Friday, December 7, 2007 , Updated 10:32 a.m., December 19, 2007
UPDATED: Gay candidate Joel Burns wins Fort Worth city council seat
Runoff election also resulted in victory for gay-friendly Democrat Dan Barrett in Texas House District 97
An openly gay City Council candidate and a state House candidate backed by the Human Rights Campaign face runoff elections Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Early voting begins Monday, Dec. 10, in the races between Joel Burns and Juan Rangel for Fort Worth City Council District 9, and Dan Barrett and Mark Shelton for Texas House District 97.
Burns, a real estate agent and Fort Worth zoning commissioner, would become Tarrant County’s first openly gay elected official if he wins the nonpartisan City Council race. Barrett, a Democrat, recently got some help from HRC in his race against the staunchly conservative Republican Shelton, a supporter of House Speaker Tom Craddick.
Both Burns and Barrett have been endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Tarrant County. Burns also has been endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund of Washington, D.C.
Burns, the top vote-getter in the Nov. 6 election with 37.5 percent, said he’s confident heading into the runoff against Rangel, a Fort Worth school board member who finished second with 23.4 percent.
Burns said he’s hoping for a similar margin of victory this time around.
“Basically, I would just say that things are going very well,” Burns told Dallas Voice this week. “I think that that’s not undoable.”
Rangel did not return a phone message left at his campaign office.
Burns came under attack for his sexual orientation prior to the Nov. 6 vote, when District 3 City Councilman Chuck Silcox urged people to vote for Chris Turner because Turner is straight. He finished third and failed to make the runoff.
Barrett, meanwhile, finished first in the general election with 32 percent of the vote to the second-place Shelton’s 23 percent in a seven-way race to replace retiring Republican state Rep. Anna Mowery. Neither Barrett or Shelton could be reached for comment.
HRC sent out an action alert this week urging members to volunteer for Barrett’s campaign. Marty Rouse, national field director for HRC, said the organization is supporting Barrett because the House needs new leadership.
“Too often the LGBT community in Texas is fighting against anti-LGBT legislation, and we’re hoping that with new leadership in Austin, that the attacks on the LGBT community will stop,” Rouse said.
The off-year race between Barrett and Shelton marks the first for Texas Legislature in which HRC has gotten involved, Rouse added. “We expect to be mobilizing our members and be getting much more involved in other state legislative elections in the coming year,” he said.
Those who wish to canvass for Barrett’s campaign can meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 or 15 at Tarrant County Democratic Party headquarters, 3004 W. Lancaster in Fort Worth. Those who wish to make phone calls can go to party headquarters between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 10 through 18.
Burns said he’s also looking for volunteers to canvass neighborhoods on the weekends. For more information, go to http://joelburns.com or call 817-921-5635.
UPDATE: Burns bested Juan Rangel with 56% of the vote.