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Politics & Government

A Dallas City Council Race Gets Partisan and Personal

A new report looks at how one runoff has split the Jewish community in North Dallas.

If you’re a Dallas voter, you’ll want to read this Jewish Insider story about the two candidates in a runoff to represent the North Dallas neighborhoods of District 11. If you don’t live in Dallas or don’t vote, you might want to read it anyway. It’s a good story.

Jaynie Schultz and Barry Wernick are contending to replace a term-limited Lee Kleinman on the City Council. The contest in District 11 is, like the runoffs in Districts 2 and 13 we wrote about last week, getting messy. Like other races in the Dallas City Council elections we wrote about last month, it’s in part being unfairly defined by a debate over police funding. Wernick has staked out a partisan stance firmly to the right here, but both candidates support funding Dallas police along the lines of whatever the department wants. It is correct that Kleinman, who has supported reining in police spending, has endorsed Schultz. And the Dallas Police Association has endorsed Wernick.

What makes this particular race especially interesting and especially contentious is the candidates’ shared personal histories in the Jewish community of North Dallas, where Schultz and Wernick attend the same Orthodox synagogue. Here’s Jewish Insider:

While the race is exceedingly local, it demonstrates how some of the national political dynamics that have flared in the past year can trickle down to elections at other levels. Misinformation about both campaigns has been spread by surrogates, supporters and dark money groups; a conservative is trying to paint his more liberal opponent as anti-police; and partisanship has erupted in a surprisingly fierce way.

But because both candidates are members of the tight-knit Dallas Jewish community, the campaign feels more personal than most. One local rabbi called the race a “touchy subject in our community,” and told Jewish Insider that he was “taking a hard pass on talking to the media about it.”

Read the story from Jewish Insider here.

One other detail from that story I wanted to highlight, because it’s kind of funny. Wernick makes his living as an attorney, but has a background in film. He produced and co-wrote a 2012 movie, Bad Kids Go To Hell, a kind of horror-comedy takeoff on The Breakfast Club. (D Magazine wrote about it at the time.) And he’s got a few acting credits to his name, per Jewish Insider:

He filmed some commercials in New York, and for two-and-a-half seasons he served as a stand-in for the Mr. Big character on Sex and the City. “It’s an actor who’s actually on the crew side,” Wernick explained. “You are blocking each scene for the actual actor who comes in later to shoot the scene because they need to get the lighting right. They want to see where their cameras are moving.”