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"The Mayoral Race:" A Commentary

By Steven Whitley, KERA 90.1 Commentator

Dallas, TX – Saturday, Dallas voters will choose a new mayor. The major candidates - Laura Miller, Domingo Garcia, and Tom Dunning - are furiously heading into the stretch, putting in 15-hour days campaigning to bring their respective visions to the city of Dallas.

I have some observations about the race, the candidates, and their campaigns. I am going to attempt to keep this commentary unbiased, because my choice for mayor is unimportant. And whom you vote for really comes down to what is important to you. If you've had an axle fall off your car because of a pothole on Ross Avenue that was about three feet deep, and admire strong, forceful, no-holds-barred women whose language has been known to make grown men blush, then you will vote for Laura Miller. If you've had an axle fall off your car and you want to vote for a "can-do" mayor, then vote for Domingo Garcia. If you've had an axle fall off your car on Ross Avenue and you're a member of a restricted country club the previous mayor refused to attend events at, then you'll vote for Tom Dunning.

Sometimes getting a politician to answer a question is like herding cats. One only has to watch the Sunday news programs to see that in action. For the most part, these candidates have been very clear about what their visions for Dallas are. I wish I could give all the major candidates credit for not going negative on each other, but two of them have, and against a lady, which my Daddy always told me to treat with respect even if there are those who would argue the lady part with you. But hey, this is politics!

Tom Dunning recently announced the "second launch of the Dunning Campaign," which makes me wonder what happened to the first launch? If you can't get people excited about a campaign once, chances are the second time around isn't going to be anything to write home about. Take note, Al Gore.

Domingo Garcia wants to appoint a 50-member commission to oversee Dallas Public Schools. Just what the Dallas Public Schools need - more bureaucracy. Laura Miller has tried to soften her image, but I believe most people know she's tough, opinionated, and foul-mouthed, so why not inhabit that space?

The best sound bite by a campaign was from Rob Allyn, Miller's campaign adviser. In response to the Dunning-Friendly Dallas Morning News pushing their official poll back to this week, Allyn said, "I think we have a poll that week - it's called an election." Best title of an article about the election: "A Hole in Every Pot" from the Dallas Observer. Best campaign promise destined to be broken goes to Laura Miller's promise not to go after Police Chief Terrell Bolton and City Manager Ted Benevides if she's elected. Let's just put it this way; if I were them, I'd start calling headhunters.

Best comeback line: Tom Dunning's "I won't be out-potholed." Best attempt to provide payback before an election goes to Tom Dunning's idea for increasing real-estate development around DART stations, as if lack of real-estate development has ever been a problem in this city. Best un-candidate: Domingo Garcia. Worst use of economic principles goes to Domingo Garcia's promise not to raise taxes to pay for a billion-dollar bond proposal.
And the best reason to vote in this election, the knowledge that in May 2003 we get to do it all over again.


Steven Whitley is a writer in Dallas.