Mayor Dwaine Caraway and 11 current and former council members endorsed council member Ron Natinksy for mayor this afternoon at City Hall Plaza. Caraway urged voters, especially those in the southern sector, to choose Natinsky instead of David Kunkle or Mike Rawlings because the city is already headed in the right direction.
"We've got great things happening," he said. "We got people already working together that we already know. We don't have time to try to learn about anybody else new when we already have the right tools in the toolbox in councilman Ron Natinsky."
Caraway stressed that he had offered his support to Natinsky prior to becoming mayor following the resignation of Tom Leppert. He told Unfair Park after the press conference that neither he nor any of his people will be working for Natinsky's campaign, claiming he has his own re-election campaign to worry about -- even though he doesn't have a challenger at this time.
Council members Jerry Allen, Delia Jasso, Sheffie Kadane, Linda Koop and Dave Neumann were on hand, along with former council members Gary Griffith, Craig Holcomb and Ed Oakley. Former Mayor Mary Poss and ex-council members Lois Finkelman and Chris Luna were not in attendance but have also pledged their support to Natinsky. Once consultants and media were subtracted from the turnout, only about a half dozen folks were in the crowd.
Oakley repeatedly called Natinsky "the right man at the right time" and cited his reputation as "a serial entrepreneur."
"What's more important than anything right now is someone who understands the city," said Oakley, who lost to Leppert in the 2007 mayoral runoff election.
Allen said Natinsky is a "true friend," "financial watchdog" and "fiscal conservative," and he touted Natinsky's ability to build international relationships. Allen said Natinsky has visited China more than 75 times.
Other speakers mentioned Natinsky's involvement with luring corporations to downtown, assisting in the recent purchase of the Statler Hilton hotel and convincing Walmart to invest in South Dallas. He was also praised for his passion for neighborhood issues.
Koop referred to him as "one of the smartest people that I've come to know" and said he's led the region on transportation issues as chair of the Regional Transportation Council.
Natinsky said he's focused on public safety and noted that Dallas ranks 56th in per capita crime rate. He briefly mentioned an upcoming announcement that Dean Foods is preparing to invest $85 million in the southern sector. (The item is scheduled to go before the Economic Development Committee on Monday: The city's offering $250,000 in grant money, and 10 years' worth of tax abatements, for the creation of 80 jobs at a new factory on 18 acres at 3333 Dan Morton Drive.)
And he called the mayoral gig "the most exciting job in America."
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"You can actually work with people," he said. "You can get things done."
Caraway was the only one not wearing an endorsement sticker until he took the mic and asked Natinsky to place it on his blazer.
"This is who should have the gavel when it comes time to pass it in June," the mayor said.