The swirling force of Texas politics

Irving Mayoral Race Gets Ugly

Candidates accuse each other of dirty campaign

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Thursday, Jun 9, 2011  |  Updated 7:01 PM CDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Incumbent Mayor Herb Gears and Councilwoman Beth Van Duyne are accusing each other of dirty campaigning in the runoff race for Irving Mayor.

Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com

Incumbent Mayor Herb Gears and Councilwoman Beth Van Duyne are accusing each other of dirty campaigning in the runoff race for Irving Mayor.

Photos and Videos

Race for Irving Mayor Heats Up

The campaign for Saturday's Irving mayoral election is breaking all previous fundraising records, more than $400,000 has been collected by the four candidates.
More Photos and Videos

The candidates for Irving mayor are each accusing the other of misleading voters in their runoff campaigns for what is believed to be the most costly election in the city's history.

Campaign contributions to all candidates totaled more than $400,000 at last report in May.

Incumbent Mayor Herb Gears faces former Councilwoman Beth Van Duyne in a June 18 runoff.

"He gets his facts -- let's say, nicely mistaken -- and then he writes them as attack ads," Van Duyne said. "It's not, I'd say, a positive thing for an incumbent who really has had six years in office."

But Gears said his ads are a "voter education" campaign that's necessary to counter Van Duyne's untruthful attacks.

"And then to brag about being transparent and brag about being financially competent and things like that -- that’s just not just congruent with those statements, what we know to be the truth, and we're going to let the voters know the truth," he said.

Gears has raised by far the most campaign money in the race, hundreds of thousands of dollars at last report, much of it from developers of a Las Colinas Entertainment Center project that Van Duyne criticizes.

"Millions of dollars have been spent with no accountability," Van Duyne said. "I'm looking at $23 million that were reimbursed to a developer who still has not overturned a single piece of dirt."

Gears said the developers are justified in contributing to his campaign.

"We're happy to have the resources," he said. "We know that this project is very important to the city of Irving, so anyone who wants to support that project being successful and being completed certainly should be supporting my campaign."

Gears and Van Duyne each have television ads that criticize the other, but Gears’ ads run on network television stations reaching all of North Texas, not just Irving voters.

"We have to do that," Gears said. "This is an important election. The people deserve to be notified of what's going on. Fortunately, we've got resources in this campaign to let that happen."

Van Duyne's television ads run only on Irving cable TV.

"I don't need to embarrass him in Terrell or Denton or Corsicana," she said. "It doesn’t make any sense."

Gears first runoff ads accuse Van Duyne of resume fraud, which she denies.

His latest ad accuses her of charging taxpayers for family expenses on a trip to Orlando, Florida for city business.

She insists she has records that show she paid for the personal expenses.

The two have been rivals dating back to 2004, when Van Duyne first beat Gears to win a seat on the Irving City Council.

The following year he won the mayor's seat, and the rivalry continued.

"I don't think he's an honest person, and I see that he continues to do this for his own personal agenda," Van Duyne said. "I have no respect for him."

Gears said he is the selfless public servant, not Van Duyne.

"I have no animosity for her aspiration to pursue a political career, but I believe as a citizen of Irving that we need better than that," he said.

It appears the negative tone of the campaigns is not driving voters away from the polls.

A steady stream of voters cast ballots at the Irving City Hall early voting location Thursday. Election workers said the turnout in the runoff so far has been noticeably better than during the election in May.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out