BD holds his nose while voting for mayor - film at 11

In less than three days, early voting polls will open in Dallas. Thanks to a large field of candidates, and a small number of voters, we now have to deal with a run-off for Mayor.

Less than 75,000 people voted for mayor in the general election. If past experience holds true, less than 15,000 people will vote in the run-off.

In this corner, City Council member Ed Oakley, long on experience and deep in cash and grassroots efforts. He's an insider in every sense of the word, and he knows everyone in Dallas (just ask him).

In that corner, former Turner Industries CEO and Park Cities resident Tom Leppert, short on political experience and deep in the Citizen's Council that created his new myth. He is a Beth Ann Blackwood without the skirt.

In Dallas, an informed electorate has always been considered a dangerous electorate. BD prides himself on being familiar with the issues and the candidates. He knows too much about traffic, zoning and how the City Council really works (read: behind the scenes) to run for office himself.

But in this election, BD finds himself absolutely screwed out of making a good decision.

Both Leppert and Oakley represent the worse possible candidates to lead a city of nearly 1.5 million people, if you call being a figurehead member of the City Council a leadership position.

But no matter how many times we wake up from our own version of Groundhog Day, it's impossible to shake the feeling that no matter whom is elected, it's gonna be really bad for someone, or a group of someones.

In the end, it's not a vote for Mayor. It's a vote for which person will cause the least amount of damage to our city and neighborhoods over the next four years.

Both candidates really do stink in their own way, along with the people backing them.

The only question BD has now is really simple - Are you allowed to wear a gas mask in the polling booth?

BD was vacillating all week on whom to vote for. It was Leppert on Monday, Oakely on Tuesday, Leppert on Wednesday, and on and on (weekends were kept neutral).

He read all the websites, looked at all the campaign literature filling the mailbox, and listened to neighbors and friends give their opinions.

I am not saying that Tom Leppert is evil through and through. If you count Ron Kirk as your best friend, that's just bad judgement. Turner Construction (for which he served as CEO) made a bunch of mistakes - toxic dirt, kickbacks and faulty construction come to mind. But in my mind, as the head of the company, he could not know about every single detail in the food chain (just ask any big-company boss). But he paid the fines, fired the right people and instituted changes. Yes, it is simplistic thinking, but it's the best I can do right now.

I am not apologizing for Leppert. I know that as soon as he takes office, you can kiss any hope of saving Lower Greenville or other stressed-out neighborhoods like Bachman Lake from the businesses that have slowly destroyed them for years. Kiss Code Compliance buh-bye too, cuz it will never write another citation against a business owner no matter how bad the stink.

Ed Oakley is the ultimate insider, and according to the Dallas Observer's Jim Schutze, he has been using his inside knowledge of the Trinity River project to acquire what will become very valuable pieces of land. I don't care if he disclosed his landholdings on a financial statement - the least he could have done was to abstain from any discussion or vote on any issue (read: Trinity River project) within five miles of his property. Mitchell Rasansky can even show him the proper forms to fill out.

Ed Oakley in the Mayor's chair would be a slow disaster. Instead of focusing on code and neighborhoods, his scorched earth policy of fighting crime by bulldozing apartments will send crime enforcement in this town back about ten years. He may get the big picture, but he will have no stomach for the details.

BD finally made his decision. It was not a matter of deciding which was the better candidate. In the end, the tipping point was a matter of mud - which campaign went negative first, and how bad it was.

Last week, Oakley ganged up with Council Member Bill Blaydes in trying to screw an East Dallas business owner out of his own property just so his friends - the developers - could take it over (see Playing Land Grab-Ass, Dallas Observer). It took the efforts of (the good version of) Laura Miller and Mitchell Rasansky to put this garbage out to the trashcan. Even Oakley tucked his tail up his ass and voted against the land grab he so wanted Blaydes to get.

In the end, Ed Oakley tagged team with Blaydes and came through with flying colors, mostly shades of brown. And then he reached lower than many of us political geeks expected him to go.

Oakley's campaign put up a new anti-Leppert website - TruthAboutTom.com - that preached all over the bad stuff noted above. Typical negative campaigning on a local level.

But two things got BD mad about this lowball.

Oakley denied any knowledge of the details about the website or the television commercial tied to it. In a News8 interview with Chris Heinbaugh (Gloves come off in Dallas mayoral race), Oakley tried to pass the commercial off as not that big a deal...

Oakley was asked whether his commercial hits below the belt. "You know what? I didn't put the ad together, and... I don't know, Chris," Oakley said. "That's an issue... it's one of... I don't know."

The last time Dallas saw that kind of plausible deniability in Dallas was when John F. Kennedy got shot.

If you think it's an accident that the video image of Tom Leppert kept focusing on his facial tic, we have a butt-floss bridge over the Trinity River to sell you. It was a disgusting portrayal of an image focusing on an issue that only 5% of the population even understands, which means the other 95% are left wondering just what the heck Tom's problem really is.

Debate night update: During the News8 debate webcast, Oakley did it again. In response to a question about drug issues around a high school, he noted that this kind of problem needed a full response from all City departments (DPD, code enforcement, etc).

But he stuck his foot in his mouth when he referenced an area near Fair Park that was a known drug dealing area. This is not a quote, but he referenced a car wash as being a known place where drugs were sold on a regular basis and the City came down hard on this business.

Funny thing, it's just not true. If you have been following Jim Schutze's series of articles about Jim Davenport's car wash, you already know the City came down hard on Mr. Davenport while ignoring drug deal locations not far away and even against direct orders from City Hall. Read Cheese Holes at this link.

If Oakley had a heart, he would pull the website down today, and pull the commercials off the air immediately. But that would be asking too much.

So with all that said, BD is voting for Tom Leppert for Mayor. He sincerely hopes that all his fears about ignoring neighborhoods turn out to be wrong. But with Ron Kirk and Roger Staubach whispering in his ears, we know better.

Here's to four years without anyone getting hurt at City Hall. It's the best we can hope for.

By Avi S. Adelman under Elections , Dallas City Hall