Runoff elections took place in Dallas and Fort Worth on Saturday, June 5. While most of Dallas’ incumbents or incumbent–backed candidates won, Fort Worth’s left-leaning faction gained a 5-4 city council majority despite Mattie Parker winning the mayoral race.
Mattie Parker, former chief of staff for outgoing Mayor Betsy Price, defeated Democrat Deborah Peoples 53 percent to 47 percent.
Parker was backed by the Dee Kelly Jr. faction of the establishment, while Peoples was backed by leftist organizations.
“There are a lot of things we’re going to tackle in the coming years,” Parker told the crowd at her watch party on Saturday night. “Number one is bringing our city together.”
“In Fort Worth, we’re going to embrace positive policies and consensus building with ferocity,” she continued. Specifically, she mentioned redistricting, tackling education, affordable housing, and public transportation among the issues the city would address going forward.
We’re going to do this all while fostering a high quality of life across our entire city.
In city council races, incumbent Councilmember Jungus Jordan was defeated by Dr. Jared Williams 51 percent to 49 percent. Williams was backed by leftist organization Run for Something and endorsed by State Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D–Dallas) and former Democrat congressional candidate Kim Olson. He also held a get-out-the-vote event with Joe Jaworski, Democrat candidate for Texas attorney general.
In District 9, Elizabeth Beck defeated Fernando Peralta 62 percent to 38 percent; in District 8, Chris Nettles beat incumbent Councilmember Kelly Allen Grey 52 percent to 48 percent.
Meanwhile, in District 7, Leonard Firestone defeated conservative Zeb Pent 55 percent to 45 percent in the race to replace retiring Councilmember Dennis Shingleton. Firestone has repeatedly refused to answer questions from Texas Scorecard about an allegation that he engaged in illegal campaign finance activities. Another attempt was made at Firestone’s watch party on Saturday evening. “I’m not going to answer that,” he replied.
Williams’ win combined with Beck’s and Nettles’ victories means the left-leaning members of council have gained a 5-4 majority, with Councilmembers Gyna Bivens and Carlos Flores making up the rest of the majority. Mayor-elect Parker will join the minority coalition of Councilmembers Michael Crain, Firestone, and Cary Moon.
Even though Firestone was on a list of recommendations from Democrat organizers, he was also backed by the Kelly Jr. faction of the establishment. It’s expected he’ll be part of the minority coalition.
Depending on how Williams actually votes, it appears the Fort Worth establishment has lost control of the city council for the first time in years.
As of 12:45 a.m. on Sunday, out of the six Dallas City Council seats on the runoff ballot, four incumbent or incumbent-backed candidates won.
District 7 Councilmember Adam Bazaldua defeated former Councilmember Kevin Felder 63.59 percent to 36.41 percent, while District 4 Councilmember Carolyn King Arnold beat Maxie Johnson 54.96 percent to 45.04 percent.
In District 2, Jesse Moreno—backed by outgoing Councilmember Adam Medrano—beat Dr. Sana Syed 57.51 percent to 42.49 percent. In District 11, Jaynie Schultz—endorsed by outgoing Councilmember Lee Kleinman—defeated Dallas Police Association-backed Barry Wernick 53.93 percent to 46.07 percent.
In District 13, Gay Donnell Willis defeated Leland Burk 53.51 percent to 46.49 percent, and in District 14, Councilmember David Blewett was ousted by Paul Ridley 60.58 percent to 39.42 percent.
Citizen outrage over the police overtime cut in 2020 left an impression on Dallas elections this year. Bazaldua and Blewett were forced to flee from their vote to defund police overtime, with Blewett promising to restore full funding and Bazaldua trying to appear as pro-police as possible.
As council members prepare to address what Councilmember Paula Blackmon said would be “a $62 million hole” when writing the next city budget this year, it remains to be seen if the council will cut unnecessary government spending while maximizing public safety.