Light turnout in early voting in Zadeh, Lasater District 9 runoff

Scott Nishimura

Light turnout of 1,210 people voted early ahead of Saturday’s Fort Worth City Council runoff election between Ann Zadeh and Ed Lasater, with their home precincts showing the heaviest turnout, according to Tarrant County elections figures.

Overall, the historically key precincts of Berkeley, TCU and Park Hill, Mistletoe Heights, Ryan Place, and Fairmount were showing the strongest voting. Other areas where voters were turning out: the emerging downtown and West Seventh corridor; Oakhurst, new to the district; and some precincts south of Berry Street, where both campaigns have been making a push.

Lasater’s Berkeley-Paschal precinct of 1108 and Zadeh’s TCU-area precinct 1298 posted the top two vote totals of 121 and 107, respectively.

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Both candidates said in interviews their campaigns were down to turning out voters they’ve identified as theirs.

“I’m just campaigning and going out and knocking on doors and asking people to go vote,” said Zadeh, a former Fort Worth Zoning Commission chairman who won the most votes of six candidates in the May election to replace District 9 Councilman Joel Burns. Zadeh won 1,006 votes to Lasater’s second-place 772, out of a total 3,215.

“You look at who’s voting, and it seems to me, whoever gets out their key supporters is going to win this election,” Lasater, an attorney, said. “It’s all about getting voter turnout.”

Early voting closed Tuesday. The polls will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday.

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Besides the precincts that have been historically strong in District 9 elections, the candidates said they were pushing for votes south of Berry Street, where candidates Margot Garza and Juan Rangel III pulled support in the May election, and in Oakhurst, which is seeing a contested District 9 City Council campaign for the first time.

Zadeh said she also was canvassing the Alamo Heights and Sunset Heights area around Arlington Heights, also new to the district. Hispanic and partisan politics – city elections are non-partisan – have leaked into the race.

A group of Hispanic leaders, who had endorsed Greg Hughes over Garza and Rangel in the May election, has endorsed Zadeh in the runoff. The group’s leaders are Democrats who’ve said they believe it’s important for a Democrat to win the seat, Zadeh has accepted money from the Texas Democratic Party, and the Hispanic leaders have said they view Lasater as a Republican.

Lasater has been in the opposite corner from the Hispanic leadership, in 2011, when he accused the Fort Worth school board of diluting the voting power of the Paschal High School feeder system, and in 2013, when he backed the founding of a political action committee that recruited and campaigned for three candidates who won school board seats.

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One of the candidates, Ashley Paz, defeated Juan Rangel Jr., who had been heavily backed by the Hispanic leaders.

“We were on different sides of school issues, so I never expected them to support me,” said Lasater.

For the runoff, Lasater recruited one of Garza’s key people to be his ground campaign manager. Garza, running a grass-roots campaign with little money, pulled strong Hispanic support from neighborhoods around Berry Street in the May election.

Lasater, who put out a mailer in the last week touting the support of the Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger of Fort Worth, without identifying her party affiliation.

Lasater said he wasn’t bringing partisan politics into the race.

In her city campaigns, “Kay ran as a non-partisan and never brought party into her election,” said Lasater, who said he’s supported people from both parties in elections and has people of both parties among his supporters.

At least one local Democratic leader has said in Facebook posts that District 9 Democrats should vote for Zadeh.

Travis Parmer, Zadeh’s campaign manager, however, said “historically, it’s not very important. There’s a long tradition in Fort Worth that we keep partisan politics out of municipal elections. For the most part, both candidates have done that.”

Both campaigns said they expect overall turnout to be low. Parmer blamed that in part on multiple main and runoff elections in state and local races occurring on different dates in May and June, causing confusion and election fatigue.

“It’s a mess,” he said.

Here’s a breakdown of early in-person and mail voting by voting precinct:

1001, downtown/West Seventh: 39 1014, Edgecliff area: 15 1015, Alamo Heights: 16 1076, Mistletoe Heights: 69 1085, Seminary: 23 1094, Sunset Heights: 23 1095, Park Hill/TCU: 82 1108, Berkeley/Paschal: 121 1109, Scenic Bluff: 12 1133, South Hills: 57 1165, South Hills: 9 1237, South Hills: 23 1273, Seminary: 28 1298, Frisco Heights/TCU: 107 1376, Downtown: 2 1408, south: 7 1416, Charleston HOA: 4 1481, Seminary/South Wayside: 2 1597, southeast: 9 1608, Ryan Place: 47 1611, Hemphill: 1 1633, South: 1 1677, South Main: 1 1678, Samuels Avenue: 2 1684, Alamo Heights: 5 4006, South Main: 6 4057, Near Southside/downtown: 11 4060, Fairmount: 47 4077, Ryan Place: 18 4096, Fairmount: 43 4097, Ryan Place: 26 4107, South: 25 4124, Oakhurst: 56 4155, Rosemont: 39 4195, Worth Heights: 29 4201, Seminary: 67 4233, South Hemphill Heights: 24 4253, Samuels Avenue: 5 4256, Seminary: 13 4312, Near South: 1 4475, Ryan Place: 1 4492, Downtown: 7 4493, Linwood: 49 4496, Monticello Park: 3 4503, Sylvan Heights West: 19 4634, West Seventh: 14 4640, Samuels Avenue: 7