There are two ways to look at Kunkle’s candidacy, which he announced yesterday. One is that he is the neighborhood candidate, based on his record as police chief and the support of Steve Wolens, who compiled a more than credible record in the legislature as a neighborhood kind of guy.

The other is that he is the establishment candidate, because he was Dallas’ police chief — as well as an assistant city manager in Arlington and Grand Prairie. Kunkle understands how the council-manager system works, and is not likely to rock it in any way.

And I have absolutely no idea which is correct. More, after the jump:

Kunkle has strong neighborhood credentials. He fought — and fought against determined opposition, both from the council and city bureaucrats — for his vision of community policing, the New York City-inspired method that focuses on cutting crime in the neighborhoods. I have interviewed him, and he believes in this stuff. That Wolens has signed on as his campaign treasurer is a plus.

Yet Kunkle, first and foremost, is a cop and administrator. And cops and administrators are usually not populist, reform candidates who oppose things like the Trinity toll road. They are system guys, and they look for solutions within the system — even if it’s broken, as ours seems to be. In this respect, a Kunkle mayoralty would almost certainly not worry anyone who supported Mayor Park Cities. Though, perhaps, city manager Mary Suhm might be a little worried.

The one sure thing about this? That former mayor Laura Miller, the woman so many people love to hate, will be front and center in this campaign. She is married to Wolens, of course, and was mayor when the city hired Kunkle in 2004 to replace Terrell Bolton. If nothing else, that will enliven the campaign.

And this should — thankfully — keep M Streets councilwoman Angela Hunt out of the mayoral race. She and Kunkle would split the anti-Natinsky vote, making it easier for Natinsky to win. Which I don’t think she wants.