DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – People are beginning to choose sides in the runoff for Dallas Mayor.
On Friday Ron Natinsky, who finished third in last weekend’s mayor’s race, threw his support behind front-runner Mike Rawlings. “I am going to announce right now my endorsement of Mike Rawlings as mayor for the city of Dallas,” Natinsky told a late morning news briefing.
The two businessmen shook hands and publicly made up from some barbed accusations in campaign mailers during the race. Now both tout economic growth and better city services. “If you look at Ron’s and my positions on almost everything in the city, we are lock step,” Rawlings told reporters, “We understand the importance of economic development , we understand to make sure we deliver better services to our taxpayers.”
Natinsky urged his supporters to get behind Rawlings, a blow to former police chief David Kunkle. “I would have preferred he had not endorsed anybody, but I’m not disappointed,” Kunkle told CBS 11, adding “it will give me the opportunity to contrast the differences between Mr. Rawlings and me.”
With endorsements and all the money Rawlings has behind him, Kunkle, whose first name is David, joked that he felt a little bit like David versus Goliath. “A little bit,” he chuckled “when I ran I knew that if I got elected this would happen about every 40-50 years that somebody with high enough name recognition running against the machine could get elected.”
Minutes later Kunkle and Rawlings met at a Dallas Regional Chamber forum, the first of many face-to-face appearances in the next four weeks. Both oppose raising taxes, both think quality education is vital.
One area in which they disagreed was in a controversy that’s dogged city hall for more than 15-years: whether to put a toll way inside the levees of the Trinity River Project. “I voted for approval of it,” Rawlings told luncheon. He still supports the vision of the Trinity but now claims he’s having second thoughts about costs and money to pay for the toll road. “And I said, ‘Let me just back off of this for a second until we get those questions answered.’ So I’ve asked for that information and people said, ‘It’s coming,’ so we’re going to kind of sort that out in the next year and I think we should have that discussion as a community. “
Kunkle was blunt. “I think the Trinity Toll Road is a bad idea,” he said. Kunkle worries the 9-mile road has no mid-point exits, once drivers get on they can’t get off until the other end of the tollway. “So it would not provide any access to the Trinity River, any access to any place in Dallas.”
Voters get the last say on the mayor’s race; the runoff is June 18.