Meanwhile back at the ranch: Dallas Municipals 2013
Categories: Political Commentary • Published on November 16, 2012 at 4:04 AM
Now that the 2012 General Election is over (thank God!), the next big thing politically (at least for Dallas) are the upcoming 2013 May Municipal elections. Just like my previous article from 2011, Dallas Municipal Elections Update, I wanted to take a moment to look at who is running and what the races look like right now.
Quick Dallas City Council Background
Dallas City Council is made up of 14 districted seats that run every 2 years. They are term-limited to 4 consecutive terms (8 years total) and earn $37,500 per year. Dallas Mayor, also known as Place 15, serves a 4 year term for a maximum 2 consecutive terms, and earns $60k per year. You can see a map of Dallas City Council Districts at Dallas County Elections website.
Thanks to redistricting in 2011, the City of Dallas now has new maps for its 14 City Council seats. A fair amount of controversy was stirred up during redistricting about the number of Hispanic opportunity seats available. Under the new maps, there are 4 Hispanic opportunity districts (Districts 1, 2, 5, & 6). Some activists from the Hispanic community argued that the large Hispanic population growth justifies a fifth Hispanic opportunity district, but many African-American activists voiced concerns that such as district would be created at the expense of a one of their African-American opportunity districts and would result in retrogression. The City of Dallas is currently being sued over the new map’s hispanic districts.
Much like the State of Texas’ redistricting battle, the arguments about maps with the City of Dallas can get complicated quickly. Bill Betzen has written extensively about this fight on his blog, Dallas Redistricting 2011. For this article, I will be focusing on upcoming City Council races based on the maps as they currently stand. If the map lines change, then we will address how those adjustments affect the 2013 Municipal Elections at that time.
A Brief Review of Dallas City Councilors
The following table outlines the winners of Dallas City Council elections over the past 10 years. Winners who also had a runoff election during a particular year are shaded in yellow; winners who ran unopposed during an election cycle are highlighted in blue.
** Vonciel Hill used to represent District 5, but redistricting will now have her in District 3.
Now that we have done a brief overview of City Council, redistricting, and past incumbents; let’s take a look at the potential races that will be going on in the 2013 May Municipal Elections.
District 1 (Delia Jasso vs. Scott Griggs)
District 1 encompasses Oak Cliff and Kessler Park, and has the largest concentration of Hispanic voters (79%). Under the new maps, current city council incumbents Delia Jasso (District 1) and Scott Griggs (District 3) both got drawn into the same district. Neither has so far indicated that they are NOT running so we could have two sitting councilors fighting for the same seat.
Delia Jasso has represented District 1 since 2007, and succeeded County Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia who was term-limited out. Scott Griggs was elected in 2009, and has gained some popularity with his outspoken anti-fracking stance. Both councilors have good backgrounds in helping their communities, and the fact they may now have to fight each other over a city council seat is a truly sad outcome of these new maps.
I should note for full disclosure that I worked with both candidates in their elections and re-elections.
District 2 (formerly Pauline Medrano, Open Seat)
For the past 8 years, District 2 has been represented by Pauline Medrano. In the past two elections, Pauline’s incumbency was challenged by William “Billy” MacLeod whom she handily defeated on both occasions. It is unclear if Billy MacLeod will make a third attempt to run for District 2 now that Pauline is term-limited out of this election. Adam Medrano, nephew to Pauline Medrano, has been rumored for years by local activists to be considering a run for the office as Pauline’s successor. Adam currently represents District 8 on the Dallas ISD Board, and was first elected in 2006. So far Adam has not made any formal announcement of running so it remains to be seen what he will do.
Herschel Weisfeld, an openly gay real estate developer, has already announced his intention to run for District 2 in the upcoming election as mentioned by the Dallas Voice. District 2 covers a large section of the LGBT community in Oak Lawn. However, in 2006, Dallas’ Stonewall Democrats endorsed Pauline Medrano over LGBT community member Monica Barros-Greene citing Pauline’s support of the LGBT issues and community.
Ricky Gonzales filed a Treasurer Appointment with the Dallas City Secretary. I do not have much information on Ricky at this time, but did find that he posted an online notice seeking a volunteer web developer for the campaign.
Open seat elections easily draw four or more candidates so it remains to be seen who else announces for this seat.
District 5 (former Vonciel Hill, Open Seat)
District 5 is an open seat election under the new map. Scott Griggs of District 3 was drawn into District 1, and Vonciel Hill formerly of District 5 now resides in the new District 3. District 5 has been drawn as a Hispanic opportunity district in the area of Dallas known as Pleasant Grove. At this time, I have not heard of any candidates that have formerly announced to run for this new seat and no one has yet filed a Treasurer Appointment with the Dallas City Secretary.
District 10 (incumbent Jerry Allen, fourth term)
District 10 is represented by Jerry Allen who will be running for his fourth and final term. Jerry has a distinction of being unopposed during his first election, and then opposed in every election since. It more common for candidates to fight a contested race the first time and then run unopposed in subsequent elections.
District 10 resident Matthew Shuman has filed a Treasurer Appointment for District 10. Matt is a 30 year old resident with sporadic voting history (2008 & 2004 General, no Primary or Municipal).
District 11 (formerly Linda Koop, Open Seat)
District 11 remains largely unchanged from its previous incarnation, and is the second most northern council district of Dallas. District 11 covers the heavily Jewish areas of Preston Hollow represented by Jason Villalba (State House 114); plus neighborhoods surrounding the Galleria represented by Stefanie Carter (State House 102). Some followers of Dallas Council politics have suggested that Lois Finkelman is considering a possible run to replace Linda Koop who is term-limited out. Lois has previously served 8 years on the Dallas City Council, Park Board President, and was appointed to head the city’s Gas Drilling Task Force.
District 13 (formerly Ann Margolin, Open Seat)
Current incumbent Ann Margolin was elected in 2009 in the most expensive city council race in the City of Dallas. The Dallas Morning News reported on Sunday that Ann Margolin had announced she would not be seeking re-election in 2013. It is unclear exactly who will run to replace her in this district, or whether Brint Ryan may take another stab at running. Brint currently serves as Finance Chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party and CEO of Ryan LLC, a global tax services firm. District 13 is composed almost entirely of the Preston Hollow, and its Councillor would represent such local celebrities as former President George W. Bush, Ross Perot, Mark Cuban, and Roger Staubach.
District 14 (formerly Angela Hunt, Open Seat)
In 2011, Angela Hunt was often mentioned as a possible contender for the open mayoral seat vacated by Tom Leppert so he could make his ill-fated bid of United State Senate. Angela opted to run for her fourth and final term representing District 14, instead. District 14 has a number of potential candidates that could potentially make this one of the more crowded races of 2013. I should note for full disclosure that I worked as Angela Hunt’s Data Manager for her re-election campaign in 2011.
Here is a breakdown of announced or potential candidates:
Jim Rogers: Jim gets listed first since he announced in 2011 before it became clear Angela was not going to run for Mayor. Once Angela chose to run for District 14, Jim Rogers changed his plans to run in 2013 when Angela’s term expired. Jim is a lawyer by trade, and one of the founding members of the Byran Place Neighborhood Association.
Philip Kingston: Philip Kingston informed the Dallas Morning News on October 10 that he was running after filing a Treasurer appointment with the City of Dallas. Philip is also a lawyer, and also served as Angela Hunt’s campaign treasurer. Paul Sims, Angela’s husband, is acting as Philip’s treasurer.
Judy Liimatainen: Judy Liimatainen has also filed a treasurer appointment with the City of Dallas. She is a board member for the Greenland Hills Neighborhood Association.
Robert Abtahi: Rumors have been circulating that Robert Abtahi, who currently sits on the city’s Plan Commission, is considering a possible run. Robert is an attorney who graduated from Southern Methodist University, and also served as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Dallas.
James Nowlin: James Nowlin ran against Angela Hunt in 2011, and was the second highest voter getting (27%) in a four person race. James dissolved his campaign committee in 2010, but does still live in District 14 under the new maps. It remains to be seen if James decides to try running again in this open seat election.
Looking ahead at 2015
The Municipal Elections for 2015 could be an interesting year as well assuming that many of the current incumbents seek and win re-election this cycle. In 2015, 6 city councilors (Vonciel Hill, Dwaine Caraway, Carolyn Davis, Tennell Atkins, Sheffie Kadane, and Jerry Allen) will be term-limited out of office plus Mayor Mike Rawlings will be up for re-election.