Voters in Fort Worth, Texas, could elect the city’s first Black mayor next month. After garnering the highest percentage of votes during a general election on Saturday, Deborah Peoples, the Tarrant County Democratic Party chair, will advance to a runoff election against Republican Mattie Parker, who previously worked as the chief of staff for the outgoing mayor.
Peoples and Parker beat out eight other candidates, with Peoples getting the most votes out of all 10 candidates.
The two women offer different visions for the diverse city, with Peoples positioning herself as the unity candidate and touting her decades of executive experience and a broad coalition of support.
According to her website, Peoples advocates for “One Fort Worth” that looks out for all citizens and not “only the wealthy and well-connected.” Explaining the need for healthcare policy at the local level, Peoples supports increased mental health care and school counseling. She also pointed out that Fort Worth is home to the zip code with the lowest life expectancy in the state.
A historically Black area, around 6,000 people in zip code 76104 did not have health insurance, according to reports. An investigative reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram dug into the social determinants of health impacting residents. Peoples incorporated some of these issues into her platform.
Despite being a non-partisan race, the balance of political power has been shifting left in the city. In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, TCU professor James Riddlesperger said the city previously steered clear of partisan politics.
Prior election results show city residents choosing Democrat Beto O’Rourke over Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 and recently President Joe Biden. The Star-Telegram also reported an increase in voter turnout over a prior election in 2019.
Peoples positioned herself as taking on the Fort Worth establishment. Her opponent has the support of the outgoing mayor and both the police and firefighter unions.
Peoples is supported by local and national organizations from the Tarrant County Central Labor Council to Higher Heights For America. Fort Worth is scheduled to hold its runoff on June 5.
Municipal seats all across Texas were up for grabs on Saturday. Another notable highlight from across the state includes Crystal Chism winning the race for DeSoto City Council Place 6. Chism co-organized a #SayHerName protest last June and spoke about the need for police reform. She is a part of new leaders running to bring about change and transparency to the city.
Meanwhile, Austin voters approved a measure that would reinstate provisions that criminalize homelessness. Austin voters also voted to bring ranked-choice voting to the city and change the date of the Austin mayoral election. FairVote defines ranked-choice voting as an electoral reform that allows for voters to rank candidates in order of preference.
And Lubbock, Texas voters approved a measure that would make the city an anti-abortion sanctuary. The Texas Tribune reported Lubbock is the larger city in the so-called “sanctuary for the unborn” movement. City officials voted down the proposition citing federal and state law. Opponents say the move is unconstitutional as it effectively bars any abortion in the area.
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