Mayoral Candidates Go For Bike Ride. That May Not Be Enough to Get Voters to the Polls.

Oh, right -- there's a runoff Saturday, or did you already forget? Apparently you did: Toni Pippins-Poole, Interim Dallas County Elections Administrator, tells Unfair Park this afternoon that as of Sunday, 15,451 people have cast their ballots in early voting -- well shy of the 16,644 who's voted during the same time frame in the 2007 runoff between Tom Leppert and Ed Oakley. Says Pippins-Poole, that year 15 percent of the electorate voted in the do-over. "But if the trend continues," she says, "this time we may be at 11 to 13 percent." That's awful, I tell her. "It is," she says. "We need something to spark it up."

Best I can offer right now is this: As promised, both David Kunkle and Mike Rawlings did in fact pedal 'round town Sunday as part of Bike Friendly Oak Cliff's sweat-drenched Hellhound on My Trail Ride, a historical tour of Dallas's musical landmarks including 508 Park Avenue and the Longhorn Ballroom. Jason Roberts has the recap; Andrea Roberts provides the photos (including this one of a fetching young man by the name of Danny Balis).

Yesterday, for those who missed it, The News also ran op-eds by both candidates, in which Kunkle and Rawlings take their cases directly to readers. Shame the paper put those pieces behind the pay wall. But since they are, well, let's jump for some excerpts.

First, this is some of what Kunkle had to say:

I have spent my career studying what makes cities great -- why some thrive and others die. The answer is simple: strong neighborhoods. Bishop Arts in north Oak Cliff is a stellar example. The city of Dallas made a modest investment, which provided the foundation for organic development. Locally owned restaurants and shops have opened, young families have moved in and created their own sense of community, and it is now one of the coolest neighborhoods in town. We must embrace the uniqueness of our neighborhoods and invest in city services that contribute to the livability of our city.

White Rock Lake, Fair Park, Kiest Park and the Trinity River corridor are all incredible assets. These are jewels that separate us from the suburbs. Look at the great cities across the United States. What you will find is a focus on neighborhoods as the foundation and driver for growth and economic prosperity. Neighborhoods first, not big business first.

I recognize the importance of growing our economy, but the old, tired strategy of CEO-to-CEO corporate relocation recruitment has not been the answer. We give tax abatements, but the corporate executives and most employees do not actually move within the Dallas city limits. Where is the benefit to our tax base? Attracting corporate headquarters is wonderful, but if the employees do not live in Dallas, spend their money at our restaurants and shops and become part of the social capital of the city, then we do not benefit.

I will promote small, local economies that create jobs and sustainable, livable neighborhoods. We have had dozens of CEO mayors, yet we have still had four years of significant budget shortfalls. Isn't it time we elect a mayor who actually has a proven record of improving local government?

And now, Rawlings:
I believe that to become the best city in America for business, Dallas needs a mayor who's from business. As mayor, I will put more than three decades of experience as a CEO and investor and adviser to small and medium-sized businesses, to work for taxpayers and citizens. Here is just the beginning of what I will do as mayor to better manage our budget cycle, spur growth and expand our commercial tax base:

•Recommend a two-year budget forecast that allows us more time to find effective solutions when we see big budget gaps.

•Work department by department to cut waste and streamline systems to make sure taxpayers get a greater return for each dollar, while protecting police funding.

•Make City Hall more user-friendly for small business and developers by reducing development and permit fees, cutting red tape and requiring quicker decisions and approvals from city departments.

•Work at a CEO-to-CEO level to attract new business and spend one day per week reaching out to Fortune 500 CEOs and selling them on doing business in Dallas.

•Implement a comprehensive plan led by stakeholders to boost economic growth in the Southern Sector by 30 percent over the next five years, building upon key successes like Bishop Arts, the Lancaster-Kiest transportation corridor and the University of North Texas at Dallas.

Being mayor also means having the courage to take on big challenges that are crippling our city, even if it means stepping on toes or reaching beyond the traditional boundaries of the mayor's office. For Dallas, the elephant in the room that not enough of our leaders are acknowledging is the state of our public schools.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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