I have written about the silver lining surrounding the defeat of the Trinity toll road referendum a little. I'd like to explore that a little further. First, take a look at this precinct map. What do you see? - a sea of blue in East Dallas. East Dallas was the soil of this grass roots campaign (at the risk of extending a metaphor too far). This populist voice that is emerging in the city appears to have it's heart in East Dallas.
If the voters of East Dallas are as united on other issues as they have been on the Trinity toll road, and I think that could happen, then there is a new political force in this city. And it's already a voice that has drawn 47% of the voters. The blogoshpere has already labeled this area of town as the People's Republic of East Dallas, or alternately the Eastern Bloc, for the area's more liberal leanings. I think a more endearing term would be Little Austin. Some residents have suggested seceding from Dallas (only half-joking).
We hear a lot about North Dallas as the conservative business minded vote. We know that South Dallas is a political force to be reckoned with, and Vote No did a much better job of turnout in South Dallas. I'll bet in the next election - whatever it is - you'll hear a lot more about which way East Dallas will swing.
Where does that leave my home, Lake Highlands, on the borders of North Dallas and East Dallas? We're somewhat of a mixture. A lot of the area seems to lean toward the North Dallas mindset, and that will probably predominate for the foreseeable future. We also have lots of folks that are there for the proximity to White Rock Lake and value the public spaces we do have in this city and are perhaps a little more ecologically aware. But it appears that most of Lake Highlands followed the lead of North Dallas rather than the influence of our neighbors to the South.
Let's fast forward to the next mayoral election. Let's say Angela Hunt enters the race. She is clearly the most visible local politician next to our current mayor. Her star will continue to rise at every toll road delay or cost overrun or problem with the Army Corps of Engineers or North Texas Tollway Authority. She's going to look smarter and smarter. People from other parts of town will start to warm up to her. And East Dallas could usher her into the mayor's office.
Matt Pulle at the Observer says that East Dallas will always be the lovable losers in this town (last paragraph). I think he underestimates the future potential of a progressive voice in Dallas. He's part of the alternative media, though, and so it's in his interests to be anti-establishment. If his side won, he'd be pro-establishment and that would just be too weird! It's just as weird that I'm being optimistic about Dallas. But I've decided to make my home here so optimism is the way to go for me.
By the way, my favorite term to come out of the post vote chatter: Pop-up Morning News. One visit to their web site will tell you why.