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Runoff yields big wins, upsets

Deborah Peoples and Mattie Parker
Deborah Peoples and Mattie Parker

Longtime community leader Deborah Peoples, a member of one of Fort Worth’s most prominent Black families, lost her bid to become the city’s first African American mayor.

Peoples trailed by roughly 6,000 votes, just after 11 p.m. Saturday, according to the Tarrant County Elections office. All 133 precincts had reported their results, according to the Tarrant County Elections Office.

Peoples earned 40,732 votes while Mattie Parker, who is outgoing Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price’s chief of staff, garnered 46,255 votes in the runoff election, according to the Tarrant Elections Office official website late Saturday.

Roughly 128,540 county residents – 14.54 percent of registered voters – cast ballots in the runoff election, officials said.  There are 883,776 registered voters in Tarrant County.

“From the beginning, this campaign has been about building One Fort Worth,” Peoples said Saturday night in a post on her campaign’s official Instagram account.

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“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 that accept Texans of all backgrounds, races and walks of life.”

Peoples said she planned to continue her civic work.

“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.”

Saturday’s election results are unofficial. County elections officials reported their results as of 11 p.m. Saturday.

Peoples’ campaign manager Neil Goodman had said earlier Saturday that the campaign was holding out hope that Peoples still would pull out a win in an election that saw Governor Greg Abbott, former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke and other national figures endorse the two candidates.

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At the time, he said more than 20,000 ballots had not been counted.

Later Saturday, asked whether Peoples believed the election’s outcome might change, Goodman pointed news media to the campaign’s social media accounts for Peoples’ statement on the matter.

“See our social media for the statement,” he wrote in a text message.

He did not elaborate further.

Elsewhere in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, other African American candidates also appeared to be losing in several high profile city elections.

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In Arlington, former school board and city council member Michael Glaspie lagged behind in his quest to become the city’s second African American mayor in about two decades.

Kelly Allen Gray
Kelly Allen Gray

 Glaspie, a Vietnam War veteran who served 17 years on the Arlington school board and seven years on the city council, earned nearly 46 percent of the 19,800 votes cast in that race while his opponent, Jim Ross, a former Marine and former Arlington police officer, earned 54 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the county elections office.

Ross, who is white, earned endorsements from Arlington’s Hispanic and African American peace officers’ associations, the city’s firefighters’ association and from outgoing Mayor Jeff Williams, among others. Ross claimed victory in that race, Fox-4 reported late Saturday.

In other races, Fort Worth Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray, an incumbent, lost her bid to retain her City Council Place 8 seat against political newcomer and pastor Chris Nettles. Both candidates are African American.

Chris Nettles
Chris Nettles

In a rarity for the night, Jared Williams apparently defeated longtime Fort Worth City Councilman Jungus Jordan, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, in the District 6 runoff election.

Williams’ supporters posted video from a victory celebration party – completed with Williams stepping with his Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity brothers – to his personal Facebook page late Saturday night. The page also displays pictures of supporters hugging Williams and posts congratulating him.

The much younger Williams, who has a doctorate degree in environmental science, earned 50 percent of the vote while Jordan earned 49 percent, in a race that switched winners over the course of the night, according to unofficial results.

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Jordan, who is white, was first elected to the Fort Worth City Council in 2005.

Fort Worth journalist and political analyst Bed Kennedy predicted Williams would win in the close election.

Steve “Junior” Ezeonu
Steve “Junior” Ezeonu

“I think it was clear Jungus Jordan would lose when the councilman who wouldn’t rename Jefferson Davis Park suddenly sent a mailer about his love for Dr. (Martin Luther) King,” Kennedy wrote in a social media post late Saturday night. “Jared Williams takes that seat on a council full of newcomers.”

In another race watched my many African Americans, Grand Prairie’s Steve “Junior” Ezeonu, who was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States when he was two years old, appeared to have beaten Greg Giessner for the Grand Prairie Place 8 at large seat. Ezeonu won 3,901 votes – mostly from those Grand Prairie residents who live on the far west side of the city which falls into neighboring Tarrant County – while his opponent earned 3,719 votes, according to unofficial results posted on both counties elections web sites.

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