Why Mayor Tom Wouldn't Admit to Running for Senate Even If He Were

Wick Allison committed an act of journalism today by calling Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and asking him if he's going to run for Kay Bailey Hutchison's seat. Leppert gave him an answer that was not "No," which, in the language of politics, means "Yes." Only, he didn't say yes.

The reason for Leppert not to admit at this point that he's a candidate for anything, even dog catcher, is plain enough if you look at the Dallas city charter. It says three different times in three different ways that anybody on the city council who runs for another office is out the door.

Wick speculates that Leppert probably wouldn't even carry Dallas if he tried this stunt. I think Wick's spot-on. So why would Leppert try it? Because from the moment of his first toe-dabbing entry into the pond of politics, Leppert has been entirely a creature and creation of political consultants.

City Hall old-timers tell me they've never seen consultants buzzing around the mayor's office the way they have since Leppert. And why would that cause him to believe he should run for U.S. senator? Because consultants make money when their guys run for stuff.

Wind him up. Send him out. Collect 50 percent of your fee in advance.

Anyway, for those not interested in sifting through the 154-page charter, here's the language:


(a) No person elected to the city council shall, during the term for which he or she was elected, be appointed to any office or position of emolument in the service of the city. If a member of any board appointed by the council or any appointive officer of the city becomes a candidate for nomination or election to any public office, he or she shall immediately forfeit his or her place or position with the city.

(b) A member of the city council shall forfeit his or her place on the council if he or she becomes a candidate for nomination or election to any public office other than a place on the city council or if he or she becomes a candidate for election to any different place on the city council that requires taking office prior to the end of his or her elective term.

(c) If any employee of the city becomes a candidate for nomination or election to any elective public office within Dallas County; or elective public office in another county within the state, having contractual relations with the city, direct or indirect; or any elective public office that would conflict with his or her position as an employee of the city, the employee shall immediately forfeit his or her place or position with the city. (Amend. of 6-12-73, Prop. No. 8; Amend. of 11-8-05, Prop. No. 13) NOTE: See Section 12A-10 of the Dallas City Code for judicial interpretation of this section.
Here's the link to that section of the Dallas City Code, for those still reading. --Jim Schutze

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze