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New Dallas Mayor Says Gender, Race No Longer Barriers

April 19, 1987

DALLAS (AP) _ Mayor pro tem Annette Stauss, who defeated a businessman to become Dallas’ first elected woman mayor, says the city has erased the prejudice that once hindered women and minorities.

Mrs. Strauss received 61,978 votes, or 55.9 percent, to 48,710, or 44.1 percent, for Fred Meyer. She will take office as head of the nation’s seventh- largest city May 4.

″I think this proves one thing: that in Dallas, Texas, one is judged by one’s own energies, abilities and imagination, and that gender, or race or anything, nothing else like that can stand as roadblocks to one’s success,″ said Mrs. Strauss, sporting a hat with the slogan, ″Ms. Mayor. Lace Over Steel,″

″Dallas is ready for a woman mayor and for those few who may not be, ready or not, here I come.″

In Corpus Christi, meanwhile, former mayor pro tem Betty Turner became that city’s first female mayor Saturday, overcoming opposition from a man who vied to be its first Hispanic leader.

Mrs. Turner, who has served six years on the City Council, had 29,649 votes, or 58 percent, to 21,745 votes, or 42 percent, for Tony Bonilla, who has served as president of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Mrs. Strauss said she thought Mrs. Turner’s victory was wonderful. For her own part, Mrs. Strauss received congratulations from women heading other major cities, Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire and San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein.

Mrs. Strauss, 63, now faces the formidable challenge of leading a city suffering from economic woes that have hit oil-poor Texas. She will be working with the city’s first black city manager, Richard Knight, who was appointed in December.

A runoff was forced in the April 4 general election when Mrs. Strauss took 43 percent of the vote, while 26 percent went to Meyer in a field of nine candidates.

It has proved to be Dallas’ most expensive mayoral race ever. At last count, all mayoral candidates had spent more than $3.5 million in the race to replace Starke Taylor, who chose not to seek a third term. Mrs. Strauss and Meyer had spent nearly $1 million apiece.

Although neither Meyer nor Mrs. Strauss ran under a party label, both have close affiliations with the two major political parties.

Former Democratic National Chairman Robert Strauss, Mrs. Strauss’ brother- in-law, attended the victory celebration Saturday night.

Meyer, 59, former chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party, said in conceding defeat in his first shot at elected office, ″The voters made a decision, and I stand by it.″

The two candidates showed few major differences. Experience was a major theme of the Strauss campaign, which stressed her four years as an at-large member of the city council, plus nine years of service on city-related boards.

After claiming victory, she thankedsupporters, particularly minority leaders who worked on her campaign. She declined to say what her priorities will be, but pledged that ″the people will be involved in the decision-making process.″

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