No sooner had Laura Miller pulled off her greatest coup as mayor of Dallas – brokering, with her Fort Worth counterpart Mike Moncrief, a deal to end the long impasse over the Wright Amendment – than she announced that she would not run for reelection next year.
Normally I am dubious when politicians attribute their decision to leave public life to wanting to spend more time with their families. In Miller’s case, however, I’m buying it. Her husband, former Democratic state legislator Steve Wolens, is a friend of mine, and I remember his mixture of admiration and apprehension when she decided, on a lark, to run for city council, and then, finding larks attractive, to fill Ron Kirk’s unexpired term as mayor. Miller herself told me that if she ran for reelection this time, two of her three children would be in college when her next term was up.
But just in case someone more cynical than I is looking for other reasons, try these: (1) Miller has never been able to patch up her differences with the black community, to the point that a bid for statewide office as a Democrat (something she insisted she never wanted to attempt anyway) was out of the question; (2) Business leaders, most of whom supported her when she ran for her first full term, jumped ship when she wouldn’t open the city’s coffers to ensure that the Cowboys’ new stadium would be in Dallas. Arlington’s $325 million offer effectively chased both the city and the county out of the game anyway; (3) Her big vision for Dallas, the Trinity River project, has stalled out.
Whatever the truth, I’ll miss her in the job. How long will it be before we see another populist mayor of Dallas – even a self-described one?