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Voters Elect New Mayors, Decide Local Elections

Voters elected business executive Mike Rawlings as new Dallas mayor.

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

Dallas, TX – Financial accountability and economic development were key themes marking the campaigns of mayors who will take office in Dallas, Fort Worth and Irving.

Former Pizza Hut Executive Mike Rawlings defeated former Police Chief David Kunkle 56 to 44 percent with promises to use his business know-how to attract companies and grow the Dallas tax-base.

Rawlings cited stints as Dallas Homeless Czar; Chair of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau; and President of the Dallas Park Board as examples of his many years of civic service. He pledged to organize volunteers in a program to support public schools and to maintain police staffing though the city faces a budget gap.

Kunkle, 60, stressed neighborhood services over big-ticket projects and entered the election as a respected former police chief with high name recognition. But Kunkle couldn't financially compete with the big-dollar media campaign that enabled Rawlings to hire savvy consultants, air television ads and bombard voters with direct mail.

Rawlings, 56, raised some $2.2 million for the campaign compared to about $250,000 that Kunkle raised.

The five-way contest for Fort Worth Mayor came down to a run-off race between two long-time civic leaders with political experience.

Former Tarrant County Tax Assessor Betsy Price, 61, outpaced Former City Councilmember Jim Lane 56 to 44 percent. Price promised to limit spending and apply budget efficiencies adopted at the county.

Price and Lane both said they'd reconsider the city drilling ordinance to ensure adequate safety measures in neighborhoods and they promised to provide city support for the financially strapped school system.

Although the Fort Worth Mayor's job pays just $29,000 Price said she'd be a full-time mayor. Lane said being mayor would be a full-time commitment but he'd continue working as an attorney, too.

In Irving, former councilmember and marketing consultant Beth Van Duyne steamrolled incumbent Mayor Herbert Gears 57 to 43 percent. The two candidates spent nearly $850,000 on television attack ads and traded personal accusations.

The centerpiece of Van Duyne's campaign was Irving's new entertainment center. She blamed Gears for mismanaging center financing and has promised an audit.

In other North Texas elections 56 percent of Keller voters defeated a 13-cent increase in the school district tax rate .

Former Dallas Councilmember Sandy Greyson defeated Tea Party opponent Donna Starnes 55 to 45 percent. Greyson will once again hold the District 12 seat she had to give up because of term limits.

In Arlington City Council District Five incumbent Lana Wolff edged out challenger Chris Hightower 52-48 after an election evening in which the lead shifted back and forth.

To hear excerpts from victory speeches by Rawlings, Price and Van Duyne click on the audio bar at the top of the page.