Dallas May Get Gay Mayor
The latest twist in the gay-friendly makeover of Dallas, Texas, sees an openly gay mayoral candidate going head to head with a supporter of one of Texas’ most anti-gay politicians.
Should openly gay City Councilman Ed Oakley win the runoff, Dallas (which weighs in as the nation’s ninth-largest city) would be the first major metropolis to have elected an openly gay mayor, according to a Yahoo! News online reprint of an article from The Advocate.
Oakley’s openly gay status has given opponents an opportunity for attack, and they have not wasted it. On May 12, the day of the mayoral primary, Dallas residents received anonymous phone calls and were told, "Ed Oakley has a radical gay agenda for Dallas," according to the Advocate article. Bloggers immediately denounced the tactic as an ethical violation; voters gave Oakley 21 percent of the result, bringing him in at second place, with Leppert leading him at 27 percent. None of the field’s 11 candidates received a majority, which has set the stage for a runoff between Leppert and Oakley.
The Advocate story listed the facts of Oakley’s thumbnail bio: a resident of Dallas for 25 years; City Councilman representing District 3 since 2001; six years with the City Planning Commission and two years with a zoning committee. Said Jeff Phillips, a Dallas resident, "Oakley is an insider who really knows city policy."
Oakley has also stitched up the Dallas Police Association endorsement, and called for additional police on the streets and the demolition of apartment buildings in the city’s worst neighborhoods.
The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a national PAC supporting the election of GLBT officials, has also endorsed Oakley, spearheading a fundraising effort with a goal of $100,000 for his campaign. The Advocate story cited a figure of just over $71,000 as the sum so far raised on Oakley’s behalf. "[His] election has the capacity to change politics," Denis Dison, the Victory Fund’s Vice President for Communications said of Oakley’s run, adding, "And I think he will."
Oakley’s opposition, Leppert, has not issued any statements on LGBT issues, but he has been a supporter of Texas Representative Pete Sessions, an anti-gay politician. In 2004, Leppert contributed $2,000 to Session’s re-election campaign; Sessions won his re-election bid and in 2006 received a score of 0 out of 100 from The Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard.
Leppert himself declined to provide the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance with a completed endorsement questionnaire issued by the alliance, a prominent Dallas gay rights group.
The Oakley / Leppert faceoff has a character of continuing what the Advocate called a "wave of liberalism" in the city. The 2006 midterm elections saw Republican incumbents lose many of the 47 seats won by local Democrats; a UCLA School of Law think tank, the Williams Institute, has identified Dallas as home to the ninth-largest population of same-sex families in the U.S.; and Dallas is also home to The Cathedral of Hope, the largest gay church in the world at 3,500 congregants.
The election is scheduled for June 16.