DALLAS — Former Dallas police chief David Kunkle said Wednesday he’s considering running for Dallas mayor.
The office is open after Mayor Tom Leppert told News 8 last week he won’t run for reelection, clearing the way for a new mayor to take over in June after the election.
Kunkle served as police chief from 2004 until his retirement last year.
This is a surprising development since Kunkle has never publicly mentioned any interest in running for office. He slipped into retirement and off the political and public radar.
But he's definitely back on now. ”I am convinced that I can offer something to the city as mayor," Kunkle told News 8.
After retiring from his police blues, Kunkle now wears the blue pinstripes of a potential politician who knows he could run a city of 1.3 million after leading its police department.
“I've spent my whole career in local government, so I understand public policies and processes," he said. "Beyond that, I've been in every neighborhood in the City of Dallas.”
Kunkle knows the political value of those neighborhoods full of voters.
Under Kunkle, crime fell as the department added more than 700 officers.
His Dallas record rounded out a career where he also served as chief in Grand Prairie and Arlington and as the Arlington deputy city manager for five years.
But he's never been elected to anything.
For Kunkle, it would be an unknown factor if he runs. “I don't know if it's a weakness as far as how the voters will see it,”he said.
The only announced candidate at City Hall, far North Dallas City Council member Ron Natinsky, sees a possible Kunkle candidacy lacking job creation experience.
“Public safety is obviously an important part of that," Natinsky said. "Along with that you have got to have strength in economic development.”
Kunkle thinks he would receive strong support from southern Dallas voters.
But some minority council members, like Vonciel Jones Hill, question if people would see the former police chief as mayor.
“I think the general populace would see that as not necessarily as the right fit,” she said.
But big city police chiefs have been the right fit to become mayors in Miami, San Diego and Houston.
Kunkle said he understands why voters elect former police chiefs.
“To be a good police chief, you have to understand communities; you have to be politically astute; and you have to have dealt with tough issues," he said. "So I think it really is a good training ground.”
Kunkle will make a decision within two weeks after gauging support — and if he can raise the cash needed for a campaign.