City Hall

The 5 Most Interesting Races on Dallas' May Ballot

Omar Narvaez is facing the same opponent, Monica Alonzo, he beat in 2017.
Jim Schutze
Omar Narvaez is facing the same opponent, Monica Alonzo, he beat in 2017.
The calendar has finally crept past February's midpoint, and that means a bit of Dallas 2019 election-related news. The announcements — and the "she's running, he's running, who exactly is running" drama — are over. Across 15 races, for 14 City Council district seats and mayor office, 65 candidates will appear on ballots when dozens of Dallas voters take to the polls the first Saturday in May.

The mayor's race is going to Hoover up most of the media coverage devoted to the election, but there remains a ton of intrigue down-ballot, thanks in part to some of the big names who officially decided to challenge several council incumbents last week.

Here's a look at Dallas' most interesting nonmayoral contests this spring, in descending order.

5. The squabble to replace Scott Griggs in District 1. — One way or another, Scott Griggs is going to be off the City Council in June. He's running for mayor, so he could get a promotion, but he's also term-limited in Oak Cliff's District 1, having been elected to the council four times.
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Chad West (left) and Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs
Chad West for Dallas

The odds-on favorite to take over for Griggs is Oak Cliff attorney and former City Plan Commission member Chad West. West has secured endorsements from Griggs, Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston and former City Council member Angela Hunt, in addition to former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller.

West's most interesting challenger is Sylvana Alonzo, owner of a small web design and marketing firm. Alonzo is former state Rep. Robert Alonzo's wife and former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Monica Alonzo's sister-in-law. Alonzo lacks political experience but will have her family's deep political connections to lean on.  

4. Tennell Atkins and Erik Wilson fight it out again. — Two years ago, Atkins, who'd given up his District 8 seat on the council because of term limits in 2015, wrested his job back from Wilson, despite the incumbent receiving considerable support from the For Our Community Super PAC backed by Dallas' business and political establishment.

After finishing second to Atkins in the first round of voting, Wilson insisted that he would've won outright had perennial candidate Eric Williams not also been on the ballot. This time around, Wilson and Atkins are the only two candidates in the race. The rubber match should get nasty.

3. District 7 is a free-for-all. — Kevin Felder's fight to keep his job in District 7 was going to be wild before the one-term council member got accused of hitting an 18-year-old on a scooter in South Dallas and then leaving the scene. (His attorney denies that Felder hit the teen.)

After the incident, the battle to represent Fair Park and portions of southeast Dallas is the hardest contest to predict. In addition to Felder, eight other candidates are in the race, ranging from infamous "Will Rap 4 Weed" activist Yvette Gbalazeh to Tiffinni Young, who won the seat in 2015 before being ousted by Felder. Adam Bazaldua, a teacher and community advocate who ran against Felder and Young two years ago, should be a strong contender as well.
2. When will the mud start to fly in West Dallas. — Dallas' hardest fought and most controversial 2017 City Council election is set for a replay in West Dallas, with Monica Alonzo returning from two years away from City Hall to take on Omar Narvaez.

Two years ago, both campaigns accused the other of cheating by harvesting mail-in ballots. While an investigation into hundreds of suspicious ballots failed to implicate either campaign in any vote-harvesting, a Dallas man named Miguel Hernandez served 180 days in jail for inappropriately returning a marked ballot, a Class A misdemeanor.

Someone in District 6 is going to cry foul, or wolf. It's just a matter of time.

1. Laura Miller's back, but for how long? — Former Mayor Laura Miller is back, seeking to take down her North Dallas neighbor Jennifer Gates as Gates seeks her fourth term on the council. This election is going to be about development. Miller insists that Gates' push for development in and around Preston Center is out of touch with the neighborhoods she represents. The big question is whether Miller still has the political savvy she possessed when she wrested the mayor's job away from the Citizens Council in 2002.