone call with her tonight, and her reasons are her reasons, and she will have to deal with them. As one of her most staunch supporters, I withdrew any and all support for her. This is not the end all of everything, but merely a bump in the road. Sadly, Dallas will be behind on history.
“At the end of the day losing my support and the support of so many may mean nothing as she is leaving office, but more than anything she has lost my respect,” Narvaez wrote. “I have never been so disappointed or felt so betrayed by an elected official and ally as I am now.”
Read the memo from the city secretary below.