District 11 candidates Leland Burk (left) and Ori Raphael

District 11 candidates Lee  Kleinman (left) and Ori Raphael

Linda Koop’s District 11 council seat is up for grabs between two contenders who don’t seem to be pleased with one another.

While introducing himself to the audience at the League of Women Voters and North Dallas Chamber of Commerce candidate forum April 3, Ori Raphael stated his patriotic “O” in his campaign logo is not meant to resemble President Barack Obama’s.

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Raphael says he’s had doors slammed in his face because “he (Lee Kleinman) had people going door to door saying my logo is a democrat logo,” Raphael says.

Kleinman argued that was not his message. Raphael says he’s just trying to put the “O” back in “Ori-o.”

Opening remarks

Kleinman says his service on the park board has given him an understanding of how the budget works. Not only that but he’s started, and runs several technology and wireless businesses. Raphael says he doesn’t know what is going on in City Hall, and he’s frustrated. Raphael says he’s had it with potholes and traffic (a theme for him), and is upset his daughter can’t play in their front yard on Churchill because traffic back up is so bad. He also wanted to bring to light that we pay more in taxes in North Dallas than Highland Park.

Cotton Belt Rail Line

When asked whether they were in support of the rail line the two candidates took different positions. Kleinman says the area needs to improve transportation options, and the rail line will provide a huge economic development opportunity at McCallum and Coit and the Tollway and Arapaho. Raphael responded by stating he is still “up in the air” on the topic since he’s hearing a lot of complaints about noise and traffic from locals. Kleinman retorted, “I challenge anyone concerned about noise to go listen to the hybrid trains on the Denton line. Also, we’re moving from sectional rail to regional rail. In District 12 there is a number of homeowners who bought their houses on a rail line.”

Omniplan’s vision for Dallas Midtown

Raphael says he lives within walking distance of the Valley View Center and thinks the traffic and noise that comes along with its development is going to be a “nightmare.” He relaxes a bit when he mentions that Councilwoman Koop said those issues would be addressed, and says the plans the architecture firm has released are going to be beautiful. Kleinman says the Dallas Midtown project at the Valley View area is an “extraordinary opportunity for Dallas.” Kleinman said he advocated “hard” for the green space and and parkland for all to enjoy.

Fracking on parkland

Kleinman said he wasn’t going to answer whether or not he is in support of fracking on parkland as it’s too complex of an issue.  He went on to say the city has 22,000 acres of parkland, but not every space has a park on it. Raphael spoke up and said he would answer the question, and stated the city shouldn’t be fracking next to a soccer field, but the city already made a contract and we have to comply. “What the city did is very frustrating,” Raphael says of making a deal with a company owned by Exxon Mobil. “They have good lawyers and they want their money back.”

Diverting traffic

When a man asked if there was a way we could divert traffic from the center of the city by collapsing highways and the like, Kleinman said we can’t take down the roadways, but we can add more places that aid in connectivity. Raphael says 18-wheelers shouldn’t be driving on 75, and that coupled with texting and driving causes traffic. “I’ll put through a texting and driving ban. Traffic is the big issue. Every 10 minutes you’re behind the wheel your stuck away from your family.”

Growing population

When asked how to plan for when Texas doubles in size, Raphael says we are lacking a vision and being “reactive in stead of proactive.” He said we need a new water reservoir and to make sure apartment complexes are being properly inspected. Kleinman said transportation is key and he plans on being involved with the Regional Transportation Council, and also wants to add sidewalks. He agrees with Raphael on the need for a water plan and mentioned investing in after school programs and education.

But soon the two started arguing about sidewalks by Northaven Trail and greenspace. Raphael argued there is no point in spending money on greenspace if we can’t even get to it because the sidewalks and roads are so bad. Kleinman asked Raphael if “quality of life” meant spending time in his car, to which he responded, “yes.” Then Kleinman retorted, “So you’re against quality of life projects? Funny you call yourself a young candidate.”

Closing remarks

Kleinman says his experience gives his message credibility. “I have a long history in this city.” he says. “I’m all about big vision and I have the background to do it.”

Raphael says when he looks and the city he see’s it’s not working. “We are losing families and big businesses,” he says. Raphael says he can be the independent voice that will listen to citizens and make sure the budget is slim yet works.


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