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Mesquite poised to elect first Latino mayor, Daniel Aleman

This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas.

The council member was on his way to defeating Ron Ward, who would have been the city’s first Black mayor.
A voter exits a polling place on Election Day
A voter exits a polling place on Election Day at Lakeside Activity Center in Mesquite, Texas on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

By Leah Waters

Daniel Aleman had a strong lead in the Mesquite mayor’s race late Tuesday night, paving the way for the third-generation Mexican-American to be the first person of color to serve in the city’s highest office.

Aleman, the District 6 council member, was poised to defeat Ron Ward for the open seat left by Mayor Bruce Archer, who announced in June he wouldn’t seek reelection.

“I feel the history of this as well being the first Latino mayor,” Aleman said late Tuesday. “Our demographics show 61% of our public schools are Hispanic. So I’m excited to be the first Latino serving all the people.”

Aleman is a senior pastor at Creek Crossing Harvest Church and a 23-year resident of Mesquite.

Ward is a retired 21-year resident of Mesquite who served for 26 years in the U.S. Air Force.

The East Dallas County Democrats endorsed Ward for mayor, and the Mesquite police and firefighters associations endorsed Aleman.

Diversity of city officials

According to the most recent Census data, of the 150,000 people who live in Mesquite, 2.8% are Asian, 26% Black or African-American, 41% Hispanic or Latino and 27.4% are white alone (not Hispanic or Latino), among others.

Voters at the polls Tuesday said the lack of diversity among the city council and school board members prompted them to get involved in city politics. The current council is majority white.

Ukiah Gilliam, a community advocate for Minorities and Allies of Mesquite, said the lack of representation in elected office hurts a community where people of color are the majority.

“When you have a city council and a school board that cater to a certain demographic and only focus on that demographic, then you leave a lot of people out,” Gilliam said.

Several diverse candidates ran for city council this year: Dorothy Patterson, who is Black, in District 2; Elizabeth Rodriguez-Ross, who is Hispanic, in District 3; and Brandon Murden, who is Black, in District 6.

Campaigners wait outside a polling place to talk with voters on Election Day at Lakeside Activity Center in Mesquite, Texas on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)
Campaigners wait outside a polling place to talk with voters on Election Day at Lakeside Activity Center in Mesquite, Texas on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

Rodriguez-Ross greeted voters Tuesday at Lakeside Activity Center, a post she held every day of early voting, taking time away from her job as a head restaurant hostess.

“People are ready for change,” she said. “They want to see some diversity and inclusiveness in our council. And I think they’re trying to turn out in numbers.”

Voters were deciding on six council seats, as well as a tax proposition that would fund increased cybersecurity measures, road repair efforts, five more police officers and 10 more firefighters.

City Council, District 1

Jeff Casper was hanging on to a narrow lead over David Jackson Burris late Tuesday, with Joe Hicks a distant third in the race for council member Sherry Wisdom’s seat. She had announced this summer that she would not seek reelection.

City Council, District 2

Incumbent Kenny Green easily won reelection Tuesday over Patterson.

“I’m humbled,” Green, a claims analyst and 10-year Mesquite resident, said Tuesday. “Because people of my district have seen the work I’ve put in over the past two years and have decided to allow me to serve them for two more.”

City Council, District 3

Jennifer Vidler appeared headed to victory over Rodriguez-Ross, with Rose Grimsley in third in the race for the open seat. Mayor Pro Tem Robert Miklos announced in May he would not run again.

City Council, District 4

Incumbent Tandy Boroughs appeared likely to hold onto his seat after a challenge from Andrew Hubacek.

City Council, District 5

Incumbent B.W. Smith won reelection over Tom Palmer.

City Council, District 6

Debbie Anderson was slightly ahead of Murden late Tuesday in the race for Aleman’s open seat.

Tax proposition

Mesquite voters backed a tax proposition Tuesday that will fund increased cybersecurity measures, road repair efforts, five more police officers and 10 more firefighters.

The average homeowner will pay about $10 more per month in city taxes based on the average property value in Mesquite, except those who qualify for the age 65 or older homestead exemption.

State law requires that Mesquite voters approve this year’s tax rate, which exceeds the 3.5% voter-approval tax rate.

Green said that, without the support of Proposition A, residents would have seen their city services suffer. The increased revenue will also help pay city workers a competitive salary.

“You look at the pay and it’s pitiful,” he said Tuesday. “Last year, we couldn’t open our pools because we couldn’t pay our lifeguards enough.”

Other local results

  • Television executive Andrew Yeager won a Southlake Carroll ISD board seat over former educator Stephanie Williams, tilting the board to the right in a community embroiled in controversy over a proposed diversity initiative and claims of critical race theory being taught in schools.
  • Voters in Richardson were largely in favor of a $190 million infrastructure bond package.
  • Allen voters appeared likely to reject two Allen ISD bond propositions, as well as one increasing city council term limits from two to three consecutive terms.
  • Tarrant County voters appeared to favor a proposed $400 million transportation bond but turned down a second proposal for $116 million to build and equip new offices for the district attorney’s office.
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