SRO IN THE MAYORAL CONTEST

Depending upon whom you talk to, next spring’s mayoral battle to replace the retiring Robert Folsom could turn out to be quite a doozy. Nobody’s talking on the record, but privately, at least six prominent names have cropped up as potential candidates: County Judge (and former council member) Garry Weber, former mayor Wes Wise, Regional EPA Director (and former council member) Adlene Harrison, City Councilman Sid Stahl, former councilman Willie Cothrum, and as the yet-unnamed establishment candidate, probably Councilman Joe Haggar. Phew. The way things are going, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if Chip Moody chucked his six-figure contract at Channel 4 and decided to jump into the running.

Most observers agree lack of money, time, interest, guts, or all four, will trim the field down between now and next April. Weber, who has lusted after mayoralty ever since losing to Folsom in 1976, still has unfinished business to clean up at the courthouse and will probably stick with that; Wise may find himself financially unable to make the run; Hag-gar is said to be more than a little reluctant to carry the establishment standard, and Cothrum will probably realize he doesn’t have enough name recognition to be a legitimate city-wide candidate.

That leaves Stahl and the irrepressible Ms. Harrison. Stahl, for his part, has been sounding an awful lot like a candidate throughout the tax revaluation brouhaha, in the words of one council observer, “hot-dogging the issue to death.” Most observers agree he has the money and the ambition, but may lack to the moxie to make a legitimate run. Ms. Harrison, according to insiders, renewed her longstanding interest in the mayor’s post in the expectation that Ronald Reagan will be elected this fall, in which case the liberal Democrat would very quickly be out of a job. Though she has kept a low profile, more than one pol was interested to see the former councilwoman turn up in the council campaigns of Lee Simpson and Ricardo Medrano last winter. As always, Ms. Harrison would have a name recognition edge on just about any challenger, and could probably use her particular brand of urban populism to good advantage with an anti-tax minded voting public.

Whatever the field turns out to be, most pundits agree the business community is likely to take a beating next spring. Whoever the establishment candidate turns out to be, he will be forced to answer for the council’s botching of the property tax revaluation program and assorted other sins committed during the Folsom era. Indeed, some observers feel that any establishment-connected council member may be in trouble come April. Said one observer: “This tax business isn’t going to die easy. It got North Dallas mad, and that means the establishment could be in trouble.”

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