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Dallas Mayor Finalists Debate Live On TV And Radio

By Bill Zeeble, KERA reporter

Dallas, TX – Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 reporter: Dallas's storied Deep Ellum, once THE spot for top musical acts, is in transition. Many clubs that once drew large crowds - and crime - have closed. The crime's improved some. Thru it all, a core of artists, , musicians and others like lawyers & editors still live here, dedicated to the neighborhood. They vote. But in this election, this particular debate watch group is still undecided. They like new construction & some resurfaced roads that they've seen around town. But Gianna Madrini, president of the Deep Ellum association, says such improvements haven't quite reached Deep Ellum.

Gianna Madrini, president of the Deep Ellum association: Deep Ellum has been neglected far too long & infrastructure is crumbling. We need to attract entrepreneurs and we can't do that when the neighborhood looks in a state of neglect.

Zeeble: Madrini and others say campaign topics like crime, economic development, even the environment, impact Deep Ellum. So the watch group paid attention when the candidates talked about reducing the city's ongoing high crime rate.

Ed Oakley - we've set money aside for as many new officers as Dallas field in a year
Tom Leppert - We don't need to raise taxes, as my opponent wants to do.

Zeeble: Deep Ellum voters Like Chad Armstrong, with the Deep Ellum Enrichment Project, agreed with both Tom Leppert that taxes aren't necessary to reduce crime.

Chad Armstrong, Deep Ellum enrichment Project: In our neighborhood we have plenty of police but the problem is you see 10 at a time bunched up on a corner, and they're just not managed and their resources aren't applied as well as could be.

Zeeble: Still, neither Armstrong nor Deep Ellum Enrichment Project co-worker Scott Clemens, would actually oppose new crime- fighting taxes.

Scott Clemens, Deep Ellum Enrichment Project. I wouldn't have a problem paying more taxes if we were going to get the services.

Zeeble: What Clemens and others - including graphic artist Henry Miner - wanted, were more details.

Henry Miner, graphic artist - They were very general on each subject. Nobody said I'm going to do this and then I'm going to take these necessary actions to make this happen I think they all were they generalized everything they said.

Zeeble: Tom Leppert and Ed Oakley both said they would stress education if elected mayor. That disappointed this Deep Ellum group, all of whom wondered who could be against education? And resident Cliff Welch was repelled by Leppert's appeal to make this the nation's best city.

Tom Leppert: I think this can be the finest city in America...

Cliff Welch: Six references to be the finest city of America scares me.

Zeeble: Cliff Welch lives in Deep Ellum.

Welch: 'Cause Dallas is always about let's be the biggest. Let's do huge things. Trinity bridges ' 306/46 It's not about small property owners, it's not about the ones of us who live here. Its about huge grand ideas to be the finest city of America. We should just work on fixing some of our problems we have here.

Zeeble: The 7 other Deep Ellum residents echoed Welch's sentiments. They were unimpressed by both candidates. But they'll make up their minds by election day June 16th, because they all say they'll definitely vote. For KERA 90.1 I'm Bill Zeeble