Is It Laura Miller's Time, Again?

Laura Miller is back in a familiar role.In 2002 she rode the shoulders of pro-neighborhood voters to become mayor of Dallas, a stunning feat since much of the city's business elite was against her, as well as minority voters.During her more than five years as mayor, she pushed her basic services agenda, promised to make Dallas more neighborhood friendly and stop chasing the big-ticket initiatives that had defined her predecessor, Ron Kirk. Under her leadership the city implemented a smoking ban and development anti-discrimination laws aimed at helping the city's gay and lesbian residents. The city also developed a $23 million homeless assistance center.Now, 14 years after leaving City Hall, Miller is making a comeback, running for council against Jennifer Staubach Gates, a veteran incumbent who decided against a run for mayor. Gates, perhaps more than any other council member, is a darling of the city's business elite, though also popular in her council district. She's the daughter of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and NFL Hall-of-Famer Roger Staubach.Miller and Gates have clashed over the redevelopment of Preston Center in northwest Dallas.In running against Gates, Miller is returning to her roots as an unabashed champion of the neighborhoods, particularly when it means standing up against the city's business establishment.But can she pull it off?Miller is the most effective retail campaigner in the history of Dallas politics. Her bids for city council and then mayor were marvelous displays of a candidate identifying issues that matter to a base of voters that would carry her to victory.Yes, a lot of her popularity came from being the fierce opponent of Kirk, and she was often on the losing side of major votes. The media treated her as the council's opposition leader, and it paid off when Kirk left City Hall for an unsuccessful run for Senate against Republican John Cornyn, and Miller defeated Dallas businessman Tom Dunning in a special election. She would go on the beat former Acting Mayor Mary Poss in 2002 and was re-elected to a full four-year term in 2003.One of her few campaign blemishes was a failed attempt to lead a 2005 referendum that would have given the office of mayor broader power. Voters in southern Dallas, where Miller was unpopular, overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.  Continue reading...

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