Even casual campaign watchers will not be surprised to hear that Mike Rawlings has the support of all but a few current city council members, and plenty of former ones as well. Maybe to underscore the point, maybe to show off just a little, Rawlings invited them all to join him outside City Hall at during the council's lunch break and let the press witness the awesome power of their combined presence behind him.
"He's a leader we can trust to cut waste," said former councilwoman Lois Finkelman. "Mike has been tested and found to be a true leader." (Incidentally, that Finkelman-led gas drilling task force will be hearing from interested members of the public tomorrow morning.)
Rawlings and his supporters repeatedly tried to create the impression of a gaping rift between he and David Kunkle, even if they've spent most of the campaign season agreeing with one another -- a choice, as Rawlings put it, between "business and innovation or government and the old ways of doing it."
Having locked up the support of 11 current council members, two former mayors and 10 former councilmen and women, Rawlings cast himself as the nimble problem-solver ready to, finally, make Dallas the business-friendly kind of place we always knew it could be someday.
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"It is time for a change," Tennell Atkins offered with a passionate flair. "On June 18, we are not choosing a new mayor. We are choosing a new direction for our city."
Atkins said Rawlings is the candidate who can unite all the corners of the city, while Pauline Medrano took the opportunity to tout Rawlings's commitment to education. Medrano said Rawlings "is committed to getting involved in an area that is traditionally out of bounds for a mayor: public schools." With the "educational alliance" Rawlings would create, Medrano said, the city could take advantage of nonprofit help and private donations to help shore up DISD's budget.
"The differences in the candidates, I agree, couldn't be more dramatic," Rawlings said, sounding like a coach heading into the big game. He reminded the crowd they haven't won the election yet, and asking for help in the last couple weeks before the election and asking the assembled pastors for their help getting voters to the polls.
After the event, Rawlings joined reporters to reflect on the scene. "People say, 'We want the city council to come together?'" Rawlings mused. "They've come together. And they're supporting me."