Challengers lining up to replace Dallas mayor




Posted on January 17, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 17 at 9:08 PM

DALLAS — Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert won't run for re-election, and already the scramble has begun at City Hall to replace him.

Council member Ron Natinsky told News 8 he's in.

Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway and Council member Angela Hunt appear ready to run as well.

Other possibilities include businessman Brint Ryan and Park Board President Mike Rawlings.

As Leppert joined the Elite News MLK Parade on Monday morning, he said he won't be marching toward a second term as mayor. The mayor wouldn't even commit to finishing out his first term that ends in June.

”What I can tell you is every single day —  and today's an example —  I'll put 120 percent into it, just exactly the same way that I've done the past four years,” Leppert said.

With Leppert's announcement, far North Dallas City Council member Ron Natinsky —   who last week said he was interested in the job — declared he is a candidate for mayor.

“Growing the economy and creating jobs are very important, that create the economic engine for the city to do all the other things, public safety, quality of life,” Natinsky said.

But a potential rival, Dwaine Caraway, could be mayor first. As Mayor Pro Tem, Caraway would take over for a few months if Leppert quits to run for the U.S., Senate.

“At this point, my name stays in the hat, " Caraway said. "We will look after the southern sector to make sure our concerns are addressed.”

Leppert's early departure as mayor looks likely because of the rapidly shifting political landscape in the Senate race. He would need most of this year to build a statewide campaign to challenge someone like Lt. Governor David Dewhurst.

When asked if he can get a campaign up and running by waiting until mid-year, Leppert was obtuse. “I can tell you that whatever I'm going to pursue, I can tell you I am going to go into it with the same thing that I did as mayor four years ago and I've done all my life, and that's to be successful,” he said.

Leppert leaves at a good time since there's no good news coming out of City Hall about next year’s budget. A new forecast that emerged over the weekend shows a revenue gap of $41 to $96 million.