Earlier this afternoon, we broke the news that Angela Hunt won't be running for mayor. She told us that she believes she can accomplish more as a council member and doesn't think the next mayor should be anyone who's on the current council. As it stands, council member Ron Natinsky and former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle are the only announced candidates, with Park Board chair and former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Rawlings expected to reveal his intentions soon. (Official filing for the gig begins on Monday.)
As promised, our interview with Hunt is below. The quotes in italics are ones used in our previous item.
Obviously, my first question is why?
One of the primary reasons is, as I've always said, 'It's not about what I want to be. It's about what I want to do and accomplish.' There are a number of outstanding projects that I want to continue to work on that frankly I think I'd be more effective and accomplish more as a council member rather than as mayor. And that includes work on Lower Greenville, our 2012 bond program, redistricting, oil and gas issues and some other issues going on in my district. Second thing is, I think this council will benefit and be more responsive to someone who is not currently on the council serving as mayor.
If you look at the current configuration of the council, all of the council members have considerable experience, and I think it makes it very challenging for someone within the council to ascend to mayor and essentially be first among equals. It's very hard for council members to respond to that leadership. So I think the city would be better served by someone who is not currently on the council serving as mayor.
A lot of people would point to Audrey Belle as a potential reason not to launch a mayoral campaign. Was she a key factor in your decision?
My family factors into every decision I make, and, certainly, I took that into consideration because I want to be the best mother possible and the best wife possible.
But, at the end of the day, the most important reasons for me are what type of leadership the city needs right now and what I need to continue to accomplish on the city council. There are millions of women across the country who balance leadership roles with caring for their families. I believe that that's doable, and the other reasons are more critical to me.
Are you ready to back David Kunkle at this point?
No, but I'm looking at the candidates. I can tell you what I'm looking for if I do decide to support one of the mayoral candidates. One of the primary things I'm looking for is someone who will focus on the issues that truly matter to the citizens of Dallas, someone who cares about improving our neighborhoods and not just building $100-million bridges or half-a-billion dollar hotels for visitors.
Another thing I'm looking for is, let me put it this way, I'm tired of our mayor being selected by the Citizens Council. And I've been really offended by some of the articles that have come out in the last six months in The Dallas Morning News, in which leadership of the Citizens Council suggest that it's their role to anoint the next mayor. Last time I checked, Dallas has a democratic system, and we need someone who is going to be accountable to the citizens of Dallas, not a small cabal of businessmen.
So would that rule out [Dallas Citizens Council member] Mike Rawlings if he were to announce?
I'm gonna have conversations with Mike and also with David and just get a sense from them what their values are, what they want to accomplish as mayor and how they want to lead our city. So I'm gonna have those conversations before I make a decision.
Also, I want someone who will take a fresh look at the Trinity River Corridor Project, because that has been stalled out, become unnecessarily complex and slowed down some absolutely critical safety improvements for our city. So we really need to take a fresh look at that and get moving on it and not let it continue to let it languish.
Is it safe to say you're gonna support somebody?
Honestly, I'm not sure yet, and that's why I'm trying to lay out what I'm looking for. And if those conditions are met and there's someone I think can bring really great leadership to our city and will focus on our citizens and not a small group of businessmen, I will lend my support to them. I really do believe we need an independent voice as our next mayor.
So would a good conversation with Rawlings supersede his Citizens Council ties?
I guess I need to understand what his ties are to the Citizens Council currently. I don't know that the Citizens Council has come out and said who they're backing, and I also need to understand what his core values are. It really just depends on what that discussion is.
I know you don't have your future mapped out, but winning this next election would mark your last term, so what are your plans after that?
I think there is a misconception that politicians map out their future -- have five-year plans or 10-year plans. That simply isn't the case. I really am focused and interested in what I'm working on right now, which is wanting to make sure that our city weathers the economic storm as best as possible and trying to bring the focus back to our neighborhoods instead of extravagant, big-ticket items. So if I can accomplish that, I'll be very proud. I'll deal with the future as it comes.
Leppert's term isn't over, but it seems like it's getting very close. How would you evaluate his term thus far?
I think there are a couple ways to evaluate him. If you evaluate him strictly from what my value set is, I don't think he's been a good mayor because he's been a champion of projects that I don't believe are in the best interests of the citizens of Dallas, like the Trinity River toll road, the publicly financed convention center hotel, the enormous $100-million bridge above the Trinity. I think, from that standpoint, he hasn't been in the trenches like our mayor should be and focused on fundamentally improving our government.
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If you look at him from the standpoint of has he accomplished what he set out to accomplish and his agenda, I think for the first three years in office, he was remarkably successful. He came in when half of the council was brand-new, and he was able to shape his agenda in that way because, frankly, the council members didn't know any better.
In his last year in office, I have seen a deterioration of his ability to work with the council and coalesce decisions, and that primarily has been because he's already running for higher office. He's running for a partisan office, and he's trying to appeal to a certain sector of that partisan group. So he has been comfortable breaking ties and allegiances with people on the council that he's been typically in alignment with.
One more quick question. Would you support a council vote to remove Dwaine Caraway as mayor pro tem?
I'm still considering that. I know that's kinda been floated in discussions. A lot of my constituents are very troubled by what they view as poor decisions and poor judgment, and so I really think it's important that our mayor be someone who can lead the city effectively and someone who shows good judgment.