Note: we have additional reasons to be worried about the leadership agenda coming from the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. So we share this email message from Equality Texas regarding electoral mood shifts–gm
Fort Worth Elects Openly Gay Joel Burns to City Council
The 80th Session of the Texas Legislature ended this past May in turmoil over the leadership of Speaker Tom Craddick. Yesterday, Tom Craddick was again on voters minds as Dan Barrett, a Democrat, won election to HD 97 in southwest Tarrant County where no Democrat had won for nearly 30 years.
“My wife and I put our hearts into this, because so many other people were putting their hearts into it,” said Barrett. Yesterday’s runoff election fills the Texas House seat vacated upon the retirement of Anna Mowery, who earned failing marks from Equality Texas on pro-equality issues.
Barrett’s opponent, Mark Shelton, aligned himself with Speaker Craddick. “It seemed to me that Shelton was never speaking for himself,” said Barrett. “Everything had to go through e-mail or though his handlers. It was as if everything came from Craddick.”
Republican Speaker Candidate Jim Keffer said, “Tonight’s outcome in the HD97 special election proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick is a sinking ship for the Republican Party in Texas.”
Because Barrett was elected to finish the remainder of Mowery’s term, Barrett and Shelton could face each other again in the November 2008 general election. Shelton has already filed for the Republican primary in March 2008.
Barrett was elected with support from the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats, Human Rights Campaign, and pro-equality members of the Tarrant County delegation: Rep. Lon Burnam, Rep. Marc Veasey and Rep. Paula Pierson.
Also on Tuesday, voters elected Joel Burns to the District 9 seat on the Fort Worth City Council. Burns, who was a member of the Fort Worth Zoning Commission, becomes the first openly gay member of the Fort Worth City Council.
“I have big shoes to fill,” said Burns. “My goal is to be the kind of city councilman the district has seen in the likes of Ken Barr and Wendy Davis, by getting up and working hard every day.”
Burns received the endorsement of, and financial support from, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Joel is the partner of Equality Texas board member, JD Angle.
Congratulations, Joel & JD!