Dallas politics is beginning to look dangerously like professional sports. No sooner had state primaries ended than the City Council season got off to a premature start, with the announcements by Annette Strauss and Betty Svoboda that they want to succeed Joe Haggar for North Dallas’ Place 3.

Already, the campaigns have been spiced with preseason retirements. Don Hicks has to quit, having served his allotted three terms in Place 1. Haggar and Rolan Tucker are retiring. Among Tucker’s potential successors are Starke Taylor and Doris Holden, a former candidate for Commissioner’s Court who has worked on many city boards and authorities.

There is talk of trades – will Wes Wise run for mayor, leaving his at-large Place 10 seat to someone like East Dallas’ Lee Simpson? Will Oak Lawn attorney David McAtee try for Simpson’s Place 5? Will McAtee run at large? At all?

There are rumblings of newcomers spoiling for the jobs of veterans -will Plan Commission Chairman John Evans battle Max Goldblatt? Will former North Dallas Chamber of Commerce chief Tom James gun for Mayor Jack Evans?

The mayor seems to be impregnable. After Tom James and some of his friends on the North Dallas chamber said they were less than ecstatic about the mayor’s leadership, the chamber’s executive board hastily noted that the chamber as a whole did not oppose Evans.

James later explained that his remarks had been blown out of proportion and that he had no plans to run for mayor. But some of his friends say he is thinking about running for something -maybe Wes Wise’s seat.

In Place 1, the most likely contender for Hicks’ job is Tricia Smith, a banker and respected member of the City Plan Commission.

Deputy Mayor Pro Tern Fred Blair, in Place 8, plans to run again, and win. He’s not bragging. Ditto for Ricar-do Medrano in Place 2.

Other strong council members are Goldblatt, Simpson, Elsie Faye Heggins in South Dallas’ Place 6 and Sid Stahl in at-large Place 9.

Heggins may have opposition, but she has tremendous name recognition and ample financing. Simpson says he is still thinking; Stahl probably will seek reelection. Goldblatt says he may quit if the voters approve his monorail referendum before the election, “or if it blows up in my face.”

The only “hot” race so far is for Haggar’s Place 3 seat. Both contestants are laying low, lest they peak too quickly. Annette Strauss has been a longtime cultural and philanthropic leader. Betty Svo-boda has a long record of nuts-and-bolts political work, especially with the North Dallas chamber.

So far, the campaign has been wholly underground, aimed at signing up prominent figures in the area. Svo-boda would appear to have an advantage because the district is heavily Republican and she has worked extensively with the GOP and the chamber. Realtor Ebby Halliday and Southwest Airlines Chairman Herb Kelleher have endorsed her.

But Strauss also has been collecting names, reportedly making some important inroads into the Republican Party establishment. Like Svoboda, she has been a member of the Dallas Park Board; she has worked with the United Way, the Central Business District Association and numerous arts groups.

Place 3 has a history of electing strong, successful businessmen to the council, and various groups reportedly are trying to find someone in that traditional mold who would be willing to run. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see four candidates there,” said one party leader.


Keep me up to date on the latest happenings and all that D Magazine has to offer.