Kunkle says pretty much the same thing now that he's hit marriage No. 5. "I wish that I had not been married five times, and anything I say other than that is going to sound defensive and not serve any purpose. I wish it weren't the case."

If four failed marriages aren't enough of an uphill battle for Kunkle in a conservative city, he's embraced the label of anti-establishment candidate—a role most political observers thought would be played by Angela Hunt, who decided not to enter the race because she doesn't believe the next mayor should be a sitting council member. Kunkle has hired divisive community activist Avi Adelman as a campaign worker, and if he wins, Kunkle says he'll serve only one term: "It's not my intent to run again."

Kunkle voted as a citizen against the Trinity River toll road and convention center hotel—two projects pushed hard by Leppert and widely supported by the business community—and believes now is not the time for another chief executive-type leader. He's also fed up with a group of wealthy business people (not-so-secret code for the Dallas Citizens Council) anointing the next mayor. "When I chose to run, I knew that I'd run as an outsider," he says.

Mike Rawlings' pedigree is corporate America. But the mayoral hopeful was instrumental in making Dallas' homeless center, The Bridge, a success.
Mark Graham
Mike Rawlings' pedigree is corporate America. But the mayoral hopeful was instrumental in making Dallas' homeless center, The Bridge, a success.
Former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle has positioned himself as the outsider. He is widely credited with restoring public confidence in the DPD.
Mark Graham
Former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle has positioned himself as the outsider. He is widely credited with restoring public confidence in the DPD.

Born in Fort Worth and raised in Hurst, Kunkle returned to the Dallas Police Department in 2004 after spending three years as Grand Prairie's chief, 14 years as Arlington's chief and another five years as Arlington's deputy city manager. Former Dallas City Manager Ted Benavides selected Kunkle against the wishes of then-Mayor Miller as DPD's chief to replace Terrell Bolton, who was fired after a four-year tenure marred by a fake-drug scandal, a multimillion-dollar lawsuit from commanders demoted by Bolton and the nation's highest overall crime rate among large cities.

When Kunkle retired nearly six years later, crime had plummeted by a whopping 36 percent, but a handful of changes he implemented weren't popular with the rank and file, along with longtime Dallas Police Association President Glenn White. The head of the city's largest police union regularly criticized Kunkle in the media but didn't respond to interview requests for this story.

DPA secretary-treasurer Ron Pinkston echoes most of White's earlier complaints about Kunkle, questioning his firings and demotions and the restrictions he placed on pursuing suspects in vehicles and using deadly force. "Officers on the street felt like he was taking tools away from them to fight crime," he says.

DPD officers speaking not for attribution express similar frustrations with Kunkle's elimination of the chokehold, the limitations placed on car chases and his propensity to fire, demote and sanction officers who slipped up.

Greater Dallas Chapter of the National Latino Peace Officers Association president and 19-year DPD veteran George Aranda says he was also displeased with those decisions, claiming Kunkle "buckled" to community pressure when demoting officers. But he's quick to praise Kunkle for promoting diversity, maintaining an open line of communication with various police union groups, boosting morale and "turning around a department in turmoil."

Pinkston attributes most of the crime reduction under Kunkle to the city council's approval of 800 new officers and Kunkle's modification of how the DPD reports crime. Kunkle admits both were factors but stresses the department was understaffed during his first three years on the job because of the DPD's bad reputation and low pay.

Under his leadership, Kunkle says public trust was restored in the DPD. He purchased new equipment and cars and required officers to attend neighborhood crime watch meetings. "I always thought when I was chief that I represented everybody," he says. "It was different from running for political office where you try to get half the votes. I always thought I needed 100 percent of the votes all the time."

Kunkle describes the city as "overtaxed and underserved" but won't offer much in the way of specific budget cuts. Instead, he focuses on what he won't slash—neighborhood quality-of-life expenditures. Kunkle says budget cuts affecting neighborhoods—resulting in closed libraries, pockmarked streets and poorly maintained parks—contributed to Dallas' meager increase of fewer than 10,000 residents during the past decade, according to recent census data.

"That means that people voted with their feet and chose not to live in this city, and, to me, that should be a concern to people who live here and pay taxes," he says. "If you've got a lot of money, Dallas is great. If you're middle-class, normally it doesn't work out very well for you."

Kunkle may be running as an outsider with an insider's knowledge of City Hall, but Ron Natinsky is the race's real insider.

His campaign is somewhat of a Leppert-Ed Oakley cocktail. Not only was Natinsky Leppert's right-hand man on the council, especially during the Trinity River toll road and convention center hotel campaigns, but he hired Carol Reed—a high-priced consultant who worked on Leppert's mayoral campaign as well as the pro-toll road and pro-convention hotel campaigns.

Like Oakley—who lost to Leppert in the 2007 mayoral runoff and joins 11 other former and current council members on Natinsky's endorsement list—Natinsky is relying on his small-business experience and nearly six years as a city council member. Oakley also made his affiliation with the Democratic Party known in '07, while Natinsky can't hide as a Republican—having voted in 13 Republican primaries since 1976.

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20 comments
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Ann Maxwell
Ann Maxwell

Can you tell me (since they won't) how the top candidates voted for President? This is very important to me!!

Ann Maxwell
Ann Maxwell

Can you tell me (since they won"t) how the top candidates voted for President?

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

At first Nantinsky was the Citizen Council candidate. Next Rawlin is the citizen council candidate. Why don't you ever refer to Kunkle as Laura Miller's candidate? We know he is but since he is also the observers' candidate, you try not to do anything which might cause him problems.

Guest
Guest

I'm surprised with Dallas:

We gave the police force a reduction in pay.. We laid off teachers.. We are in a budget crises..

YET - we have unnecessary building projects going on right now that make NO SENSE financially - for example - the homeless parks that we are building across 75.. in downtown.. the bridge to nowhere. the trolley turnaround in Uptown.. the convention center hotel..

Just makes NO SENSE.. Dallas has a lot of problems..

One thing I liked this weekend about Southlake and Fort Worth - they had a very successful turnout at the art festival.. they wanted people.. lots of people..

Did they charge for parking? NO - free parking.. free event.. lots of people.. lots of people throwing money at all the businesses.. lots of tax revenue

Dallas - what do they do - overcharge for parking.. for any event .. and under deliver.. and they continue to with every new project: Opera House - $20 to $50 parking.. $100 to $500 ticket.. Mavericks.. Hockey.. Same thing.. there is no draw for tourists.. there is high line clothing stores and high prices food places.. NOTHING to bring in tourists and people who spend money..

YET we have a budget crises.. because we're mismanaging our funds and spending it on things that don't matter.. things that won't bring in tourists..

Dallas Cowboy Stadium.. oh the list goes on and on and on..

Darrylrs
Darrylrs

Five marriages and all, Kunkle is the only one of the bunch who will look out for the middle class. All in all, a boring selection. Can we just write in Robert Wilonksy?

Bung
Bung

Or Mike Moncrief.

Pdfreeman69
Pdfreeman69

Why is it when a Republican incumbent leaves office, the next guy comes into a $hit$torm?

md
md

Why is it when a Democrat incumbent leaves office, everything is rosy?

Oh, that's right, it's not.

samplerayt
samplerayt

Well, it'll be just like every other time. Property tax increases will be proposed and met with great consternation. If that doesn't get approved, then a property tax rate INCREASE will occur. A good percentage of folks will be forced to move to the suburbs because they can't afford the RENT Dallas charges for land and dwellings. Meanwhile, the over-the-top grandiose projects will continue only to be followed by more over-the-top grandiose projects, most of them simply stupid. To them, it's better to drive on ruined roadways to their latest 'Taj Mahal' than to have no 'Taj Mahal.' Each one leaves some soft of very expensive marker that soothes their ego. For those that live here, their only accomplishment is ever oppressive property taxes. It won't matter whomever wins as most of us lose.

samplerayt
samplerayt

Well, it'll be just like every other time. Property tax increases will be proposed and met with great consternation. If that doesn't get approved, then a property tax rate INCREASE will occur. A good percentage of folks will be forced to move to the suburbs because they can't afford the RENT Dallas charges for land and dwellings. Meanwhile, the over-the-top grandiose projects will continue only to be followed by more over-the-top grandiose projects, most of them simply stupid. To them, it's better to drive on ruined roadways to their latest 'Taj Mahal' than to have no 'Taj Mahal.' Each one leaves some soft of very expensive marker that soothes their ego. For those that live here, their only accomplishment is ever oppressive property taxes. It won't matter whomever wins as most of us lose.

Noemail
Noemail

Problem is that our current mayor is unable to add and subtract, and completely clueless regarding public policy and his domestic disturbance scandal

BNJB33
BNJB33

VOTE DAVID KUNKLE

Big Tex
Big Tex

Before you start crediting KNUCKLE with having the undying devotion of his rank-and-file "men-in-blue", why don't you poll heads of the different DPD organizations.Have you seen any of them endorse KNUCKLE as a candidate? NO!Besides, the idiot has stated that he would initiate Section 8 housing in North Dallas"because those ND rich people don't what it's like to struggle".Why not just make the idiot Mayor Pro-Tem the permanent Mayor of Dallas?He's a minority version of KNUCKLE....besides you could save the cost of inaugeration.

Mark Anthony Dallas
Mark Anthony Dallas

Kunkle was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police Dallas and the Latino Peace Officers. They liked being treated with respect, as opposed to the DPA which would prefer to tell (any) Chief how to do his job.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Natinsky--“He represents himself as a fiscal conservative, but he backed tax increases in 2005 and 2007 and was busted in October 2008 by The Dallas Morning News for spending $12,000 in taxpayer funds for thousands of plastic pizza cutters, letter openers, dish-scrubbing brushes and other trinkets bearing his name. He didn't see anything wrong with it then and doesn't now either.”-----that statement reminds me of the southern sector and the no bid Love Field Contract issue. Like Natinsky the southern sector too does not see any problem with their position on that issue of no bid contracts.

However I must point out too that the claim that Natinsky has “Republican Values” too is ludicrous in that he just can’t control himself when it comes to tax dollars-he can squander them like a pro too. As to Natinisky’s claim about being against taxes I just can’t get the image out of my head of all the council members sitting behind closed doors figuring out how they were going to raise taxes with out being accountable “you guys in the southern sector should come out in favor of raising taxes while us northern sector will come out opposed (and save our political skins with our constituencies) and we can go on a spending spree after we fund our budget.” And look at the spending they have embraced after a record tax increase and property value increases by the DCAD. No control what so ever in restraint on spending or prioritizing projects.

Oh yes lets not forget about the tax on Atmos pipe lines that was passed on to gas customers to fund the libraries and parks for 2010. A stealth tax is still a tax be it a fee or a valuation increase on property or increase on tax rate.

mpound
mpound

It looks like either Kunkle's head was photoshopped on to Rawlings body or vice-versa. Mike looks more commanding in his suit and purple tie than David does in his, no?

Oak Cliff Res
Oak Cliff Res

This might just be the most un-biased story I've ever seen the Dallas Observer put out. THANKS!!!

Jkwaghorne
Jkwaghorne

It's a shame to see history distorted by wealth and power. The Bridge was fought for and won by advocates on the ground and former Mayor Laura Miller was dragged tooth and nail to the table as were a majority on the council. (Dallas being ranked as the 6th meanest city in America also helped). It's sad how the eggs benedict always get the credit.

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

Queen Mary makes the decisions at city hall. The mayor merely carries her robe as do the others. Until she leaves, there is no great changes at Dallas City Hall.

 
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