Early voting begins April 29 for the upcoming elections in Dallas County, taking place on May 11. The election includes contests for Dallas City Council, ISD and Dallas County School Board. But the most visible contests are city council, where four council members are leaving: Pauline Medrano, Angela Hunt, Linda Koop and Ann Margolin.
The talkers include District 1 North Oak Cliff, where candidates Delia Jasso and Scott Griggs are two perfectly good incumbents now forced to run against each other after stupid redistricting, and District 3 Pleasant Grove, where three candidates — Michael Connally, Claudia Meyer and Kermit Mitchell — are running against incumbent Vonciel Jones Hill.
Meyer is a popular 70-year-old retiree who's been involved in protesting gas drilling. You may recall that Hill went off on a religious bender at a February meeting, comparing Dallas city manager Mary Suhm to Jesus Christ.
District 14, covering Uptown, East Dallas and Lakewood, has the briskest action. Seven candidates are vying for the seat vacated by outgoing Angela Hunt: Bobby Abtahi, David Blewett, Kevin Curley, Philip Kingston, Chuck Kobdish, July Liimatainen and Jim Rogers. Nearly all have long histories of community involvement.
The candidates have dutifully trooped through five public forums, organized by neighborhood associations to give the candidates an opportunity to establish their identities.
A forum on April 22 at Lee Park, hosted by Uptown Dallas, State-Thomas Area Residents and the Lee Park Conservancy, showed how the seven candidates had settled on a kind of rhythm.
Moderated by lawyer Beth Ann Blackwood, the forum drew a near-capacity crowd of about 120. Candidates stayed on course thanks to a timer that rang when their designated answer time was up (with the exception of Abtahi, who playfully exceeded the allotted time more than once).
In a nutshell:
- Abtahi emphasized his profession as a lawyer and his list of endorsements.
- Blewitt accentuated his family with six kids and his longtime residence in the district.
- Curley stressed his youthfulness and technological savvy.
- Kingston underscored his participation in neighborhood associations and activism in improving Greenville Avenue.
- Kobdish championed his everyman stance and his attentiveness to the concerns of the small businessman.
- Liimatainen recounted her lifelong record of volunteering and the conciliatory advantages of her gender.
- Rogers spotlighted his ability to win over opponents and diverse kinds of people and the fact that he'd be on the job full-time.
Topics included the noise situation at the Katy Trail Ice House and what city codes needed rethinking. Blackwood asked the candidates how they'd work with the other council members to get the eight votes that are required for any initiative. Their answers, please:
- Abtahi: "I'm willing to do the hard work."
- Blewitt: "With six kids, I count to eight every day."
- Curley: "I'm not a lawyer. I'd bring a change of culture."
- Kingston: "I'm 20-0 in getting codes enforced."
- Kobdish: "I solve problems in my job every day."
- Liimatainen: "I know how to deal with people; I know how to listen."
- Rogers: "I won't get eight votes; I'll get all 15."
Early voting runs from April 29 through May 7. Find a list of locations here.