What to Watch for During Saturday's Dallas City Council Elections

All that stands between Dallas and a new City Council is 11 or 12 people heading to the polls in Saturday's potential downpour, so let's take a look at what to watch for as results come in Saturday night.

The Dead Rubber Scott Griggs (District 1), Adam Medrano (District 2), Lee Kleinman (District 11), Sandy Greyson (District 12), Jennifer Gates (District 13) and Philip Kingston (District 14) are all running unopposed. Barring a write-in insurrection or something catastrophically stupid happening in Griggs' controversial coercion case, they'll all be on the council for at least the next two years.

Incumbent Monica Alonzo has drawn three challengers in West Dallas' District 6, but she'll win without a runoff. We'll put that race here, too.

The Long Shots Mayor Mike Rawlings, the incumbent, is a heavy, heavy favorite to beat his primary competition, Marcos Ronquillo. Still, some of the most active voices in this election have been strongly anti-Rawlings. With extremely low turnout expected, those voices might be over-represented in the final vote totals. Maybe Rawlings will win by 28 points instead of 32.

Upcoming Events

Throughout the run-up to the election there have been murmurings that Rick Callahan is vulnerable in Pleasant Grove's District 5. Callahan was elected as the least worst out of a weak field in 2013 and even that took a runoff. He supports the Trinity toll road and once said that the city needs to "break the backs" of the homeless to alleviate its panhandling problem.

He'll still probably win, though. In the 22 days between his last two campaign finance reports, Callahan raised just over $30,000. Sherry Cordova, who's been endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats and the Dallas Green Alliance, managed to raise about $11k. She's against the toll road. Jesse Diaz, the guy Callahan beat in that 2013 runoff, has dropped out of the race and endorsed Cordova, but the lack of a third candidate increases the likelihood that Callahan ekes by without a runoff.

The Open Seats

District 3: Vonciel Jones Hill's District 3 fiefdom is one of the bellwethers that will show how the anti-toll road progressive crowd is doing tomorrow. Casey Thomas has been endorsed by Hill, but hasn't been particularly visible and hasn't raised as much money as one might have expected. Obviously, considering the Hill endorsement, Thomas supports the toll road.

Joe Tave, a high school teacher, has been endorsed by Griggs, Medrano and Kingston and would help solidify opposition to Rawlings on the council. He's against the toll road and has expressed questions about Grow South, the mayor's ongoing plan to revitalize southern Dallas.

Wini Cannon, an attorney, seems to be fighting for many of the same votes as Tave. She won the DGA's endorsement and is staunchly against the toll road.

Gerald Britt, the vice president of external affairs at CitySquare, is yet another seemingly strong candidate who's voiced opposition to the toll road. He's been endorsed by the Morning News and raised a significant chunk of money, too.

A runoff between Thomas and one of the Tave/Cannon/Britt trio seems to be the likeliest scenario here, if only because underestimating Hill's reach in her district is foolhardy.

District 4: Carolyn Arnold has run an excellent campaign. She picked up the endorsement of the term-limited Dwaine Caraway early and carefully triangulated a position on the toll road that, somehow, seems to make everyone happy -- ostensibly, she's against it, but Arnold could easily pivot to any number of positions based on her statements. The only real question is whether she'll get over the 50 percent hump in a crowded field and avoid a runoff.

District 7: For a while now, this has been Tiffinni Young's seat to lose. The political consultant has been endorsed by Carolyn Davis, District 7's term-limited council member, Caraway and District 8 council representative Tennell Atkins. She is pro-toll road.

The other candidates to watch are Baranda Fermin, a UNT Dallas professor, who's raised, and spent, a ton of money and Hasani Burton. Fermin is largely undecided as to the toll road's specifics. Burton is strongly against the toll road, is popular among the more progressive minds in city politics and picked up The Dallas Morning News' endorsement in the race.

Similar to District 3, a runoff between the establishment-supported candidate, Young, and either Fermin or Burton wouldn't be a surprise.

District 8: This has been the hardest race to get a handle on in the campaign. There's an Erik with a K, Erik Wilson, who's been endorsed by the DMN and says he's ready to support Rawlings as the mayor begins his second term. There's an Eric with a C, Eric Williams, who's against the toll road, endorsed by the DGA and is the only candidate I've seen a TV ad for, for whatever that's worth. Gail Terrell, former Park Board vice president and community courts manager Dianne Gibson are on the ballot as well.

District 9: Perhaps the city's most competitive council race. District 9 features Darren Boruff, the establishment-backed, pro-toll road former Park Board member; Mark Clayton, an insurance agency owner backed by the Kingston/Griggs/Medrano trio; Sam Merten, Mayor Rawlings former spokesman and Will Logg. Chris Jackson, a real estate agent, is also on the ballot.

The race for second is the most interesting thing to watch in District 9. Boruff will likely get the most votes in round one, but whoever emerges out of Clayton, Merten and Jackson will give him a stiff test in the runoff.

District 10: District 10 has been kinda boring outside of Adam McGough's residency issues. McGough is Rawlings' former chief of staff. He and his wife bought a condo in Highland Park for the explicit purpose of sending the McGough kids to school in HPISD, but it's unclear if they violated any residency rules -- or if anyone actually lived at the condo.

Paul Reyes is a vice president at Associa, former state Senator John Carona's real estate concern. He seems perfectly competent, but he's danced around the toll road issue -- just like McGough -- throughout the campaign.

James White has been the progressive, anti-toll road fly in the ointment, but he hasn't raised enough money to do more than force McGough and Reyes into a runoff, it seems.


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