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Editorials: We recommend Van Duyne for Irving mayor
The four-person race for Irving mayor boils down to two strong candidates: ever-present, quotable incumbent Herbert Gears and former City Council member Beth Van Duyne.
Gears has been an energetic advocate for Irving during his six years in the mayor’s office, but legitimate questions have been raised concerning a planned $250 million entertainment center financed mostly by the city, which is working with private developer-operators. We agree with Van Duyne that the city — and Gears — are in over their head in negotiating this business deal and its legal complexities.
As mayor, Van Duyne would deliver better cost controls and more transparency for the Las Colinas project. She maintains that the developer negotiated a sweetheart deal and that taxpayers deserve better. She offers a straight-shooting approach and an opportunity to clear the air. That makes her the superior candidate for mayor on the May 14 ballot.
The challengers also include former council member Tom Spink, 72, owner of an insurance agency, and Joe Putnam, 70, a lawyer and former mayor who was turned out of office by Gears in 2005. Neither offers the ideas or leadership to move the city forward.
A corporate communications executive, Van Duyne, 40, is focused on accountability and the need for balance on what she says is a go-along council. She turned Gears out of his council seat in 2004.
Van Duyne doesn’t dispute the need for an entertainment center near the new convention center, but she charges that the city is “spending money like a drunken sailor” and has taken on needless debt. She cites a review that said the city should not have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses charged off by the developer and restaurateur Billy Bob Barnett.
Gears, 48, a financial consultant, recites a list of accomplishments in office, including lower crime, more police officers, removal of used-up apartments and development in anticipation of DART’s Orange Line service. In several of these cases, however, he overstates his role. In a few cases, he takes credit for the accomplishments of initiatives he initially opposed.
To his credit, Gears has been a fierce advocate of keeping the DART project moving along. But he has left himself vulnerable on financial issues, and Van Duyne makes a strong case for correction.