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Across North Texas, Voters Approve City, School Bonds And Re-Elect Familiar Faces

KC Ivey
Flickr Creative Commons

Voters on Saturday overwhelmingly approved major city and school bond packages and re-elected some familiar faces in North Texas municipal elections. Here are some key races:

Frisco ISD approves bond package

Frisco ISD opens three to five schools a year. So school board president Renee Ehmke was relieved when voters said yes to more than three quarters of a billion dollars in bonds Saturday.

“I would have been happy with 51 percent, but I think 77 percent sends really a strong message that we value our schools,” she said. “We don’t want that changed and we certainly don’t want people from outside telling us to change it.”

The package includes plans for 14 new schools, building renovations and technology upgrades. Ehmke says she didn’t appreciate that some critics of the bond program live in other parts of the state.

“You’ve got people who do not have a vested interest in what’s best for Frisco coming in to tell our residents what’s best for Frisco,” Ehmke said.  

The spending proposal was planned before Toyota announced it’s moving its headquarters to nearby Plano. Ehmke says she thinks a lot of Toyota’s employees and their families could move to Frisco. The district has about 47,000 students now. The new schools will boost that number to about 66,000 kids. Ehmke says the advantage of more schools is keeping that growth manageable.

“The smaller school model is such the core of who we are, so to not be able to continue that would have really been devastating for us as a district and a community,” she said.

Arlington and Fort Worth support bond packages  

Voters in other cities also decisively passed spending plans. Arlington gets $663 million for schools -- that's the biggest bond package ever in Tarrant County. And Fort Worth OKed $292 million in city bonds. 

In Dallas ISD, a runoff

On the Dallas school board, Miguel Solis gets to keep his District 8 seat. In District 6 – Carla Ranger’s seat – Joyce Foreman and Bertha Bailey Whatley are headed for a June 21st runoff.   

Irving mayor keeps her seat

In Irving, Mayor Beth Van Duyne handily defeated longtime rival Herb Gears -- and pointed to recent developments there as reasons why.

"The fifth safest city, the sixth fastest growing city, increasing your tax base from $16.5 billion to $18 billion, bringing in 10,000 new jobs -- those are all positive things,” she said. “I think the voters recognize that we’re moving in the right direction and they want to support that.” 

Van Duyne previously defeated Gears twice – first in a 2004 council race and again when he was mayor in 2011. Gears ran this time on a platform to cut taxes for seniors, which Van Duyne says didn’t work.

“Voters are not single-issue in general,” she said.

In Wilmer, every vote counts  

And for those who scoff when people say every vote counts, the small Dallas County town of Wilmer proved it. Casey Burgess defeated incumbent Mayor A. Hector Casarez by just three votes.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.