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Dallas Council Vote: Hispanics Hope To Hold Status Quo; Fewer Women On Council

BJ Austin
Scott Griggs (c) with supporters at his election watch party checks his laptop for the latest vote count.

After Saturday’s election, Hispanic representation on the Dallas City Council could take a step back at a time when the Latino population is growing. And, there will also be fewer women on the council. 

In District 1, north and central Oak Cliff, redistricting pitted incumbents Scott Griggs and Delia Jasso. Griggs says his message of strong neighborhoods, quality of life and transparency in government resonated with voters. And he says his criticism of the city’s gas drilling lease with Trinity East Energy won some votes.

“We don’t want that to be the way things are done, where there’s side agreements that are kept secret. That’s just not good government," Griggs said. "People see me as an independent voice. I’m not a rubber stamp.”

Linda Coleman, a constituent of Delia Jasso says she was heartsick when the incumbents were put in the same district.

“Delia’s been really wonderful working with neighborhood,” Coleman noted. But she chose Griggs.  

“You know, we’re looking at some larger issues and I want somebody who will stand up to the power structure of Dallas for the people,” Coleman explained.

Monica Alonzo was overwhelming re-elected to represent West Dallas, and Adam Medrano, former Dallas School Board member, will take his aunt, Pauline Medrano’s place on the city council. 

But, Hispanic representation could shrink from three to two seats if longtime community activist Jesse Diaz fails to win a runoff in the new Pleasant Grove District. It was drawn to create a strong opportunity for Latino representation. But Diaz narrowly trails former Southeast Dallas Chamber of Commerce leader Rick Callahan.

Delia Jasso’s defeat not only ended hopes of an additional Hispanic council seat, it also means four fewer women on the council: three leaving because of term limits. Women did hold onto the seat in District 13. Jennifer Staubach Gates handily won the most expensive of the council races.  She’ll concentrate on the basics: public safety, parks and streets.

“Our streets have the lowest satisfactory rating of all 14 districts, so I’d like to see that improvement," Gates said. "My strengths are as a consensus builder and I’m available to get things done.”

Lee Kleinman replaces council lwoman Linda Koop, and a runoff between Philip Kingston and Bobby Abtahi will decide Angela Hunt’s successor in District 14.

Five newcomers will join the 2013 Dallas City Council after the June 15th runoff.  

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.