Melissa mayoral campaign heats up over real estate

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by By BYRON HARRIS / WFAA-TV

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Posted on May 6, 2009 at 8:43 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 5:00 PM

Election Challenge

Byron Harris reports

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MELISSA - Nine North Texas cities will vote for mayors this Saturday. The biggest of those cities is Fort Worth, and the smallest is Melissa, which is located north of Dallas.

Mayor David Dorman has two opponents. And while the debates have ensued, there is one looming issue in the campaign that Dorman refuses to discuss on camera. It's an issue some people see as his conflicts of interest.

"I think there's reason for concern," said Reed Greer, a mayoral candidate. "His role as a real estate investor in this town causes concern."

As a member of a real estate partnership, Dorman is part owner of 14 parcels of land that total 128 acres, county tax records show. But, Dorman won't reveal who all the partners are, and in e-mail describes himself as a minority partner.

After repeated requests for interviews over the last several weeks, he told News 8 in e-mails he was too busy. He said the continuing question of conflicts of interest over his property and his role as the mayor is all politics, brought up by his opponents in the mayoral election.

"But I think that's something that every businessman has the right to do is to invest in his own city," he said in a December interview.

But questions over Dorman's real estate began with the 2007 bond issue, which was before anyone was running against him. Two road improvements that would have cost Melissa residents at least $3 million were in the proposal. The bond issue passed.

But after it passed, citizens realized one road directly adjoined the mayor's property, and the other one was nearby. He would clearly benefit by the improvements.

Now, both roads have been removed from immediate construction plans.

"Any decisions for the improvements along that road will be made by a future city council based on criteria deemed necessary by the policy makers at that time," Dorman said.

"I believe he has a vested interest," said Micki Jobson, the other mayoral candidate. "He owns a whole lot of Melissa."

While the mayor said he had never profited from the sale of real estate in Melissa, he later said he forgot about a $585,000 sale as part of a partnership that sold land near Melissa's water tower.

Later, he said his share of the sale was just $100,000; he said he donated the profits to a charity. He then amended that to say he gave the profits to charity "over a few years."

"I do not now, nor have I ever, used my public office to do anything but serve the residents of our community," Dorman said in an e-mail to News 8.

Longtime residents say this is the most hotly contested election in the nine years since Dorman has been mayor.

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