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Arlington Mayor Jim Ross wins reelection; voters approve millions in bond funding for streets, parks

Amy Cearnal, left, wears a sapphire blue top and hoop earings. She has shoulder length blonde hair and poses in front of a blurred background. To her right, in a separate photo, Mayor Jim Ross wears a dark blue suit with a dark blue tie and a white shirt. Cearnal, a realtor and business owner, and Ross, a business owner and attorney, filed in the mayor race May 6, 2023.
Amy Cearnal/Jim Ross
Arlington Mayor Jim Ross won reelection after defeating challenger Amy Cearnal in a close election.

Incumbent Jim Ross won his second mayoral term over first-time challenger Amy Cearnal, in a close election that focused on continuing Arlington’s growth and economic development.

Ross, a business owner and attorney, received 9,059 votes (51.85%) to realtor and business owner Cearnal’s 8,413 votes (48.15%).

The victors in Arlington’s spring municipal elections will mark the first class of council members who serve three years per term instead of two under a proposition that voters overwhelmingly passed in November.

Amy Cearnal’s campaign got a boost in donations last month. Most of that money came from two donors.

John Moritz donated a total of $50,000 to Cearnal’s campaign, half on March 29 and half April 12. The address for Moritz listed on Cearnal’s campaign finance report is for Dollar Car Sales, a used car dealership in Arlington.

Gerald H. Stool also donated a total of $50,000 to the campaign on March 31 and April 17. Stool is the founding principal of Dallas-based real estate firm Alamo Manhattan, according to his LinkedIn page.

Both candidates’ races centered on the billions in projects in the works, especially in Arlington’s entertainment district. The area that primarily draws people to sports and concerts will welcome a bevy of gathering spaces and arts venues next year. Arlington Museum of Art inked a deal with the city in early April to move into the Arlington Esports Stadium and Expo Center in early 2024. Meanwhile, the National Medal of Honor Museum is scheduled to open in later 2024, as well as the 888-room Loews Hotel and convention center and the luxury apartment complex One Rangers Way.

Cearnal ran on making sure that all parts of the city, not just the entertainment district, saw some of the economic growth. Ross ran on continued job creation goals, seeing projects through the end and closing deals on new undertakings.

She also ran to give voters a choice, after seeing Ross would likely not have an opponent. She previously told KERA News that an unopposed election would have shortchanged voters.

“We need to make sure that we’re always keeping government in check and making sure that everything is running as smoothly as it can,” Cearnal said.

Ross, who used much of the same platform that won him his first term, campaigned heavily on education, job creation and equity. He promoted the work of his Mayor’s Education Coalition, a group of leaders from public and private education entities, to identify issues facing education access.

Equity issues shadowed both citywide council elections for mayor and District 8 city council.

Ross surmised that he had an opponent because he continued the Pride month proclamations that his predecessor, Jeff Williams, initiated. The administrative nod triggered outspoken anti-LGBTQ speakers, whose criticism spilled over to Pride month displays in Arlington Public Libraries and so-called pornography in graphic novels.

“I know that there has been a small contingent of people in Arlington that do not agree with my position on inclusivity. I’m OK with that,” Ross previously told KERA News. “I believe that’s what makes democracy great (is that) we can disagree.”

Cearnal did not commit to continuing Pride month proclamations if elected, and instead pointed towards elections being nonpartisan.

In Arlington’s at-large District 8 Council Race, two-term incumbent Barbara Odom-Wesley won a third and final term with 60% of the vote (10,118) against incumbent David Mosby (6,763 votes). Mosby, a business owner, ran on whittling down expenses and recently created positions for the sake of frugally using taxpayer dollars.

Other races:

  • District 3: Incumbent Nikkie Hunter won her second term with 58.31% (1,533 votes) against Marvin Sutton's 1,096 votes (41.69%).
  • District 4: Incumbent Andrew Piel won a third and final term (77.43%, 4,004 votes) against Chris “Dobi” Dobson's 1,167 votes (22.57%). 
  • District 5: Incumbent Rebecca Boxall ran unopposed. 
  • District 8: Incumbent Barbara Odom-Wesley won with 59.94% of the vote.

Bond election results:

  • Proposition A ($219.5 million for street improvements): 68.89% yes, 31.11% no. 
  • Proposition B ($24.65 million for parks and recreation projects): 63.02% yes, 36.98% no. 
  • Proposition C ($30.1 million for Fire Station No. 18, north police substation, other public safety projects): 70.68% yes, 29.32% no.
  • Proposition D ($3 million for city building repairs): 50.03% yes, 49.97% no. 
  • Proposition E ($1.1 million for library building repairs: 63.91% yes, 36.09% no.

This report includes information by KERA reporter Caroline Love.

Kailey Broussard is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). Broussard covers the city of Arlington, with a focus on local and county government accountability.