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Dallas City Council District 13 Election Preview: Big-Name Race With (Staubach) Gates vs. Burk

Leland Burk and Jennifer Staubach Gates  are still hunting for votes.  Photos by Suzanna Rubottom and  Lindsay Reynolds
Leland Burk and Jennifer Staubach Gates are still hunting for votes. Photos by Suzanna Rubottom and Lindsay Reynolds

There are four candidates on the ballot for Dallas City Council District 13, but everyone knows that this is really a two-horse race.

Either real estate/oil and gas investor Leland Burk or registered nurse Jennifer Staubach Gates will win on Saturday. The other candidates are Jacob King, a senior at Bishop Lynch High School who’s been old enough to vote for less than a year, and Richard Sheridan, who’s best known for being physically removed from public meetings after exceeding the time limit for speaking.

So what issues separate Burk and Gates in the contest to represent a district that includes the wealthiest portions of North Dallas?



Her pitch: “I’ve managed budgets. I’ve gotten good return on investments. I’ve also been accountable to donors. I’m going to be accountable to taxpayers as a fiscal conservative.”

Money raised: More than $400,000

Endorsements: Former Mayor Tom Leppert; Micki Rawlings, the wife of Dallas’ current mayor; the Dallas Police Association; and two of Preston Hollow’s representatives in the Legislature, Sen. John Carona and Rep. Jason Villalba

Campaign tactics: The biggest name in the District 13 campaign actually belongs to Gates’ father, Roger Staubach. Although the legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback says he didn’t want his daughter to enter politics, there’s no doubt his fame is a key part of her strategy. Anyone who’s seen her signs can’t help but notice her middle/maiden name; it’s in a different font than “Jennifer” and “Gates.” And the slideshow on Gates’ website begins with a picture of her and her dad.

The job of a council member: “It’s bringing people together to get things done. I’ve been leading people and bringing people together as a consensus builder my whole life.”



His pitch: “I’m passionate about business. Dallas is a big business. And I believe I’m best suited to represent our district on the City Council.”

Money raised: About $160,000

Endorsements: Ann Margolin, who is vacating the District 13 seat for personal reasons; Margolin’s predecessor on the council, Mitchell Rasansky; as well as former Mayor Laura Miller and her husband, former state Rep. Steve Wolens.

Campaign tactics: Burk’s campaign produced a 30-second commercial that features signs bearing the words “Leland Financial Expert Burk” and “Leland Entrepreneur Burk.” The ad’s underlying message is that all Gates has going for her is her father’s name. Some of his other allusions to the “Staubach” name have been lighthearted. For example, Burk’s campaign produced a flier that says he “also has a famous sports connection.” It shows Burk playing baseball as a boy at the Town North YMCA.

The job of a council member:  “We have a $2.5 billion business at the City of Dallas. We need proven financial experts on the City Council.”



In our pre-election survey, as of last night, 56% of participants said Jennifer Staubach Gates is unfairly benefiting from her father’s famous name.