Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Scenes from a Victory Party

The crowd parted and a murmur rippled through the room. "What the hell?" was the rhetorical question of the moment.

On a night when the not-very-large Sapristi Bistro in Park Hill played host to current Mayor Mike Moncrief, former Mayor Kenneth Barr, outgoing District 9 city councilwoman Wendy Davis and State House rep Marc Veasey, the most surprising and noteworthy guest crossed the room to congratulate the newly-minted District 9 City Councilman Joel Burns on his victory.

That man was Chuck Silcox. Yes, you heard me. The man who uttered the most infamous gaffe of the District 9 race was there -- Bluetooth headset firmly in place -- to say welcome aboard the City Council.

It was a touching moment. Really.

When I asked Joel later about what happened, he said, "I gave him a hug."

Yeah, and from what I saw, it didn't look like the most comfortable moment of Chuck's life.

"He said we need to talk."

Wouldn't you love to be in the room for that conversation?

It was a bizarre end to a truly bizarre race.

But, as I try to put this race into context, as I consider what this means for Fort Worth, I offer you a quote from one of the revelers there last night.

"This really means a lot to me," he said. "It's like a validation. It's like we are more open-minded here in Fort Worth than some people think. We're not a bunch of hicks. We're not that conservative."

And while it is worth noting that having an openly gay man elected to the city council is sign that Fort Worth is firmly rooted in the 21st Century, I don't think that was the most interesting development to come out of this race.

I believe that Joel Burns won this election because he was the candidate that a majority of voters in this district wanted, not because he was the gay candidate. With the exception of Silcox's unfortunate comment, Burns' sexual orientation was not an issue. He had to run this election based on his position on development, gas drilling, neighborhoods and growth. Those were the issues, not his personal life.

And that -- I think -- is progress.

So congratulations, Joel. Enjoy the moment, but remember, there is work to be done. I am hoping that you will be a strong advocate for the neighborhoods for District 9. I hope you will be a strong advocate on the gas drilling issue, as Wendy Davis has been. Good luck. We're counting on you.


Bernie said...

Indeed, congratulations Joel. It's funny, I held my endorsement back for quite a while because I didn't think it would have much of an effect, but Joel's final margin was just 271 votes. I got 262 on Nov 6.

Adam said...

Bernie's endorsement was one of the reasons I decided to vote for Joel.

I would have been happy with either canidate, but I am glad Joel won.

I had an argument with a friend about Joel being gay. He felt that if Joel was elected, Fort Worth would make national headlines for haveing a gay man on the city council. I told him we wouldn't because it's not a big deal to people any more. Turns out I am right :)

Steve-O said...

I agree, Adam. After all the talk about Ed Oakley during the Dallas mayoral election, I'm glad we didn't have a bunch of discussion about this either. It isn't a big deal. And you were right.