Rasansky Says Supporting Leppert Was His Biggest Regret, Explains Support of Trinity River Toll Road And Much, Much More

Categories: Politics
Sam Merten
After serving eight years as a city plan commissioner and another eight as a council member representing some of North Dallas's more upscale neighborhoods, 72-year-old Mitchell Rasansky is no longer roaming City Hall when he's most needed. Replaced last month by Ann Margolin because of term limits, Rasansky now must sit on the sidelines as the council struggles to balance a $190 million budget deficit.

"He was a rare bird on city council in that he really understands a budget," says Donna Blumer, who appointed him to the plan commission and preceded him on the council.

Before he left, Rasansky called the budget "the most non-transparent" he'd seen in his time at City Hall. His final opportunity to weigh in on the budget came at a June 17 council meeting when he proposed $21.7 million in cuts, but Mayor Tom Leppert interrupted him twice, urging him to keep his comments within a five-minute time-frame. Tensions between the two were also apparent after the council approved last year's budget and Rasansky said Leppert was clueless about the process, adding that he was disappointed in the mayor because he refused to consider amendments from him and Angela Hunt.

Despite backing Leppert's 2007 mayoral run and subsequent campaign to keep the Trinity River toll road inside the city's floodway, their relationship quickly deteriorated, and Rasansky says there's no question that supporting Leppert is his biggest regret during his tenure as a council member.

"Not too many people pull the wool over my eyes, but he did," Rasansky tells Unfair Park. "I trusted the man, and I'm sorry I supported him. I surely would not support him in any future fields of battle unless he had a turnaround and realized the mistakes that he's made."

Rasansky, who strongly considered running for mayor himself until wife Rita convinced him otherwise, says he supported Leppert after the two met twice at Rasansky's office near Dallas County Republican Party headquarters. He felt comfortable with Leppert because he assured Rasansky that his goal was to run the city like a business, and he promised to crack down on handing out tax abatements to greedy developers. Once seen as a savior, Leppert proved to be a dud, Rasansky says.

"Leppert has had two years to bring this city around -- that's plenty of time," he says. "It's gotten in a deeper hole since he's been here."

He also viewed Leppert as a much better alternative to former council member Ed Oakley, who Rasansky says stood for everything at City Hall that he couldn't tolerate, so he rallied support for Leppert in a district with historically high voter turnout compared with other parts of Dallas. "I don't think he'd be mayor without me -- without District 13."

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