In Richardson, the city election may be a fading memory, but in Irving, it is still headline news. Saturday, Beth Van Duyne was elected mayor in a campaign described by KERA as nasty and expensive. The two candidates in the June 18 runoff spent more than $850,000 to win the mayor's office. It makes our little dust-up in Richardson, viewed as expensive here, now sound like a bargain.
Like in Richardson, city debt was a campaign issue in Irving. Challenger Beth Van Duyne: "When we have a $560 million debt on the city, it has quadrupled from $150 million. We have added, how much? Over $400 million in debt and we have seen very little development to show for it." Incumbent Mayor Herbert Gears: "I don't know where these numbers come from $100M to $500M, that's crazy. Our financial condition is rated among the strongest of the top cities 20 in the United States of America." Sound familiar?
The major issue in the mayoral election campaign was Irving's plan for a $250 million entertainment complex, including a 5,200 seat concert hall surrounded by 9 other stages, 11 restaurants and a parking garage all next to the new Irving Convention Center. Van Duyne says the project is "an ill-conceived entertainment center plan that lack[s] funding, private support, and sustainability ... This project has gone from bad to worse costing more than $32 million with nothing to show for it." Substitute Eisemann Center and maybe Sherrill Park and a new swimming pool and rec center and maybe even ... TREES!, and again, does this sound familiar to Richardson voters?
Oh, and there's one more thing about the Irving election that might sound familiar to Richardson voters. Beth Van Duyne is William Gordon's cousin.
One big difference between our parallel universes of Richardson and Irving is that in Irving, the voters weren't content with the status quo. The city's critics won. Van Duyne turned out the incumbent mayor by 57-43%.