Parker tops Peoples in hard-fought Fort Worth mayor’s race

Screen grab from the Mattie Parker for Fort Worth Mayor Facebook page Live broadcast from Lola's Fort Worth on West 5th Street on June 5, 2021.

Mattie Parker, former top aide to Mayor Betsy Price, was elected Saturday as the next mayor of Fort Worth, defeating Deborah Peoples.

The 37-year-old Parker was in a hard-fought runoff with Peoples, a former Democratic county chairwoman. Peoples conceded defeat as Parker had more than 53% of the vote with ballots still being counted.

In Tarrant County, Parker had about 55% of the vote, while Peoples had 47%, with 130 of 133 vote centers reporting as of 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

In a Facebook Live broadcast from Lola’s Fort Worth on West 5th Street, Parker told supporters:

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“Fort Worth is a city built on a pioneering spirit founded against all odds. “Our history and heritage is built on a strong team of leaders who never campaigned for office. They were ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

“And whose bold actions redefined what was possible, impacting generations to come. I’m that ordinary person. Because of your support here tonight, together we will do extraordinary things for Fort Worth, Texas. I see the limitless potential for this city.”

While the race was officially nonpartisan, it sometimes seemed like a battle between Republicans and Democrats.

Fort Worth is Texas’ only big city with a GOP mayor as Democrats have made inroads into the red state’s most booming areas.

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Peoples is a former Democratic Party county chairwoman and was the top-vote getter in a crowded 10-candidate field in May. Parker is a nonprofit execuitive who served as chief of staff to the outgoing mayor and city council and who has long been involved in Republican politics.

The Texas Democratic Party endorsed Peoples, while Republicans brought activists from around the state into Fort Worth in an effort to hold the line.

The race was not cheap for either candidate and will likely end up being the most expensive mayor’s race in the city’s history.

“I am proud to congratulate Mattie Parker for earning the people of Fort Worth’s votes and being elected the 45th Mayor of Fort Worth,” Price said in a statement. “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. The new voice and fresh perspective Mattie brings to the table will be invaluable on the Fort Worth City Council. I am confident that she and this Council will continue to work together to build for the future of Fort Worth with innovation and intention, while maintaining the unique history and spirit that makes Fort Worth such a special place.”

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Price is leaving office after being mayor for 10 years.

Gov. Greg Abbott also congratulated Parker in a statement.

“Congratulations to Mattie Parker on her victory to be the next Fort Worth mayor,” said Abbott. “Mattie is a true leader who will fight to build a safer and more prosperous future for the people of Fort Worth.”

Parker will take office on June 15, along with several new council members and some returning members.

The new officeholders will take office just weeks before the scheduled August trial of a former Fort Worth police office charged with murder in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, a Black woman who was fatally shot through a window in 2019.