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“Citizen” Rawlings Makes Endorsements In DISD Races

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

Mike Rawlings is endorsing three candidates for Dallas School Board. As a “citizen," he says, not as mayor. KERA’s BJ Austin says one political analyst believes the mayor is stretching the city’s ethics code.

EducateDallas, a newly-formed political action committee, made the announcement that “Mr.” Rawlings would endorse the candidates supported by the group. The include Elizabeth Jones, Dan Micciche, and Bernadette Nutall. The Dallas ethics code prohibits elected officials from making political endorsements. Mayor Rawlings told the crowd his decision to publically support the school board candidates was both easy and difficult.

Rawlings: It was easy because as a citizen, I knew what the right thing to do was to speak my piece about leadership in Dallas. And it was a difficult decision because a lot of people said no, no, no. You’re playing in an area you shouldn’t play in.

UNT political scientist Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha says that may be right. He says the public is not going to make a distinction between Mr. Rawlings and Mayor Rawlings.

Eshbaugh-Soha: Most people are going to look and perceive the endorsement, despite his effort to separate his professional and personal endorsement as an endorsement from a mayor. So, I think he really is stretching, perhaps abiding by the letter of the ethics provision, but certainly violating the spirit of it.

Eshbaugh-Soha says it could backfire if citizens believe there’s something unethical about the endorsements.

Mayor Rawlings says he’s doing what’s right for the city and its ethics code.

Rawlings: As Mayor, I’m not leveraging what the city attorneys have said I can’t use. I’m not using city services. I’m here tonight, drove myself. I’m a citizen of Dallas.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.