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Politics

Mattie Parker & Fort Worth Make History: She'll Be Youngest Mayor Of A Top-25 U.S. City

Mattie Parker smiling at election night event.
Bret Jaspers
/
KERA News
Mattie Parker after her election-night victory speech at Lola’s in Fort Worth.

Parker, who'll be sworn in June 15, runs an education nonprofit and was longtime chief of staff to the woman she'll replace, Mayor Betsy Price. Her opponent, Deborah Peoples, would've also made history if elected, as the city's first Black mayor.

Just minutes after Deborah Peoples conceded the race for Fort Worth mayor, Mattie Parker declared victory.

“Fort Worth, you have just elected the youngest mayor to lead a big city in the United States of America." Parker said. "What a tremendous opportunity for my generation to take the torch, but with respect and appreciate for all the leaders before us.”

At 37, Parker will be the city’s first millennial mayor and the youngest among the nation's 25 biggest cities. (Fort Worth is still celebrating new census numbers that placed it at No. 12.) Just before midnight Saturday, Parker was leading with 53% of Tarrant County ballots.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports more early voters cast ballots in this race than have in a decade.

Mayoral races in Tarrant County's two biggest cities were the marquee matchups of runoff election day in North Texas. KERA will bring you results from these and other key local races throughout the weekend.

“There are a lot of things we’re going to tackle in the coming years,” Parker said Saturday, and she mentioned three priorities in her victory speech.

“Number one is bringing our city together. In Fort Worth, we’re going to embrace positive policies and consensus building with ferocity,” she said. “How we handle the most critical issues facing Fort Worth: being one of the fastest growing cities; redistricting; tackling education, affordable housing, public transportation, I could go on.”

Number two was business growth and innovation. Number three was inspiring the next generation of young leaders.

After her speech, Parker talked KERA about goals for her first six months in office. On her list was putting a "laser focus" on the economy.

“The first thing we’ve gotta do is sit down with our city management team, our department heads and and understand where our budget is. Now is the time to strike," Parker said. “We understand everybody around the country is pivoting to understand what does it look like to be different after COVID-19 is over. I think Fort Worth is well-positioned to take hold and have a booming economy.”

In her speech Saturday, Parker commended Peoples for their time on the campaign trail together.

"Over the course of the last few months, Deborah and I probably did 30 debates and candidate forums together," Parker said. "While we might not agree on every issue, I appreciate Deborah’s vision and her experience."

Peoples took the stage to concede at her event in Fort Worth around 9:30 p.m.

"It was about bringing together all of our neighborhoods. And we were making sure that we included everyone — no matter your race, no matter your ethnicity, no matter your religion, no matter your sexuality. We did that," she told the crowd. "We have sent a clear message to those who did not want to include us. They now know we are a force to be reckoned with."

That line was met with huge applause.

Deborah peoples hugging attended at her election night party.
Miranda Suarez
Deborah Peoples (right) gave lots hugs to supporters as she left her election night event.

Peoples is the outgoing chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party and a former AT&T executive. Her watch party at The Post at River East was upbeat and full of energy, with a band that almost never stopped grooving.

On her way out of the event, Peoples told reporters she will still be around, fighting for neighborhood representation and making sure all residents' voices are heard.

"Of course I would have liked to have been mayor of this city," she said of her second run for the office. "But I know I'm not gonna stop fighting. I'm gonna get up tomorrow and keep going. And I am just proud of what we've done."

Fort Worth’s longest-serving mayor, Betsy Price, announced in January she would not seek reelection. The race to replace her was initially a crowded one, with 10 people running in the May 1 election.

Price congratulated Parker Saturday evening.

"Mattie undoubtedly has the heart for service and the head for policy that we need leading Fort Worth during this time of rapid growth and change", Price said in a statement. "The new voice and fresh perspective Mattie brings to the table will be invaluable on the Fort Worth City Council."

Price will officially hand the reigns to Parker at a swearing-in ceremony on June 15.

Got a tip? Email Gabrielle Jones at gjones@kera.org, Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.org or Bret Jaspers at bjaspers@kera.org.

You can follow Gabrielle on Twitter @gabrielleNjones, Miranda @MirandaRSuarez and Bret @bretjaspers.

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