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Herring, Martinez to face off in runoff for District 11 council seat

Election signs advertising many different candidates for city offices crowd a grassy hillside along a road in Fort Worth.
Matthew Sgroi and Cristian ArguetaSoto
/
Fort Worth Report
Rick Herring and Jeanette Martinez will compete in a June runoff for District 11.

Follow the Fort Worth Report for full coverage of local elections.

The question of who will represent the newly created District 11 won’t be answered until June, as none of the five candidates were able to secure a majority of the vote on Saturday, May 6.

Jeanette Martinez and Rick Herring will face off for a second time on June 10 to determine the winner of the race. With 127 of 169 precincts reporting, Martinez got 36.63% of the vote and Herring had 34.41%, the two highest totals among the candidates, according to unofficial voting results.

“With five candidates, I think everyone expected a runoff,” Herring, who hosted a watch party at La Rueda, said. “I know all of us would have hoped to avoid a runoff, but that seemed sort of unlikely.”

Martinez echoed Herring’s thoughts.

“We thought there was going to be a runoff just because of how many Latinos were in the race,” she said. “So we’re going to be focused on raising more money so we can get canvassers out and just get a stronger team ready for this next election.”

Tara Maldonaldo-Wilson (17%), Christopher Johnson (6%) and Ricardo Avitia (5.6%) will not move on to the runoff.

The new nature of District 11 made it one of the most contested races in Fort Worth this cycle. Voters approved expanding the Fort Worth City Council in 2016, which led to the creation of Districts 10 and 11 through redistricting in 2022.

District 11 was designed as a Hispanic opportunity district, with the hopes of securing more diverse representation on the City Council. Approximately 63% of the district’s residents are Hispanic. It includes parts of east Fort Worth and an arm that extends into south-central Fort Worth, colloquially referred to as a “horseshoe.”’

Martinez, who speaks Spanish and English, said she thinks it’s vital that a bilingual candidate represents District 11 in order to represent the large Hispanic Spanish-speaking population. Herring, who does not speak Spanish, said he is committed to hiring a district director who speaks Spanish to help bridge the gap between himself and constituents who only speak Spanish.

Mayor Mattie Parker previously told council members that she hoped the District 11 seat would go to someone who matches the demographics of the district.

“I think you’re going to see a fellow Hispanic member of this community sitting alongside us in our new City Hall a year from now,” Parker said at a March 23 meeting approving the final map. “And I hope it is a female, a Latina, to represent this new district.”

Whether Parker’s prediction will be accurate remains to be seen. If Martinez is elected in the June runoff, she will join District 2’s Carlos Flores as the only Hispanic members on the City Council.

Herring said the district needs someone who can take office and hit the ground running come June, and he feels he’s the right person for the job.

“There are some very critical issues, like the update to the comprehensive plan, which is sort of a hot potato, with the Echo Heights community and all their issues,” he said. “And then we’re also going right into budget preparation for 2024. So it’s going to be very intensive to deal with that.”

Martinez said her top two priorities are providing safe neighborhoods and improving infrastructure in the district.

“And also understanding that there are bigger issues that we need to definitely help in any way we can as far as our homelessness and mental health needs,” she said.

Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at emily.wolf@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.