The Dallas mayor’s race is heading to a runoff after no one was able to get a majority of the votes, while the Fort Worth mayor won re-election.
In Dallas, the June 8 runoff will feature the top two vote-getters: State Rep. Eric Johnson, who had 20% of the vote, and City Council member Scott Griggs, who had 18%.
Nine people were running to replace Mayor Mike Rawlings, who is term-limited.
“At this point, things look good,” Johnson told supporters Saturday night. “I’m very, very pleased with how this has turned out and I’m very pleased with all of the work that all of us who work on this campaign have done.”
Griggs celebrated his second-place finish with supporters.
“I think our message is going to continue to resonate – about accountability and transparency, safe, strong neighborhoods,” Griggs said. “And the essentials: high wages for our police officers and firefighters, taking care of our streets our parks, our rec centers.”
Other top vote-getters included Lynn McBee, CEO of an education nonprofit, in third with 14%, and developer Mike Ablon in fourth with 13%.
— BILL ZEEBLE (@bzeeble) May 5, 2019
— BILL ZEEBLE (@bzeeble) May 5, 2019
In the Fort Worth mayor's race, incumbent Betsy Price declared victory. Price, who's been mayor since 2011, will enter a fifth term. Price won with 56% of the vote. Her main challenger, Deborah Peoples, had 42%. James McBride had 2%.
“She ran a great race,” Price said of Peoples during a victory speech at Michael’s Cuisine, where she hosted a watch party packed with supporters.
“Ours was better,” she quipped to cheers.
Not all Fort Worth City Council members faced challengers, but all council members retained their seats, despite an effort by progressive groups to upset the status quo.
“I think it sends the message that the city’s on the right track," Price said. "We’re healthier, better educated and safer than we were eight years ago and this council’s worked hard on that."
— Christopher Connelly (@hithisischris) May 5, 2019
In the Arlington mayor’s race, incumbent Jeff Williams had a commanding lead over opponents Chris Dobson, Ashton Stauffer and Ruby Faye Woolridge. Williams won with 59% of the vote.
“This is a place that’s welcoming,” Williams said at his victory speech, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “This is a place that’s making a difference. This is a place that’s moving ahead — not declining.”
— Bud Kennedy / #ReadLocal (@BudKennedy) May 5, 2019
Turnout across North Texas was expected to be low. But voter turnout in Dallas was expected to be 10%, higher than what’s typical for municipal elections, thanks in large part to the mayoral race.
Many political observers have had their eyes on Dallas City Council’s District 13. In northern Dallas, incumbent Jennifer Staubach Gates faced a prominent challenger: Laura Miller, a former mayor. Gates had a significant lead over Miller throughout the evening – 66% to 34%.
In southern Dallas, District 3 incumbent Casey Thomas had a commanding lead – about 70% – despite facing four opponents.
Several other incumbents had big leads late Saturday: District 2 incumbent Adam Medrano, District 6 incumbent Omar Narvaez, District 8 incumbent Tennell Atkins, District 10 incumbent Adam McGough and District 11 incumbent Lee Kleinman.
In District 14, incumbent Philip Kingston appears headed to a runoff with David Blewett. Kingston had 40% of the vote, while Blewett had 48%.
And in District 7, incumbent Kevin Felder was trailing three other candidates. Felder generated headlines earlier this year after he was accused of hitting someone on a scooter and leaving the scene. He has said he's innocent. A runoff will likely feature Adam Bazaldua and Tiffinni Young, who once represented District 7 on the council. The District 7 race featured nine candidates.
Saturday’s municipal elections featured several school district races and bond packages.
In the Fort Worth school district, board president Tobi Jackson was re-elected to District 2 by a wide margin. Jackson plans to focus on boosting student achievement – and fostering unity as new members join the school board. They include Quinton “Q” Phillips in District 3, Carin “CJ” Evans in District 5, and Anne Darr in District 6.
“I look forward to serving on the Fort Worth ISD school board because education and the process of educating are two of my great passions,” Darr told KERA. “Throughout my campaign, I have focused on the importance of creating school climates where teachers want to teach and students want to learn.”
In the Dallas school district, there will be a runoff election in District 4. No one got more than half the votes. The top two vote-getters were Karla Garcia with Dallas County Promise and real estate agent Camile White.
The Dallas board will have newcomers, including District 5’s Maxie Johnson, a pastor, and District 7’s Ben Mackey, a former Dallas school principal.
Elsewhere in North Texas, voters in Prosper ISD approved a massive $1.3 billion bond package for the fast-growing school district that serves parts of Collin and Denton counties. The proposition passed with more than 80 percent support. The district, home to about 14,000 students, says more than five times as many students are enrolled now compared to about a decade ago -- and officials say enrollment is projected to more than double by 2025. The bond money would build up to 17 schools, as well as buy buses and enhance security and technology and other campus improvements.
Dallas County voters approved $1.1 billion in bonds for community college district improvements. Late Saturday night, more than 70% were in favor of the proposition.
At least one bond package didn't pass. In Collin County, the Allen school district's $423 million bond election was failing. The proposal would have paid for technology, including mobile devices, as well as school buses and campus upgrades.
In other election matters, Garland voters approved $420 million in bonds to pay for city facilities and infrastructure. The propositions had strong support from voters.
» Tarrant County results
» Dallas County results
» Collin County results
» Denton County results
» Rockwall County results
Leading up to Election Day, professional political watchers said there was no clear frontrunner among the nine Dallas mayoral candidates— making the race wide open. Campaigns raised more than $4 million.
Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, says it will be next to impossible for any candidate to get a majority of the votes in the first round.
"This is the first mayor's race that I can recall that has eight, 10 people, half of whom could make the runoff. But among the top five or six, it's hard to say which two end up in the runoff," Jillson said.
He points out one sign of the lack of a clear front runner: The Dallas Citizens Council, a powerful group of business leaders, announced it would not endorse a candidate. Jillson says some Citizens Council members, however, have independently backed someone. He figured they would pick builder-developer Mike Ablon – instead, they picked Eric Johnson.
"That is unusual," Jillson said. "The idea behind that endorsement and the money that came with it is fairly unclear."
At several mayoral forums around the city, Dallas’ mayoral candidates have debated how much the city should spend on arts, how to improve lives for people of color, how the city should be involved in public education and how to tackle the growing issue of homelessness — and those were just some of the issues.
Mayor Betsy Price is running as a steady hand to steer the fast-growing city into the future. Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Deborah Peoples says she’s the change agent that residents far from the city’s halls of power need to make Fort Worth work for them.
This is Price’s fourth re-election bid since she became mayor, and she says she’s focused on addressing the city’s most pressing issues as it sprints toward a million residents.
“Transportation, infrastructure, and education. It’s really those three big items,” Price says. “The growth that we’re having is phenomenal, and the ability to manage that growth while still keeping the quality of life and affordability here is what this council and my office have done very well.”
Talking to Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price just after the polls closed in Tarrant County. She’s seeking her 5th term as mayor. Tune in at 9pm for election results. #ElectionDay #FortWorth #KDFW #FOX4 pic.twitter.com/iLO73Dso6D
— Macy Jenkins (@MacyJJenkins) May 5, 2019
Peoples says she hears from a lot of residents who feel like City Hall just doesn’t listen to them, at least not the way it listens to moneyed interests.
“We now have a changing, diverse population that’s not going to accept this old patriarchal view of ‘I’m going to make decisions because I know what’s best for you,’” Peoples says. “No, we have a bright, intelligent, growing community and they want a leadership that is responsive to them and that’s going to listen to them.”
“I can’t promise you we will win tonight, but I promise you that Betsy Price isn’t sleeping well right now.” pic.twitter.com/B9WbbQaZIu
— Kaley (@KaleyAJohnson) May 4, 2019
We'll update this story as election results come in. KERA’s Christy Robinson contributed to this report.