There was a rather interesting exchange between mayoral candidates Mike Rawlings and David Kunkle at this morning's mayoral debate at the North Texas Food Bank. And it began with a question posed to all four candidates (including, of course, Ron Natinsky and Edward Okpa) by moderator Janet Davis, one of the food bank's consultants, on behalf of one of the audience members -- Angela Walker, the executive program director for residential services at The Family Place.
"As mayor, what message would you relay to the citizens of Dallas as it relates to domestic violence?" Davis asked the foursome. "How would you move us to a violence-free society?"
As you'll hear in the video clip that follows, Natinsky was up first, then Okpa; both gave perfectly thoughtful answers. And then Rawlings spoke, at first addressing the "heroes" on the front lines who deal with the victims of domestic abuse. Then, as you'll hear at around the 4:36 mark, the former homeless czar says, "The root cause of domestic violence is poverty -- the struggles they find in their lives -- and the only answer is economic growth." Jobs, he said, provide the "answer to the small issues that happen in a family's home."
"I want to disagree with Mike," said the former Dallas Police chief. "The cause of domestic violence is not poverty. It's control, and one way people exercise control is through the use of violence."
I asked Walker for her thoughts on both answers.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
And she said: "Chief Kunkle was correct in stating the root cause of domestic violence is power and control, but Mr. Rawlings had a point in addressing the poverty issue. That's why many women stay -- because they don't have the resources to leave. They are stuck there, and many of the women and children who are homeless are there because of domestic violence, having to flee their homes to be safe. So both of them had some correct parts to what they were saying. But my intent was to get the issue of DV addressed and hope the candidates and whoever becomes mayor will continue to address it. We want the message elevated and want more comunmity awareness -- not just getting the victim help but also addressing the abuser."
The entire exchange between all four men is below.