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January 4, 2002 debate transcript, part 2

By KERA staff

Dallas, TX – Crockett: A survey by the Associated Press recently indicated that Dallas is more segregated than a lot of its suburbs. Why is that the case, Mr. Garcia?

Garcia: La raz?n que eso pasa es porque mucha gente no puede comunicarse con la cuidad. No se pueden comunicar con los consejales o los lideres. [The reason that that happens is that many people can't communicate with the city. They can't communicate with the council(men) or (city) leaders.] What I just said, many people still can't communicate with other people. I tell it to you in Spanish because the majority of the citizens of Dallas are now Hispanic. To a large extent, segregation occurs because of economic backgrounds. And unless we start breaking those barriers and we have a mayor who can unify the city and talk to all its citizens and bring all those neighborhoods that have been forgotten up into the mainstream. By the way, I think we ought to maintain the quality of services for our newer neighborhoods. But we ought to bring those neighborhoods that have been forgotten, like Pleasant Grove and Oak Cliff and south Dallas and west Dallas and old east Dallas, bring them up to grade. Bring everybody up and therefore we stop the segregation that we currently have and the continuing flight of middle-class families from Dallas.

Crockett: So you don't want to just live with segregation, you want to try to do something about it? Can the mayor do something about it?

Miller: I think a mayor leads by example. And a mayor that can unite the city and bring the diversity and bring some diversity - don't run away from it - is a mayor I think can start creating middle-class housing in Oak Cliff. When I was a council member, we built 52 new houses in west Dallas - first new housing in about 40 years. If we can do that all over the city, I think people will move into Dallas as opposed to moving out.

Crockett: Mr. Dunning.

Dunning: Well, first of all, Dallas does have different areas, whether it's Hispanic, African American, Asian; and I mean, this is the way it is in cities throughout the country. One of the great things about Dallas, though, is there is a lot of movement; it's not just in the suburbs. There are people of color living all over Dallas. And certainly I have always encouraged this. And I think one of the things that I think has to happen is, we really need to start looking to southern Dallas. This is where we have thousands of acres of land. This is where there is an opportunity to really start building new middle-class homes, and this is the demand I keep hearing from wherever I go in the southern sector - they tell me they don't want to move to the suburbs; they want to be able to move into new middle-class homes right close to where they have grown up.

Crockett: Miss Miller, 30 seconds.

Miller: You know, one of the exciting things about this race is that two of the three of us live in Oak Cliff.

Garcia: That's true.

Miller: And there hasn't been an Oak Cliff mayor since 1947, when Jimmy Temple, the president of the Oak Farms Dairy, was mayor of Dallas. And one of the challenges for anyone who is mayor on January 20th is the southern sector is a vibrant, growing, exciting part of the city. And we have to be good ambassadors for the southern sector.

Crockett: Okay, thanks very much. Just a note before we move on. The numbers to call if you have questions: 214-871-9010 1-800-933-5372. Because this is a special election with limited campaign time, the candidates have had to move at warp speed, including launching a barrage of television and radio ads.

Excerpt from Tom Dunning radio campaign ad: Dallas is 99 yards and two feet away.

Excerpt from Tom Dunning radio campaign ad: Hello, this is John Wiley Price. For over 30 years, I have trained for the Dallas team. For a Dallas to be the team and be all that it can be, we need TD, Tom Dunning.

Excerpt from Tom Dunning TV campaign ad: There is a clear choice in the candidates for Mayor - Tom Dunning, and an effective leader.

Excerpt from Tom Dunning TV campaign ad: Laura Miller. As a Council member she called the Mayor "petty and mean-spirited." She opposed a veterans' parade, saying, "I don't want to throw any more parties." A Morning News editorial said Laura Miller was so strident in her remarks, she brought tears to the eyes of several mothers of veterans.

Excerpt from Laura Miller TV campaign ad: It's the basics - the police car that keeps your neighborhood safe, the classroom where your child learns to read, a first-rate system of roads so our potholes aren't deeper than the Trinity.

Excerpt from Domingo Garcia radio campaign ad: Hello, my sisters and brothers. My name is Diane Ragsdale. Today I am asking you to support State Representative Domingo Garcia for the next mayor of Dallas. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, blacks and browns must establish a healthy relationship. Domingo Garcia is the only one we can trust. We must not return this position of mayor back to the control of the downtown Dallas business establishment.

Excerpt from Laura Miller TV campaign ad: We've done the big-ticket projects to attract corporations. Now it's time to take better care of the people who are already here.

Excerpt from Laura Miller radio campaign ad: Folks in our neighborhoods, she's one of us, an Oak Cliff girl who lives right in the southern sector.

Excerpt from Domingo Garcia radio campaign ad: Greetings, fellow citizens of Dallas. This is former Dallas City Councilman Don Hicks. Having served on city council with Domingo, I have personal knowledge that he is from the people and for the people. Domingo's private and public conduct and activities will not divide or drive wedges between the citizens of Dallas.

Excerpt from Tom Dunning TV campaign ad (Dunning speaking): Tom Dunning - un buen hombre que ceda un gran alcalde. [Tom Dunning - a good man who will be a great mayor.]

Baker: Listen, I understand. I mean, it's obvious why you would run a Spanish language ad - I mean, just to break down that language barrier. But I am curious why the need to target ethnic media in this way. I mean, TD for Big D. The use of funk music in some of the ads and even getting maybe African American representatives to speak for you. What is - aren't people of color, voters of color intelligent enough, Ms. Miller, to hear you articulate the issues and get the message?

Miller: Well, sure. But, you know, there is lots of media in this town, and it's not just Channel 8 or Channel 5, it's people all over the city. I mean, I've been doing interviews with "The White Rocker" and the "Park Cities People" who don't really have a dog in the hunt. So I just think you try to do something that's interesting and flavorful and that tries to speak to everybody.

Bake: Mr. Garcia?

Garcia: I think we're all Americans. And as Americans, we all have sort of the same hopes and aspirations that our children, our families will achieve the American dream. But within America, America is made up sort of a hodgepodge of different people from all over the world. We're all immigrants to this country. And they have different media that they listen to. They are folks who don't listen to English language radio that listen to Spanish language radio. In fact, the number one radio station is about to become a Spanish language radio station here in Dallas. And therefore you need to communicate with those voters, with those people. And that's why I see no problem having funk music, you know, on African American radio stations or having Latino music or Latino messages, or talking to folks like you at KERA and Channel 13. It's about talking to voters and telling them about our hopes and our aspirations and about unifying Dallas, bringing back the can-do spirit, and saying it in the way they want to listen to it.

Baker: Mr. Dunning.

Dunning: I think the question is good, because it shows how diverse Dallas is today. And you're trying to reach out to all of Dallas. And some friends of mine, some Hispanic friends of mine, are saying, "Well, now, this is the station everybody who grew up in Dallas who is Hispanic listens to. And this is the one that people who moved here from Mexico listen to. And this is the station that African Americans listen to. And this is the one that the younger African Americans listen to." So we're trying to reach - or I'm trying to reach - as many people in this city as I can, whether it's on television, radio -

Baker: But fine, but why do you have to go through John Wiley Price to do it, or why do you have to go through Diane Ragsdale to do it? Why not you?

Dunning: I don't have to go through anybody, but John's been a friend of mine for a long time. And John said, "I'd like to go on." He said, "I'd like to speak for you. People know me. They don't know you."

Baker: Is there a spot of you on ethnic radio speaking directly to listeners?

Dunning: No.

Baker: Why?

Dunning: Well, because - I mean, we may well do it, but the bottom line is you want to have a personality who is well-known, and so that people can relate in the community that we're trying to reach - that they can relate that person's success back to me, or back to Domingo, or back to Ms. Miller.

Crockett: One thing you've all talked about in your ads is education. Is this really a false issue, because the mayor doesn't have any authority to deal with the schools?

Miller: You know, it's the number one problem in Dallas, I believe, is that our school systems have lagged behind and that we have such a huge dropout rate. And I think that city hall can be a wonderful advocate for the school system. We have a great superintendent; we have a really strong school board now. We have this bond program on January 19th, and I believe it's going to pass because all of the major mayoral candidates are supporting the bond. And that message has been out there every single day for all the voters to hear. And that's just the way it has to happen at city hall. Every single week, the mayor of Dallas has to talk about what we can do as a city for the school system to improve it, because that's what people want.

Crockett: Okay, Mr. Garcia?

Garcia: It takes a city to educate a child. And the city needs to be there by having a couple of things. First, we need to have a safe start for all our children. That means they have to have schools that are safe from gangs and drugs and all the other things that make schools unsafe for teachers and students. The city can do that. Number two, we need to have a healthy start. The city is responsible for immunizations and making sure our clinics treat those kids so they don't go to school sick. And third, we need to have a fair start. We need to have daycare centers and good-paying jobs so that the families don't have to be holding two jobs down in order to put their children through school.

Crockett: So you put pressure on the board about these kinds of issues?

Garcia: I think we cooperate with our board. It takes not only the - it takes the city council working with the school board, our city manager working with the superintendent, and the mayor working with the president of the school board. It takes cooperation to build a better school system. It can't be done by them; it takes a city to educate a child.

Crockett: Well, Mr. Dunning, sometimes when it comes to the school board, a lot of people think you need a bigger hammer. Would you want to get tough with the board if you thought they got out of line?

Dunning: Well, first of all, back to your first question - the mayor, I think, plays a very, very important role in education. And I'm the only candidate who has actually been involved with public education. I chaired the last DISD bond program. I saved and restructured what is now known as the University Center in downtown Dallas where we have DISD, the community college and six state universities. I chaired the first University of North Texas at Dallas committee to help raise the funds so we could have a state university in southern Dallas. I think the mayor's role has to be one that he or she is encouraging businesses to adopt schools, encouraging people to get involved with schools. Ben E. Keith has done a very good job with the school down the street from them. Everybody has to get involved. Because if we don't educate 140,000 to 150,000 students, it's going to be a drag on this city. So I think it's the number one issue, and I think the mayor leads by being in that chair - whether it's working with the superintendent, the school board - we have to move this city forward.

Baker: We heard a clip of a new Dunning ad in the campaign montage that would sort of indicate that there is a gloves-off approach maybe from the Dunning campaign. Is this the direction we're going to see in all three campaigns over the next two weeks, Ms. Miller?

Miller: You know, one of the nicest things about the campaign was right before I announced, I saw Tom at a reception, and he and I discussed the fact that it was very important in a short time frame like this and because we're friends, that we would have a positive campaign; we would stick to the issues and we would not go negative and mud-sling. So I'm disappointed because Tom is my friend, and he'll be my friend after this campaign is over. And I find that the divisive ads, the mean-spirited ad that I just saw that started running today, is out of character for Tom. And I regret that he's going that direction. But we'll all get beyond this. I'm going to stay positive; I'm going to live up to my commitment to Tom to stick to issues. The next two weeks, I want to focus on basics and ethics at city hall.

Baker: So there will be no negative campaign, no negative ads, no negative press, no negative media of any type from your campaign in the next two weeks?

Miller: There will not. It will be on a positive message.

Dunning: Well, first of all - wait, wait. This is truly a contrast ad. And we have talked. And I said that Laura?s record, my record, my style, her style - I mean, that's what we're known for. And those have to be contrasted for the voters.

Baker: A contrast ad, though, making mothers of veterans cry?

Dunning: That's what was written.

Baker: That's a contrast ad? That's not a negative ad?

Dunning: It is a contrast ad for a very simply - because you have to look at style. This whole election is about leadership style. And we have talked about it. You can't attack people and then expect to build a coalition of your council members. Whether she was attacking the mayor, calling him petty and mean-spirited, or attacking people who appear in front of the city council calling them a liar, or calling names of other people or staff members - you just can't do it. And a person's style and a person's record, those are two areas that need to - that all voters need to be aware of.

Baker: Mr. Garcia.

Garcia: In a democracy, you know, a person's record is something that voters should know and should make decisions on. I think the records - all three of our records are fair game. We ought to compare those records in terms of who has done the most. As a mayor pro tem, four-year council member, three-term state legislator, I think I have the best experience and qualifications to serve as mayor of Dallas. My style is different from Laura Miller's or Tom Dunning's. And I think that when we contrast those records, that's a fair part of the political process.

Crockett: Marla?

Crockett: What about your own campaign ads here? I mean, you've thrown out some negative comments about Mr. Dunning, right?

Garcia: Well, the reality is again contrast and record. I believe the mayor of Dallas should unify the city. I could not even fathom being a member of a country club or any group that would exclude people because they are African American, Hispanic, Jewish or a woman. I believe the mayor leads by example and that that mayor talks about unifying people and bringing them together. Not only at city hall, but also out in the community, out when people are not looking at you; because that's what a mayor is supposed to do, is lead by example. And I think that's a fair contrast in terms of what my leadership style would be as opposed to Mr. Dunning, or for that matter, Ms. Miller.

Miller: You know, negative ads won't fill a single pothole in this city. They won't put one child in a decent classroom; they won't pay our police officers to keep our neighborhoods safe; and that's why I'm staying positive, and I'm focusing on the basics of this city and what we need to do to bring the city together, Dallas together, and move forward. And that's why I'm not going to do negative ads on either one of you.

Dunning: Well, these are contrast ads and we have discussed it; and I said contrast ads contrasting my record, anybody else's record, their style, my style is fair game, and it needs to be brought to the attention of all voters. And I plan on doing it, because I think it is important that voters really know who we are and what we stand for and how we'll act once we're in office.

Baker: Now on to questions. We need to move on. Now, on to questions for the candidates from our listeners. Again, the numbers to call: 214-871-9010, and 800-933-5372. But first, to one of the e-mails we received. The question goes: Recently a homeless man was living in our park. We have seen many homeless street people gathering across from Dallas City Hall and the library. What are your plans to reduce homelessness? Mr. Garcia?

Garcia: Well, in 1994, we had the World Cup come to Dallas; we got rid of all the homeless people in about six weeks. We put everybody in apartments; we made sure that everybody got counseling and social services because we thought it was important that we got people out from underneath the bridges before all the world media came here. If there is a will and people want to do it, we can. But what happened was, once the media left, the homeless problem just ceased to become a priority at city hall. I think issues like that - those forgotten people, those people that live under bridges that have broken lives - need to be addressed through an extensive part of social services - city working with our county government - to make sure those people are put into adequate housing and receive the care for either drug, alcohol or mental problems that they may have.

Baker: Miss Miller?

Miller: You know, when you go into the downtown public library, you see homeless people in the lobbies, out in front of the building, you see them in the bathrooms. If you bring the children down to the library, they go in and there might be someone taking a shower in the sink. You know, these are the kinds of things that we have to resolve. And I think the way to do it is to get a place that is just as warm and just as inviting for those people in the downtown area where they can go during the day so they're not in the downtown library. A lot of the homeless shelters close during the day and they only open in the evening and at night. And I think Dallas city hall has to be the one to lead the charge to remedy that problem and find a safe harbor for people downtown to get them off the street, off people's front business steps, out of the library.

[Because of space limitations, this transcript is continued in another article. Please click on "January 4, 2002 debate transcript, part 3" under "Related Stories" on this page to continue.]