To shoot this month’s cover, our staff photographer, Elizabeth Lavin, had about 20 minutes with Mayor Mike Rawlings in her studio. In that short window, we wanted to get two shots: the serious one you can see on the cover and something a bit lighter. We hit on the idea of having the mayor pose holding a cardboard box stuffed with random items that he would theoretically carry out of City Hall on his last day at work. Get the joke? The mayor didn’t.
Having assembled the random items myself by looting my co-workers’ desks, I presented the idea to Rawlings in the studio. I got a hard no. “It’s not funny,” he said. “I would never carry a box of stuff like that out of City Hall.” “But Mayor,” I protested, “that’s exactly why it’s funny!” Nope.
Then he spotted in the box the vintage tiki tumbler that you see him holding above. “Now that’s funny,” he said. “Because I am going to do some drinking when I’m done with this job.” In two minutes we had the shot. To my mind, it’s a portrait of a man who has put in eight tough years of service and is about to enjoy some much-deserved downtime. And some rum. I liked it so much that I thought it should be the cover image, with the headline “He’s Outta Here!” Boy, was I misguided.
We have a reader advisory board, about 30 smart, loyal D Magazine subscribers who join us at the office periodically to tell us what twits we are. I showed them mock-ups of the two Rawlings covers, and they unanimously picked the serious one. Of the silly tiki cover they said, “It looks like you’re making fun of him. Like you’re saying, ‘Get out of here, jerk.’ ” Even the folks in the room who didn’t support Rawlings thought the tone was all wrong. I explained our intention: “It’s a celebration of his two terms!” The readers countered: “Why do you even have a job? You’re not good at it.”
Perhaps. But here is one thing I know: in 2015, Dallas had the worst voter turnout of any major American city for a mayoral election. Only 6 percent of registered voters gave a damn. It’s not a stretch to say this could be the most important election in Dallas in a generation. If you don’t understand why, please educate yourself about the issues at hand. Attend a mayoral debate, and get a handle on what the nine candidates stand for. Then make your voice heard on May 4.
Today we put online the Rawlings feature, photos and all, wherein D Magazine owner Wick Allison grills the mayor on the defining moments of his tenure and on what the next person will take on. Read it here.