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Voters In Dallas & Fort Worth Prepare To Elect New Mayors

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People stand in line at a polling place. (credit: Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images)

People stand in line at a polling place. (credit: Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images)

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FORT WORTH (AP) – Voters in Dallas and Fort Worth are preparing to elect new mayors after contentious races for the open seats.

Runoff races are expected after Saturday’s elections in both cities because the tight races indicate a single candidate may not garner more than 50 percent of the vote. The non-partisan elections are among several being held across Texas for mayor and some city commission and school board seats.

In Dallas, the former police chief and the city’s homeless czar are among the four vying for the mayor’s seat vacated by Tom Leppert. He stepped down earlier this year to run for the U.S. Senate seat in 2012 after Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison decided to retire.

Mike Rawlings, who has been chief executive of three companies and led the city’s efforts to raise money for the homeless, has received key endorsements and raised the most money — more than $1.6 million — for his campaign featuring heavy advertising. Dallas City Councilman Ron Natinsky, who pledges to create jobs, has gained momentum while blanketing the city with ads.

Former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle has the most name recognition and touts his record of reducing crime. He has raised far less money, about $184,000, but it came from hundreds of donors contributing to his grass-roots campaign. Also running is real estate consultant Edward Okpa.

Fort Worth has what many are calling the first competitive race in decades following a series of longtime mayors, including Mike Moncrief, who decided not to seek re-election after eight years in office.

The top contenders are the county’s former tax assessor Betsy Price, who pledges to cut city spending and has received some key endorsements; and former Fort Worth City Councilman Jim Lane, an attorney who says he has the most municipal experience and has raised the most money. Cathy Hirt, a former councilwoman who says she will not be influenced by special interests, also could end up in a run-off with Price, according to political experts.

Other candidates are attorney and former state Rep. Dan Barrett, and film producer Nicholas Zebrun in his first bid for public office.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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