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Low Turnout Expected For Fort Worth's District 2 Race

By Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 reporter

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-468257.mp3

Low Turnout Expected For Fort Worth's District 2 Race

Dallas, TX –

Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 reporter: The 2nd is one of Fort Worth's fastest growing, and most economically significant districts. For 12 years, it's been represented by respected councilman Jim Lane, who decided to step down. He's endorsed Sal Espino, a 37-year-old attorney, churchgoing father of three, and Fort Worth native. Joining some campaign workers at Aguillera's Caf for lunch, he says he's running to give something back to the community.

Salvador Espino, District 2 Candidate: I think it's important for people who want to make a positive contribution to the electoral process. Too often people critique our city officials, but then we don't participate, either by voting or serving on boards or commissions, or even by being candidates.

Zeeble: Espino has done all three. He ran but lost to Jim Lane two years ago, but he's also served - at Lane's request - on the city's building standards, plan, and civil service commissions. He's President of the Latin Arts Association, is involved in the construction of his church's new major addition, and leads his neighborhood association. As a candidate, his top priorities include infrastructure and economic development.

Espino: We've got to maintain our streets roads and parks, we've got to make sure we have enough police and fire stations in the far north. Inside Loop 820, we're seeing an increase in gang violence, so public safety is important. That's part of the infrastructure.

Zeeble: Espino backs citizen patrols and crime watch programs, and if elected he'd create an advisory committee to study economic growth. His opponent, Larry Stevens, a senior researcher with Alcon Labs, not only says the same, but adds he's already been involved with such groups, for more than 20 years.

Larry Stevens, District 2 Candidate: I'm campaigning on things I've actually done. I've been involved in gang intervention. I've been involved in community development, been involved in multiple neighborhood groups, really trying to make a difference, and we have.

Zeeble: Stevens says he organized different churches and multi-racial and ethnic community groups to launch a ministry at the Butler Housing project years ago, and worked successfully with diverse groups to limit and stop sexually-oriented businesses. Stevens, like Espino, says he just wants to help the community, while saying his opponent really has other motives.

Stevens: I'm not campaigning on things I'd like to do before running for Congress.

Zeeble: Espino says he's not running for Congress, and only wants to serve the district. But former Fort Worth School District trustee and District 2 resident Rose Herrera is not impressed by either candidate. As a 12-year school board member, she represented many District 2 residents, and doesn't think the candidates really know the concerns and issues of those who live there.

Rose Herrera, District 2 Resident: Just because you live in the area doesn't mean you know the community, unless you venture out to know your community. I just don't feel comfortable with either individual, and probably won't participate in this at all. That's unfortunate.

Zeeble: Even outgoing council member Jim Lane's endorsement of Mr. Espino won't change her mind, although Herrera praises Lane's council service. While many may consider Lane's endorsement significant, TCU political science professor Jim Riddlesperger isn't so sure.

Jim Riddlesperger, TCU Political Science Chair: It's hard to judge endorsements. The most you can say is some endorsements make some difference some of the time. Since Mr. Lane is important and popular in his district, it might be of some marginal assistance to Espino. But it's hard to guess if that would be decisive - or not.

Zeeble: But in this race, featuring two former council candidates, Riddlesperger's making no predictions. Turnout's expected to be low because he says there are no burning ballot issues. In similar elections, roughly 15-hundred votes were cast district-wide. Early voting starts next Wednesday. Election Day's May 7th. For KERA 90.1, I'm Bill Zeeble.

 

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