*ANALYSIS*

Candidates for Dallas City Council are required to file campaign finance reports 30 days before the May 1 election. City Council races are (thankfully) nonpartisan. All political parties want potholes fixed and the garbage picked up on time. Combing through the contributions to incumbent Paula Blackmon and challengers John Botefuhr and Judy Kumar say a lot about the candidates that you don’t see in campaign ads or hear in public forums.

Incumbent Paula Blackmon

It can be tough running on a record as an incumbent. Some people are going to be upset about Council votes and want accountability on Election Day. But it’s not hard to raise money. Blackmon started raising re-election cash in the summer of 2020. Her campaign filed a report for the period July-December 2020 showing she raised $35,310 during the last six months of the year. She had $65,513 in the bank Dec. 31. She also added $21,220 in contributions from January through March of 2021.

Her contributors evoke a strong sentiment of, “Let’s keep the mainstream incumbent.” The rundown of recognizable names is too long to list, but it includes former Mayors Ron Kirk and Mike Rawlings; mayoral candidates Tom Dunning and Lynn McBee; Councilmen Adam Medrano and Adam Bazaldua; former Council members Angela Hunt, Veletta Forsythe Lill and Alan Walne; former City Council candidate Bobby Abtahi; current and former DISD board members Dustin Marshall and Miguel Solis, respectively; and business people Manny Ybarra, Michelle Wheeler, Colin Fitzgibbons, Don McNamara, Neal Sleeper, Carl Ewert and Anne Raymond.

Not really fitting into that crowd is George Mason from the Wilshire Baptist Church pulpit and Texas Democrat and national League of United Latin American Citizens President Domingo Garcia.

Two diverse political action committees contributed to Blackmon’s campaign. The Home Builder’s Association of Greater Dallas gave $2,500. So did the Black American Futures PAC.

Looks like a long list of contributors getting on the Blackmon train early, hoping to have a seat for a second term.

Challenger John Botefuhr

Botefuhr didn’t raise any money in 2020 but tallied $38,500 in contributions from January through March of 2021. It’s an impressive number compared to other challengers in Districts 2, 7, 9 and 14.

It’s not unusual for a candidate to loan his campaign money early in the season with the expectation that he will be paid back in time with cash from supporters. Give him some credit: Botefuhr didn’t loan his campaign any money but did make two contributions totaling $610.

It’s hard to discern a message from his list with the exception of Mary Poss and Gary Griffith. It’s not the list of recognizable incumbent supporters that Blackmon has, but Poss and Griffith held this District 9 seat before Blackmon as residents from Lakewood’s core west of the lake.

Something’s brewing from Lakewood’s old guard when Poss and Griffith show up on Blackmon’s challenger’s financial report. Poss is also serving as Botefuhr’s campaign treasurer.

Four members of the auto magnate Sewell family contributed the maximum individual amount of $1,000 each. Botefuhr’s a customer for life.

Challenger Judy Kumar

Compared to Blackmon and Botefuhr, Kumar is a newcomer to North Texas and East Dallas politics, so she understandably lags behind the other candidates in raising money. Her tally through March was $13,157.

Kumar lives in Old Lake Highlands on Easton, so she has drawn support from that part of District 9, including longtime Lochwood neighborhood volunteer Scott Robson. Susan Fountain, active in the Texas Republican Party, is also on Kumar’s contributor list. Kumar contributed $500 to her campaign.

Election Day is May 1. Early voting begins April 19.


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