Dallas County

Runoff Elections Are Upon Us. Here's What You Need to Know.

There's plenty you need to know before heading to the polls today. Among them are some COVID-19 safety protocols.
There's plenty you need to know before heading to the polls today. Among them are some COVID-19 safety protocols. Keith Allison
After a longer-than-usual wait, the primary runoff elections are finally here. Back in March, Gov. Greg Abbott postponed the elections because of the pandemic. Now, with COVID-19 numbers surging, Dallas County residents are ready to head out into the hot, Texas-summer heat to cast their votes.

Daniel Bradley, the central count manager for Dallas County elections, said the unofficial early voting numbers show a higher-than-usual turnout for this kind of election. He said a little more than 64,000 people have already cast their votes. Bradley also said there is a higher-than-usual turnout for mail-in votes this time around.

But for those who haven't voted yet, here's what you need to know about today's elections. The Secretary of State's Office has laid out some safety protocols for people heading to the polls. It's recommended that voters bring hand sanitizer and their own marking tools, like pens and pencils, self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms and make sure to social distance. If voters exhibit any coronavirus symptoms, they should consider using curbside voting.

In a runoff race that began in March, Mary "MJ" Hegar, the Air Force veteran and former U.S. House candidate, faces off against state Sen. Royce West for a chance to battle U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in November. Whoever comes out on top tonight will have a hard fight ahead against the incumbent, but Hegar and West seem confident about the road ahead.

"[Cornyn] knows he's vulnerable. He knows that his time is up," Hegar told MSNBC. "It's time for him to go."

Hegar has the endorsement of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, but she'll still have to overcome a challenging battle against West's strong base in Dallas.

The congressional race to represent District 24 pits retired Air Force Col. Kim Olson against Candace Valenzuela, a Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District board member who is hoping to become the first Afro Latina elected to Congress. The winner in their Democratic primary will go on to face the Republican contender, former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, in the general election in November.

Dallas trial lawyer Chrysta Castañeda and former Texas House member Roberto R. "Beto" Alonzo are gunning to be the next railroad commissioner to regulate the state's oil and gas industry. Castañeda has experience as an oil and gas attorney and engineer while Alonzo has experience as a member of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority Board.

In Texas House District 100, civil rights attorney Jasmine Felicia Crockett looks to unseat incumbent Lorraine Birabil. Birabil has also acted as a Democratic precinct chair and delegate to the Texas Democratic Party for more than a decade. She took office earlier this year after winning the race for the seat vacated by now-Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.

Birabil has the endorsement of the local activist group Next Generation Action Network. But Crockett's supporters have argued that Birabil doesn't have the street cred her opponent does. For the last several years, Crockett could be seen marching beside protesters in their fight for social justice.

Audra Ladawn Riley and Teresa Jan Hawthorne are vying for a seat for the bench in Dallas County’s Criminal District Court No. 3. Riley served for a decade as a prosecutor in the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. Hawthorne served for eight years as state district judge. In 2017, The Dallas Morning News reported that the Texas Commission in Judicial Conduct slapped Hawthorne with a rare reprimand after she intervened in her nephew's criminal case and, in a separate case, scolded jurors when they sentenced a man convicted of rape to 99 years in prison.

As there is no Republican contender, their race will decide who has seat on the bench. Among others, Riley has the endorsement of The Dallas Morning News and Hawthorne received the endorsement of The Young Latino Democrats of Dallas.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn

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