Price makes history with win; Water Board incumbents re-elected

Mayor Betsy Price on election night May 3, 2019 

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price made history on Saturday night winning her fifth election to be the mayor of one of the fastest-growing large cities in the country.

Price becomes the longest serving mayor in Fort Worth’s history.

“The new term will continue on things that have made Fort Worth successful: bringing in jobs, working on our infrastructure, working on transportation and certainly working on education–because the real key to eliminating poverty is going be education and providing jobs,” Price said, following the opening of the HUD EnVision Center in Fort Worth on May 6.. “And, we’ll continue to do that. We’ve been in the community thousands of times every year and we’ll continue on that path forward to try to get connected with more people.

“I’m excited of having the privilege to serve another couple of years,” she said. “That’s quite an honor to be chosen by [Fort Worth residents] to be able to serve eight years and now have the capacity to serve two years with an overwhelming margin in victory. I think that says we’re going in the right direction. People trust us.”

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With all precincts reporting Price led challenger Deborah Peoples 56% to 42%. Price had 21,508 votes to Peoples’ 16,193. James H. McBride had 2.3% of the vote.

While the mayoral race is nonpartisan, Peoples is chairwoman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party and Price has been active in the Republican party for many years. Peoples was endorsed by the state party and her showing might have been boosted by visits to Fort Worth in the days before the election by a trio of Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke.

Even with some high-powered support, overall turnout for the mayor’s race was typical of recent elections with 9% of registered votes casting ballots. In Tarrant County, overall turnout was 8.33%

“There were no real surprises in this election,” said Tom Stallings, a principal in Mosaic Strategy Partners, a political strategy and communications firm. “The only surprise may been the outcome of the water board race. Otherwise, it was business as usual.”

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Tarrant Regional Water District voters re-elected incumbents Marty Leonard and Jim Lane to the board of directors.

Leonard and Lane, who have both served on the TRWD board since 2006, were re-elected to new four-year terms. The two were the highest vote getters among the five candidates running for the two seats.

With nearly 100 percent of the votes counted, Leonard won 30% of the vote, with 18,107 votes. Jim Lane captured 22.8% with 13,696 votes. Turnout was 9.49% of registered voters.

Former TRWD board member Mary Kelleher received 17.2% with 10,360 votes. Charles “C.B” Team took 16.2% with 9,733 votes and Gary Moates took 13.8% with 8,277 votes.

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The race was contentious but less rancorous than previous TRWD board elections. This time, the election was a referendum on management of the water district and its subsidiary, the Trinity River Vision Authority.

Challengers pointed to the inability of the TRWD and TRVA to attract the critical federal funds to advance the Panther Island project.

Furthermore, ongoing issues with construction of the Panther Island bridges have led to delays and potentially big cost overruns.

The TRVA board recently launched a comprehensive review of the $1.17 billion Panther Island project to determine what might be jeopardizing the project and any potential changes that could improve its chances of receiving federal funds. Dallas-based Riveron is expected to complete its review within three months.

Lane and Leonard were supported by the political action committee, the Tarrant Water Alliance. Former TRWD board President Vic Henderson served as its treasurer.

Stallings and others expected a different outcome in the competitive TRWD race because of mounting concerns about the ability of the Panther Island project to attract the $526 million in federal funds it is relying on.

Jim Lane said his victory speaks to voters’ interest in seeing the Panther Island project completed.

“Thank you to the voters who support Panther Island and (TRVA Executive Director) J.D. Granger,” Lane said. “People are glad we’re moving ahead with this project and we’re going to finish it.”

The three challengers conducted grassroots campaigns with limited budgets.

“I feel I ran a great campaign but, of course, I am disappointed in the results,” Team said.

Mary Kelleher said she was pleased with the support she received.

“I’m proud of what my team accomplished with an $8,000 budget,” she said.

Moates said he would comment in a few days.

In the District 3 council race in Fort Worth, incumbent Brian Byrd was re-elected with 81% of the vote over challenger Tanner Smith, who had 19% of the vote. In the District 4 race in northeast Fort Worth, incumbent Cary Moon had 74% of the vote while challenger Max J. Striker received 26%.

In a crowded District 5 race, incumbent Gyna M. Bivens led the field with 66% of the vote over challengers Tammy Pierce (16%), Thomas B. Brown (7%), Bob Willoughby (6%) and Waymond Brown Sr. (5%).

In the District 6 race, incumbent Jungus Jordan took 55% of the vote over challengers Daryl R. Davis, II, with 36% of the vote and Rod Smith with 9%. In the District 7 race, incumbent Dennis Shingleton received 68% of the vote over challengers Michael Matos with 20% of the vote and David Hawthorne with 11%.

In the District 8 race, incumbent Kelly Allen Gray received 53% of the vote over challengers Chris Nettles with 40% of the vote and Kevin “KL” Johnson with 7%.

Incumbent Carlos Flores was unopposed in North Fort Worth’s District 2 as was District 9 incumbent Ann Zadeh.

In the race to fill the slot vacated by longtime Tarrant County College District 7 trustee and board president Louise Appleman, former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr was elected with 79% of the vote over Hunter Crow. The district includes the TCU area, Southwest Fort Worth, West Fort Worth (generally south of I-30) and Benbrook. Appleman was first elected to the board in 1988.

In the race for seats on the Fort Worth Independent School District board of directors, District 2 incumbent Tobi Jackson took home 63% of the vote to defeat challenger Chad E. McCarty, who had 37%. In the District 3 race, Quinton ‘Q’ Phillips received 70% of the vote to Cleveland Harris’ 30%. In the District 5 race, Carin ‘CJ’ Evans won with 57% of the vote over Carla Morton who had 43%. In the District 6 race, Anne Darr received 62% of the vote over two other candidates: Lisa Saucedo with 25% and Sandra A. Shelton with 13%.

In the Arlington mayor’s race, incumbent Jeff Williams was re-elected with 59% of the vote; his nearest challenger, Ruby Faye Woolridge, received 26%. Ashton Stauffer received 10% of the vote and Chris “Dobi” Dobson garnered 6%. – additional reporting by Neetish Basnet