Irving mayoral candidate Terry Waldrum asked residents in a newspaper advertisement if they were “tired of the neighborhood businesses that look like they belong in a third world country” or “West Dallas.”
Some minority leaders say the ads—which Mr. Waldrum reworded after receiving a complaint—are racist.
Reaction to the ads follows recent events that some say have fanned racial tensions in Irving.
Results of a recent city survey included dozens of negative comments about Irving’s growing minority population, including: “Quit pandering to illegal immigrants.” In addition, black and Hispanic students were involved in a fight this year at Irving High School. And in January, a Hispanic man said he was struck by an Irving police officer who was fired after the incident.
Mr. Waldrum, a former Irving City Council and school board member, said he never intended to run an ad that could be interpreted as racist. Hearing from the community caused him to re-examine the content, said Mr. Waldrum, who said diversity in Irving is “a good thing.”
Hispanics make up about 31 percent of Irving’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2000 data.
“I saw their point, and that’s why we changed it,” Mr. Waldrum said.
Manny Benavides, president of the Irving chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said, “If this is not bigotry, if this is not racism, I don’t know what is.”
Anthony Bond, past president of the NAACP’s Irving chapter, called the ads “veiled racism.”
“There’s no place for it,” he said. “It’s a slap in the face to all people who believe in racial equality.”
Two versions of Mr. Waldrum’s ad ran in the February and March editions of the Irving Rambler, a weekly publication. The ads begin with a question: “Are you tired of your family and friends moving out of Irving?”
The ads also state: “Are you tired of multiple families living in the single-family rental property next door?” and “Are you tired of the trash and numerous vehicles parked in your neighbor’s yard?”
Mr. Waldrum, who ran for Congress last year, said he dropped the “third world country” reference in the ad after receiving a phone call from a person concerned about the content.