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DISTRICTS 2,7,9: A CLOSER LOOK

By Angela Enright |

We can’t promise you that this year’s City Council election, set for April 6, will be as interesting or as controversial as last year’s special election. Remember? That was when City Council members Elsie Faye Heggins and Fred Blair resigned their posts to run for Dallas County commissioner seats. Voters from their districts ushered in Councilwom-an Diane Ragsdale and Councilman Al Lipscomb, who are now the two most flamboyant members on the Council.

What we can promise this time is a look at three district races that, for the most part, include strong candidates who represent homeowners’ interests rather than developers’ views. If any of them win their races, it could have a noticeable impact on how the Council votes on future zoning and policy planning issues.

Candidates running for the District 2 seat face incumbent Paul Fielding. Fielding has been criticized by minority constituents, who say he has been insensitive to problems in West Dallas, and by Oak Lawn homeowners, who say he hasn’t been helpful enough in protecting their neighborhoods from commercial development.

Fielding’s biggest threat is neighborhood activist Lori Palmer, director of the North Dallas Food Bank. Palmer, along with other potential candidates, spoke before members of the Dallas Homeowners League (DHL) in January and has received their endorsement. Palmer’s experience includes two years as a VISTA volunteer in West Dallas and three years as a management consultant. She helped lead the Love Field Citizens Action Committee, which caused the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reduce noise levels at Love Field. More recently, as a member of the Oak Lawn Forum, she helped convince the City Council to pass the Oak Lawn Plan, which establishes protective guidelines for development of the area.

Other District 2 candidates are Joe May, a past chairman of the Community Development Advisory Board, and Bill Nelson, president of the Dallas Gay Alliance.

Councilman Max Goldblatt is stepping down after three terms as the District 7 representative for southeast and far east Dallas. His stubbornness, candor and wit will be hard to match.

The candidate who may have the best chance to replace Goldblatt is former Dallas County Commissioner Jim Tyson. Tyson boasts that with his 20 years of political experience, he knows more about running a government than anybody on or now running for City Council. He says he won’t cater to “those big North Dallas developers.” Tyson has also received the DHL endorsement.

John Evans, Tyson’s closest competitor, resigned as chairman of the City Plan Commission to run for the District 7 seat. Although he is well-versed on the city’s planning and zoning issues, a DHL report indicates that he has a poor voting record on homeowner issues, since he wasn’t in favor of ending cumulative zoning and was in favor of Southland Corp.’s Cityplace development. A prominent business leader says that Evans is getting support from members of the business community, conservatives and some area churches.

In the at-large District 9 race, incumbent Jerry Rucker faces one opponent, former Plan Commission member James Garner. Rucker netted $75,000 from the business community at a campaign fund-raiser in November. Rucker has a broad base of experience as a member of several important boards and commissions.

Despite Rucker’s experience, Garner received the endorsement of the DHL for being particularly sensitive to homeowner issues as a member of the Plan Commission. He is in the insurance business and is president of the Country Forest/Jackson Meadow Homeowner Association.

The DHL has also endorsed incumbent and (at press time) unopposed candidates Craig Holcomb, Annette Strauss and Diane Ragsdale.