- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 17, 2002

DALLAS Laura Miller, 43, a former investigative reporter and political maverick, defeated the establishment's top candidate yesterday to become mayor of the nation's ninth-largest city.
With 94 percent of precincts reporting last night, Mrs. Miller had 55 percent of the 129,846 votes. Tom Dunning, 59, a plain-spoken millionaire insurance executive and favorite of the business community, had 45 percent.
The election was to decide who would serve the remaining 15 months of Mayor Ron Kirk's term.
Mr. Kirk, the city's first black mayor, quit in November to run for the U.S. Senate seat for which Republican Phil Gramm declined to seek re-election.
Mrs. Miller, who stepped down during her second term on the city council to run, had been at odds with the city manager, mayor and most of the council for years first as a hard-hitting investigative journalist, then as a council member.
She often railed at what she termed secrecy and unaccountability in city operations. Mrs. Miller also criticized the mayor and City Council for being too close to big-business developers.
The Dunning campaign cited his record of serving on numerous city and state boards and committees. Mr. Dunning presented himself as a visionary who sought to revitalize the downtown area and bring in new business. However, his campaign never caught fire.
A major reason for his campaign's lackluster performance was that it had been hampered by an inordinate amount of what Mr. Dunning called "contrast advertising," which featured clips of Mrs. Miller fighting sometimes loudly against "business as usual" at City Hall.
Mrs. Miller said she was "flattered" by the Dunning campaign's concentration on her record as a councilwoman, but she said sarcastically that she thought voters might want to know what Mr. Dunning's plans were to help the city.
The Dallas Morning News strongly endorsed Mr. Dunning, as did the majority of the council, Mr. Kirk and many business leaders.
Participation was high as more than 20 percent of the city's registered voters turned out on a warm, sunny day.
Mrs. Miller will begin her term as mayor having to deal with several problems facing the city such as a $19.3 million shortfall in revenues, a high-profile scandal involving the police department and expected cutbacks in public services.

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