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North Texas Voters Have City Council, School Board Seats To Decide In Runoff Elections

Christopher Connelly
Polls are set to open at 7 am on Saturday for runoff elections.

Fort Worth, Dallas and Arlington are among a handful of North Texas cities holding runoff elections on Saturday to fill city council and school board seats.

Three races for seats on the Dallas City Council will be decided, and voters on Fort Worth's Northside will decide who will replace one of the city's longest-serving council members.

District 2 in Fort Worth

Retiring Fort Worth City Councilman Sal Espino spent nearly a dozen years representing District 2, which stretches from downtown through the historic Northside and into the city's far north neighborhoods.

The runoff pits aerospace engineer Carlos Flores against retired firefighter Steve Thornton. Flores and Thornton garnered the most votes in an unusually crowded city council race in May. Flores took first place, with Thornton close behind.

Credit Christopher Connelly / KERA News
Carlos Flores and Steve Thornton are vying for an open Fort Worth City Council seat.

Flores has picked up key endorsements in the race from Espino, Mayor Betsy Price, and former mayor Mike Moncrief, among many others.  The Northside-native says his years of serving on city committees and task forces make him the most experienced candidate.

"I have the deepest roots of any candidate running," Flores said. "I have the longest service history of any candidate running. And I want to emphasize that."

Steve Thornton also emphasizes his long ties to the community; he also calls the Northside home. But he says his district needs a city hall outsider to challenge the downtown establishment. He came within spitting distance of a city council seat two years ago when he challenged Espino, eventually falling short.

"What the people are feeling here is that they're being ignored," Thornton said. "And I'm not telling you that the city's ignoring them, but I can't hide the fact that they're feeling ignored."

District 6 in West Dallas

In West Dallas, a challenger is hoping to unseat an incumbent. Omar Narvaez, a trustee for Dallas County Schools, says he's in the race because community members told him they weren't being heard by incumbent Monica Alonzo.

"They felt that they have been underrepresented at city hall and ready for somebody to listen to their concerns and champion those concerns at city hall," Narvaez said. "They saw that through my record of leadership ... that they wanted that kind of proven track record to be the person to and lead them and represent them at City Hall."

Alonzo, who's been on the council since 2011, says she's still the right person to represent West Dallas.

"They felt that they have been underrepresented at city hall."

"It's not just experience, its experience, its leadership, it's getting along. Being able to be a consensus builder, the experience that I have with the colleagues today, to be able to move the items forward," Alonzo said.

Allegations of voter fraud have been an issue in West Dallas. Dozens of voters complained this spring about getting mail-in ballots they had not requested for last month's general election. Dallas County officials are investigating and prosecutors recently issued their first arrest warrant in the voter fraud case.

Other North Texas races

Other Dallas City Council runoffs include District 7 in South Dallas, featuring incumbent Tiffinni Young and Kevin Felder. And in District 8 in southeast Dallas, incumbent Erik Wilson faces Tennell Atkins, his predecessor on the council.

In Arlington, two council races will be settled in Saturday's runoff. In District 3, air traffic controller Marvin Sutton and IT consultant Roxanne Thalman are vying to replace Councilman Robert Rivera, who will step down at the end of his term. In District 5, UT-Arlington student Dakota Loupe is hoping to unseat Councilwoman Lana Wolff.

Polls in Tarrant and Dallas counties open at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Christopher Connelly is a reporter covering issues related to financial instability and poverty for KERA’s One Crisis Away series. In 2015, he joined KERA to report on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. From Fort Worth, he also focused on politics and criminal justice stories.
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.