Texas Democrats are again trying to do locally what they can’t at the state level: win elections. For a fourth year, the Texas Democratic Party is working to elect its candidates in nominally non-partisan city and school board races.

Shut out of statewide office for over 20 years – the longest losing streak for Democrats in any state – and with a minority of seats in both chambers of the Texas Legislature since 2003, the TDP concocted Project LIFT (Local Investment in the Future of Texas) in 2015 to focus its resources on local elections.

“Project LIFT works with local party leaders and progressive partners to recruit, train, and support candidates,” according to the TDP website, “with a special focus on winning local, non-partisan races.”

Local elections are important to taxpayers, because city and school officials control your property tax bill. Local elected officials set your tax rates based on known property values; that determines how much you pay. They also decide how much taxpayer money to borrow and spend – which ultimately drives tax increases.

This year, the TDP endorsed eight “progressive” local candidates in the May 5 local elections. Three are in Pearland. Five are running for Metroplex-area city council seats:

  • Euless City Council, Place 6 – Salman Bhojani
  • Frisco City Council – K.D. Warach
  • Hurst City Council, Place 7 – Cindy Shepard
  • Mesquite City Council, Place 4 – Shannon Long
  • Sachse City Council – Ammar Qashshu

Last May, Texas Democrats endorsed more than 30 local Project LIFT candidates statewide; most lost.

This year, Democrats may have an even harder time. Republicans are no longer stuck on the sidelines in local races.

RPT Chairman James Dickey noted in a report on the April 6 State Republican Executive Committee meeting that “RPT staff and resources can be used to support identifiable Republicans running against Democrats in municipal elections.” Dickey told Texas Scorecard that plans are in the works to do just that.

Texans For Fiscal Responsibility has endorsed seven candidates in Metroplex-area local races on the ballot in May:

  • Colleyville City Council, Place 5 – Chuck Kelley
  • Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Place 1 – Tim Raine
  • Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Place 2 – Amy Putnam
  • Lucas City Council, Place 3 – Steve Duke
  • Parker City Council, At Large – Terry Lynch
  • Prosper Town Council, Place 2 – Christopher Kern
  • Wylie City Council, Place 2 – Matthew Porter

Election Day for local elections across the state is Saturday, May 5. Early voting starts April 23.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.