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Peoples & Parker Head To Fort Worth Mayor Runoff; Dallas Council Incumbents Leading

Christopher Connelly
Deborah Peoples in 2018.

North Texas voters on Saturday decided dozens of races for local elections across the region, including Fort Worth mayor, Fort Worth City Council, Dallas City Council, Arlington mayor and some Arlington City Council seats, as well as a seat for U.S. Congress.

Susan Wright, widow of the late Rep. Ron Wright, will advance to a runoff in the 6th Congressional District special election.

In the Dallas City Council elections, incumbents dominated. Some won their races; others were the top vote-getters, but will head to runoffs.

In Fort Worth, Mattie Parker and Deborah Peoples are advancing to a runoff in the mayor's race.

The Arlington mayor's race also will feature a runoff; Jim Ross led the seven-candidate field, but didn't get enough votes to win outright.

More on what's happening across North Texas below:

Susan Wright in red jacket with American flag scarf speaking to a woman.
Bret Jaspers / KERA News
Susan Wright will head to a runoff in the election to replace her late husband Ron Wright as Texas' 6th Congressional District representative.

6th Congressional District Special Election

Republican Susan Wright was among the top vote-getters in the 6th Congressional District special election and will advance to a runoff. Wright, a Republican, is running to replace her late husband in Congress.

“We’re just gonna keep talking to voters and getting our message out and hear what their interests are, what their priorities are, and talk to them where they are. So we’ll just keep doing what we’ve done,” she said at her election night party in Mansfield.

Jake Ellzey speaks with press at a May 1 election day event.
Bret Jaspers / KERA News
Jake Ellzey is among the candidates leading the pack in the race for Texas' 6th Congressional District. Saturday he held an event in Waxahachie.

The other candidate will either be Republican State Rep. Jake Ellzey or Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez. With all precincts reporting, Ellzey led Sanchez by 354 votes, with absentee, military and overseas ballots still to be counted.

Wright, a GOP activist, moved on with the backing of President Donald Trump, who waited until this past week to formally make an endorsementin a crowded field of 23 candidates.

Wright’s late husband, Rep. Ron Wright, died in February after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He was 67 and had also been battling lung cancer.

A runoff happens when no candidate wins a majority of the votes. The date of the runoff has not yet been announced.

Election Results For The 6th Congressional District

Dallas City Council

All 14 city council seats were contested with a total of 56 candidates vying for a chance to help shape policy at City Hall.

Every incumbent on the ballot either won their city council race outright or will advance to a runoff next month.

Tennell Atkins, the incumbent for District 8 in South Dallas, won by a wide margin. He's served half a dozen terms on the city council.

"The incumbents there who work hard, who understand their voters and their voters understand them and they doing what's right and they relate it to the voters," Atkins said.

Atkins says he wants to keep momentum for the City of Dallas going and having colleagues on the council who he's worked with before will make that process smoother.

Andrea Silva, an assistant professor of political science at the University of North Texas, says incumbents are hard to beat.

"People recognize your name. You can show people things that you've done for them in the position that you are running for reelection," Silva said. "You actually have the ability to say 'I have experience here.'"

Among other Dallas council incumbents who won: District 1’s Chad West; District 3’s Casey Thomas; District 5’s Jaime Resendez; District 6’s Omar Narvaez; District 9’s Paula Blackmon; District 10’s Adam McGough; and District 12’s Cara Mendelsohn.

In District 4, incumbent Carolyn King Arnold was in the lead, but didn't have enough votes to win outright; she'll head to a runoff with Maxie Johnson. In District 7, incumbent Adam Bazaldua will advance to a runoff, most likely with Kevin Felder, a former council member.

The only incumbent who wasn’t in the lead: District 14’s David Blewett. He’ll face Paul Ridley in a runoff.

There will be runoffs in districts where incumbents weren’t running. That includes District 2 with Jesse Moreno and Sana Syed; District 11 with Barry Wernick and Jaynie Schultz; and District 13 with Leland Burk and Gay Donnell Willis.

City Of Dallas Ballot Propositions

Voters in Dallas defeated two propositions that would have allowed non-U.S. citizens can serve on certain city advisory boards.

The city has more than 50 advisory boards and commissions, but some require members to be registered or qualified voters.

Those who serve on the Dallas Civil Service Board must be qualified, taxpaying citizens.

These restrictions amount to a U.S. citizenship requirement to serve on the park board, city plan commission, redistricting commission and civil service board.

Get Full Dallas County Election Results

Elections In Fort Worth

Deborah Peoples and Mattie Parker are headed to a runoff to become Fort Worth Mayor.

Peoples, chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, ran an unsuccessful campaign in 2019 against outgoing mayor Betsy Price. Now, she’ll face off against Parker, who served as Price’s chief of staff.

The field for mayor was crowded with 10 candidates. No one managed to break 50% of the vote, triggering the runoff between the top two vote-getters.

Peoples said that her strategy of connecting with voters can carry her to the mayor’s seat.

Keren Carrion / KERA News
Deborah Peoples speaks with KERA News during the installation of Fort Worth's "End Racism Now" mural.

"That is what I do best," she said. "I am here to listen and learn and find out things. So I don't plan to do anything differently than I've done."

Parker said one of her goals for the next month is to make sure people show up to vote for her again.

"At this point, we know voter turnout is critical,” she said. “I'm really proud of Fort Worth for showing up in a historic way this election, but now we gotta do it again for June 5th."

Both candidates say they'll also be working to attract voters who cast their ballot for other candidates.

On The Ballot In Arlington

The Arlington mayor’s race will head to a runoff.

The leading candidate, Jim Ross, had just under 50 percent of the vote. He’ll face Michael Glaspie.

Ross is a lawyer and restaurant owner who has the backing of most of the city's former mayors and the city’s police unions. Glaspie’s a former city council member and Arlington school board member, and one former mayor is backing him.

The race featured seven candidates. Mayor Jeff Williams couldn’t run again due to term limits.

On the Arlington City Council, the race for District 3 will head to a runoff with the two leading candidates – Diana Saleh and Nikkie Hunter – each getting around 30% of votes. Andrew Piel in District 4, Rebecca Boxall in District 5 and Barbara Odom-Wesley in District 8 all defeated their opponents.

Other Spring 2021 Tarrant County Races

For the Tarrant County College District Board of Trustees, Teresa Ayala, Shannon Wood and Jeannie Deakyne had big leads in their races. District 5 remained close, with Sherry McCullouch heading to a runoff and just 13 votes separating Leonard Hornsby and Christi Clanton.

Get Full Tarrant County Election Results

Get Full Collin County Election Results

Get Full Denton County Election Results

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Gabrielle Jones has a passion for serving diverse audiences. She is the Audience Editor at KERA in Dallas, Texas.
Bret Jaspers is a reporter for KERA. His stories have aired nationally on the BBC, NPR’s newsmagazines, and APM’s Marketplace. He collaborated on the series Cash Flows, which won a 2020 Sigma Delta Chi award for Radio Investigative Reporting. He's a member of Actors' Equity, the professional stage actors union.
Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Tarrant County accountability reporter. Before coming to North Texas, she was the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio, where she covered statewide news from the capital city of Madison. Miranda is originally from Massachusetts and started her public radio career at WBUR in Boston.
Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.