New Dallas City Council Members Credit Grassroots Support For Victories

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Omar Narvaez is on his way to the Dallas City Council after defeating Monica Alonzo, a three term incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem.

Alonzo had support from Mayor Mike Rawlings and from For Our Community, a super-PAC aligned with a consultant the Mayor has previously hired.

“People want their neighborhoods focused on. The residents of District 6 felt under-represented for far too long. So it wasn’t about money. They wanted someone in their living rooms, knocking on their doors, and seeking out their concerns, and I kept doing that from the day I started,” said Narvaez.

He says his three top priorities are public safety, affordable housing, and fixing the city’s torn-up streets.

Additionally, Alonzo raised far more money than Narvaez. Campaign finance records show as of May 31, Alonzo still had $126,226 in political contributions in her account, while Narvaez had $33,475. The most recent campaign finance records filed with the Texas Ethics Commission show For Our Community spent $11,979 on Alonzo’s behalf in advertising expenses.

It’s a similar situation for Kevin Felder, who defeated incumbent Tiffinni Young, who  also had the support of the Mayor and the super-PAC.

“This seat belongs to the people,” said Felder.

Like Narvaez, Felder said the grassroots played a key role in his victory. “We went door to door since November. And we walked in many instances eight hours a day, knocking on doors.”

When asked if everybody does that, he answered, “No. I went to some neighborhoods and some people told me someone hadn’t knocked on their doors in 20 years.”

Felder’s top priorities include revitalizing Fair Park in an inclusive and transparent way, creating up to 15,000 units of affordable housing in the city, and lowering police response times and hiring more officers to achieve that.

Young’s most recent campaign finance reports show on May 31st, she still had $40,844 in political contributions in her account, while Felder had a balance of $0.

Records filed with the Texas Ethics Commission show the For Our Community super-PAC spent $14,098 on Young’s behalf for advertising.

SMU political science professor Cal Jillson said the results should serve as a message for council members. “I think the Mayor is popular. I think people like the Mayor. But they are less enamored with the idea that he’s going to big-foot their election by bringing a lot of outside money from the top financial establishment of the city.”

Mayor Rawlings is in Canada on a trade mission and unavailable to comment on this story.

When the new council arrives in one week, three of the members or 20 percent of the council, will be sitting in seats they’ve held before.

They are Tennell Atkins in District 8, who defeated Erik Wilson, the Deputy Mayor Pro-Tem in the runoff Saturday; Dwaine Caraway in District 4, who defeated Carolyn King Arnold May 7th; and Sandy Greyson in District 12, who returned to the council in 2015. They all left the council originally because of term limits.

Jillson says, “I don’t know that we’ve ever had three at the same time. That’s new.”

When asked why term limits exist if former council members can ultimately win-back their seats, Jillson said, “The point of term limits is to give voters a chance to see new talent and think through it. It’s not to declare that a former incumbent can never run again.”

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