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Mattie Parker excitedly pronounced “it’s go time for Fort Worth, Texas” as she declared victory in the race to replace Betsy Price as mayor.
Unofficial results from Tarrant, Denton and Parker counties at 10 p.m. Saturday showed Parker with 53% of the vote compared to 47% for Deborah Peoples.
“Together we will do extraordinary things,” Parker said just before 10 p.m. With 131 of 133 Tarrant County vote centers and all of the precincts in Denton and Parker counties reporting, Parker had 45,373 votes to Peoples’ 39,264.
Parker, 37, is one of the youngest mayors of a major American city. She told supporters her election was a “tremendous opportunity for my generation to take the torch, but with respect and appreciation for all the leaders before us.”
Peoples, 68, conceded shortly before 10 p.m.
In a statement issued through the Texas Democratic party, Peoples said her campaign had been about building “One Fort Worth.”
“While one night’s results may not have been what we wanted, the historic turnout sent a clear message that voters are crying out for leaders who accept Texans of all backgrounds, races, and walks of life,” Peoples said. “I will continue the fight to give more communities a seat at the table, expand prosperity to all our neighborhoods, and elect leaders who truly represent all the people.”
Parker is the founding chief executive officer of education nonprofits Fort Worth Cradle to Career and the Tarrant To & Through Partnership and spent five years as the chief of staff to Price and the city council.
“She’s the right leader to build a coalition and she’s got a great mind,” Price said about Parker.
Peoples retired as a vice president for AT&T and is the former chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party.
They were by far the top vote-getters in the general election, which saw historic voter turnout. Peoples took 22,594 votes in Tarrant, Denton and Parker counties compared to Parker’s 21,014.
In a her victory speech, Parker said she would work to earn the respect of all Fort Worthians, not just those who supported her. She painted a bright vision for city, saying she would champion economic growth both for small businesses and large corporations and build a diverse coalition to adviser her over the two year term.
“Together we’re going to build on this success by embracing a community of leaders with a diversity of ideas and experience to push our progress forward,” she said. “You’ve heard me say this before, Fort Worth, Texas is positioned for greatness.”
After a decade in office, Price in January announced she would not seek an unprecedented sixth term.
In several ways Parker represented a continuation of Price’s policies for voters. She did not significantly distance herself from Price, who endorsed Parker ahead of the general election.
Like Price, Parker said she would focus on education and early childhood development as way to improve Fort Worth’s workforce and spur greater economic development. The mayor has no official role in education, but Price has used her influence to create a reading program and draw attention to the need for better child support.
During debates after the general election, Parker and Peoples laid out differing visions for advancing Fort Worth.
On economic development, Parker said Fort Worth should study how other cities have boosted minority and women owned businesses and pitch the city to companies currently based in less “business friendly” places like Portland, Seattle or Detroit.
Peoples took a more homegrown approach, arguing at forum hosted by the Star-Telegram that Fort Worth should focus on helping locally owned small businesses and work more closely with minority and women owned companies.
They also differed on tackle the city’s growing mobility issues. Peoples said Fort Worth should invest significantly in light rail and other multi-model forms of mobility to help residents get to jobs. She said funding could be found through state and federal support.
Parker said the cost was too great and while funding make come for outside sources Fort Worth should make smaller, cheaper improves. She also wanted the city to explore new tech and rides hare programs.
The Fort Worth Police Officers Association touted Parker as a champion for the department would fight against any efforts to “defund the police.” She has said the council should rely on Chief Neil Noakes and Police Monitor Kim Neal when it comes to changing policy or creating a civilian review board.
Peoples has argued the Race and Culture Task Force recommendation for a civilian oversight board should be taken seriously and adopted quickly.
The race was an up hill battle for both candidates.
Parker lacked significant name recognition, which she made up for with endorsements and financing from several of Fort Worth’s old guard. Peoples did not get the backing of the city’s powerful business community, though she built significant grassroots following.
The women advanced out of a crowded field of 10 candidates in the May 1 general election. While several were political newcomers, two of their opponents, Brian Byrd and Ann Zadeh, had spent more than one term on the City Council.
City Council races
New faces will becoming to Fort Worth City Council for the first time in four years as voters in two council districts selection new representation. In two other districts, on the southwest side and east side, hefty challengers forced incumbents into the runoff.
Incumbent Jungus Jordan, the longest serving council member, had 50.33% of the vote. Jared Williams, a science educator, had 49.67%.
Tiesa Leggett ran against both in the general election.
The district includes southwest Fort Worth neighborhoods and the new Tarleton State campus.
Leonard Firestone, co-founder of Firestone and Robertson Distilling, had 54.4% while Zeb Pent, self- employed, 45.6%, according to unofficial results in Tarrant and Denton counties.
Council member Dennis Shingleton’s retirement opened the district to 10 candidates. Pent won the general election by five points but third place finisher Lee Henderson threw his support behind Firestone, arguing that Pent would be “unquestionably dangerous” for Fort Worth.
The district stretches from central Fort Worth, including the Cultural District, to the far north and the AllianceTexas corridor.
Chris Nettles, self employed, had 52% and incumbent Kelly Allen Gray had 48%
Three others for District 8 in the general election when Nettles beat Gray by about 2 points.
The district includes a large portion of east Fort Worth.
Elizabeth Beck, a lawyer, had 62% while Fernando Peralta, a sergeant in the Texas National Guard had 38%.
Beck ran for the Texas House last year and Peralta is president of the Las Familias de Rosemont neighborhood in south Fort Worth.
They advanced out of a crowded field of nine in the general election that saw the most fireworks outside of the race for mayor.
Jordan Mims, had called on Darien George to drop out after George faced criticism for aggressive behavior on the campaign trail. George told the Star-Telegram he would leave the race, but the decision came too close to the election for his name to be taken off the ballot.
Opponents of Erik Richerson sought to disqualify him for a felony arrest in Washington State in 1999. The city secretary’s office had rule him ineligible but reversed the decision after Richerson present evidence that a judge had restored his voting rights.
The south and central Fort Worth council seat was left open after Ann Zadeh ran for mayor. It includes downtown and the Near Southside.
Fort Worth ISD District 9
Roxanne Martinez had 54.8% of the vote to Cade Lovelace’s 45.1%, according to unofficial results.