Dallas City Council District 13 Election Preview: Big-Name Race With (Staubach) Gates vs. Burk

Leland Burk and Jennifer Staubach Gates  are still hunting for votes.  Photos by Suzanna Rubottom and  Lindsay Reynolds
Leland Burk and Jennifer Staubach Gates are still hunting for votes. Photos by Suzanna Rubottom and Lindsay Reynolds

There are four candidates on the ballot for Dallas City Council District 13, but everyone knows that this is really a two-horse race.

Either real estate/oil and gas investor Leland Burk or registered nurse Jennifer Staubach Gates will win on Saturday. The other candidates are Jacob King, a senior at Bishop Lynch High School who’s been old enough to vote for less than a year, and Richard Sheridan, who’s best known for being physically removed from public meetings after exceeding the time limit for speaking.

So what issues separate Burk and Gates in the contest to represent a district that includes the wealthiest portions of North Dallas?



Her pitch: “I’ve managed budgets. I’ve gotten good return on investments. I’ve also been accountable to donors. I’m going to be accountable to taxpayers as a fiscal conservative.”

Money raised: More than $400,000

Endorsements: Former Mayor Tom Leppert; Micki Rawlings, the wife of Dallas’ current mayor; the Dallas Police Association; and two of Preston Hollow’s representatives in the Legislature, Sen. John Carona and Rep. Jason Villalba

Campaign tactics: The biggest name in the District 13 campaign actually belongs to Gates’ father, Roger Staubach. Although the legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback says he didn’t want his daughter to enter politics, there’s no doubt his fame is a key part of her strategy. Anyone who’s seen her signs can’t help but notice her middle/maiden name; it’s in a different font than “Jennifer” and “Gates.” And the slideshow on Gates’ website begins with a picture of her and her dad.

The job of a council member: “It’s bringing people together to get things done. I’ve been leading people and bringing people together as a consensus builder my whole life.”



His pitch: “I’m passionate about business. Dallas is a big business. And I believe I’m best suited to represent our district on the City Council.”

Money raised: About $160,000

Endorsements: Ann Margolin, who is vacating the District 13 seat for personal reasons; Margolin’s predecessor on the council, Mitchell Rasansky; as well as former Mayor Laura Miller and her husband, former state Rep. Steve Wolens.

Campaign tactics: Burk’s campaign produced a 30-second commercial that features signs bearing the words “Leland Financial Expert Burk” and “Leland Entrepreneur Burk.” The ad’s underlying message is that all Gates has going for her is her father’s name. Some of his other allusions to the “Staubach” name have been lighthearted. For example, Burk’s campaign produced a flier that says he “also has a famous sports connection.” It shows Burk playing baseball as a boy at the Town North YMCA.

The job of a council member:  “We have a $2.5 billion business at the City of Dallas. We need proven financial experts on the City Council.”



In our pre-election survey, as of last night, 56% of participants said Jennifer Staubach Gates is unfairly benefiting from her father’s famous name.


  • Yvonne Crum

    This is one of the things that is so annoying about politics .. if she didn’t use her maiden name.. they would call her stupid.. now the reason she is interested in helping our community is the example that her FATHER set for her… in other ways… she decided she could help thru city office… .I say kudos to Jennifer Staubach Gates and am voting for her and hope she wins… if she does it’s because she’s run a good campaign, qualified and wants the job… good luck Jennifer.

  • Bushwood Smithie

    Normally I don’t give a flip about endorsements, but that list of folks endorsing Gates is down right scary. I’m surprised she didn’t add John Wiley Price and the Boston Strangler to the list.

  • I’m for Burk

    I’m for Burk. Three reasons. One, he’s the one with real business experience. With all the crap that goes on down at city hall, I want a hard-nosed businessman protecting my tax dollars. I was offended by Gates mailer that she had the ‘business experience we need’. Load of crap. They will eat her alive down at City Hall. I was offend by her brochure that say she has the ‘business experience we need’. Load of crap. Daddy got her all her board positions and she does not have one day of real business experience. Two, Ann Margolin and Mitchell Rasansky are supporting Leland. That should tell you plenty. Everyone loves the job Ann did, not everyone ended up loving Rasansky, but they both know budgets and business. Three, really offended by her signs and playing off her maiden name. Sure, smart move politically, but turns me off entirely.

  • Cassandra

    It is obvious to my 14 year old son Jennifer is running on her fathers name. Her list of donors reads like a list of developers and individuals that will be expecting favors in return.

    • Dubious Brother

      If Jennifer were Roger’s son instead of daughter would you expect him to not use his father’s name if he ran for office?
      Quick quz for you and your 14 year old son: What is Chelsea Clinton’s married name? Hint: it is not Lewinski.

  • Roger

    Dan – which PR firms are running the Gates / Burk campaigns?

    • Jack Bblaze

      Best question.
      In reply to Crum. Who are the people that would have thought Jennifer STAUBACH Gates was stupid for not CAPITALIZING on Daddy’s right wing name?

    • Dan Koller

      I have dealt with Mary Woodlief of Allyn Media for the Gates campaign, as well as campaign manager Linda Rogers and Jennifer Staubach Gates herself. On the Burk side, I have dealt with campaign manager C.P. Henry.

  • wbev

    Jennifer Staubach Gates has run a positive campaign that has focused on her experience. She is smart, well-spoken and very grounded in the community. It seems as though many of the people who speak out on this blog have not seen these two at debates because the majority of people come away from these events supporting Jennifer.

    • Bobtex

      I attended more than half of the debates, and you are wrong that a majority of people came away from these events supporting Jennifer Gates. You must have been sitting in the Staubach Family cheering section, or you would know that, while most people think that she is a nice, well-intentioned lady, most of them think that she is just out of her league when it comes to difficult city issues, particularly budget and financial issues. While that may also be true of a number of other current city council members, the folks in District 13 have been blessed with smart, savvy representatives in recent years, and they will vote to continue that tradition by electing Leland Burk.

  • Fortunate to have this dilemma

    The endorsement of Leland Burk, by our current council representative Ann Margolin, weighs very heavily with me. The fact that Leland Burk has “put it out there publicly” that he opposes gas drilling in urban neighborhoods weighs very heavily with me. I don’t know Mrs. Gates; I only know her from reading her bio. Based on what little I know about both candidates, I think we are really FORTUNATE, in District 13, to have such a dilemma of which of these intelligent individuals to vote for. *As a side note: With all due respect to the fine writers at D Magazine, as a voter, I really resent it when publications are outright dismissive of candidates. Jacob King and Richard Sheridan have thrown their hats into the ring. They deserve respect for doing something that most of us passionate citizens don’t have the courage to do. Again, with all due respect to the fine journalists here; that is a rhetorical comment about many publications that do this. I respect Mrs. Gates for her courage to run. What I don’t respect is when politicians trot Roger Staubach out, like a fine show pony, to make a celebrity endorsement of a voting matter, such as the Trinity Referendum and or the Taxpayer-Owned Hotel Referendum. That was a cheap shot taken by our leaders back then and I didn’t like it.

  • linda

    What would it Jennifer would run just using the last name as Gates only. She sould stand on her own not on her fathers name Linda

  • jason

    We are 100% Burk supporters. Burk has the solid business and financial qualifications needed for city hall. Some of the actions used by the Gates campaign were down right bigoted in nature – especially the anti gay rhetoric. Plus, the Gates campaign targeted our street to anyone with a Burk sign and left a handwritten note that read: “If integrity matters then vote for JSG.” A big turnoff for household and several of our neighbors.