Birth: c. 1957
Occupation: mayor, journalist
Source: Biography Resource Center Online. Gale Group, 2003.
After a Career as an investigative reporter and columnist at a number of papers, including the Dallas Observer, Laura Miller took action on her criticisms of the Dallas, Texas, city government. She successfully ran for city council in 1998, then mayor in 2002. When Miller took office, she left journalism behind.
Born c. 1957, Miller attended high school in Connecticut. She moved to Wisconsin to attend college at the University of Wisconsin. Miller began her journalism Career writing for Wisconsin's Badger Herald. She also worked at Madison Press Connection, a new daily in Madison, Wisconsin, as an unpaid intern and writer. Miller graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1979.
After graduation, Miller began her Career as a writer for Miami Herald, then, because of Wisconsin connections, the Dallas Morning News. She then was hired by the New York Daily News to work as a columnist that commented on the metro area.
Miller later returned to the Dallas, which became her primary home. She wrote for the Dallas Times Herald for time, but left because a new editor did not support her work. The paper later folded. In 1991, she began working as an investigative reporter and columnist for the Dallas Observer.
At the Dallas Observer, Miller was given the freedom to write on anything at any length. Much of her work attacked city hall. Miller was described by Ron Gurwitt of Governing Magazine as "a persistent, sharp-penned, irreverent thorn in the side of the city's power structure." She won the H.L. Mencken Award for newspaper commentary in 1995.
In December 1997, Miller decided to run for the Dallas City Council to make a difference in the city and address many of the issues she had been writing about. She immediately stopped writing for publication to avoid any potential conflict of interest, through she intended to return to the Observer return if she lost. Miller found campaigning very challenging and very different than writing. She talked to voters, made speeches, and addressed her critics.
Miller won a seat on the city council in 1998. While a council member, she continued to ask tough questions about the inner-workings of the city council. Miller fought against what she perceived as their established practice of rubber-stamping what the rich private sector wanted. Miller was often in conflict with the rest of the council and Dallas's mayor, Ron Kirk.
In December 2002, Miller decided to make a run for the position of mayor of Dallas. Kirk resigned in mid-term to run for the U.S. Senate, and a special election was called. Miller ran against Tom Dunning and Domingo Garcia. In her campaign, Miller promised to improve basic services like fixing potholes and improving police. She was leading in the polls before the election, though Dunning was supported by Kirk and other powerful interests.
Because no one received 50 percent of the vote (Miller received 48.8 percent while Dunning earned 39 percent), there was a runoff election in February 2003 between Miller and Dunning. She won the runoff with 55 percent of the vote, which was just as bitter as the campaign. Dunning still had the support of his business establishment, but Miller drew on her writing skills and positive charisma to win.
Of Miller's abilities as a politician, long-time friend/co-worker/competitor Bob Mong told Doug Moe of the Capital Times, "she has brought a lot of energy to the job. Her political instincts are every bit as good as her journalism instincts."
H.L. Mencken Award, 1995.