The Culture Quotient

EVERY CANDIDATE FOR CITY COUNCIL IS FOR POTHOLE REPAIR AND AGAINST CRIME. BUT OPINIONS ARE EASY TO COME BY; WISDOM IS NOT. THAT’S WHY WE ASKED THESE QUESTIONS - TO FIND OUT WHAT OUR WOULD - BE LEADERS REALLY KNOW.

It’s not what he doesn’t know that scares me,” said the candidate about a rival. “It’s all the things he’s sore of that just aren’t true.”

’ That political insult goes right to the heart of a vital question: what do our leaders know, and how do they know it? In the last presidential election, one candidate blasted the other for picking up his ideas in a “Harvard boutique,” and a vice presidential hopeful was derided for not having any ideas at all. Unfair? Maybe, maybe not. It may well be that some people are too shallow-and others too deep-to hold public office.

Thankfully, Texas is moving away from the old frontier belief that familiarity with the arts, books, and ideas branded a candidate as a fuzzy-minded egghead. We’re now starting to accept politicians as multidimensional creatures whose knowledge of the world need not begin and end with zoning and pothole repair.

That’s why we decided to look into our leaders’ mental living rooms and see how they’re furnished. To find out, we sent each announced council candidate a questionnaire in February. We wanted to know who had influenced their lives, and how. What they read, and which cultural events attract them. Almost every candidate replied, and most of the answers were thoughtful and heartfelt. They give us a glimpse of the cultural forces behind the men and women who would lead Dallas.

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