DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Early voting is underway for the May 4 joint election.

Starting at 8 a.m. Monday, a steady stream of people filed into Our Redeemer Lutheran Church on Park Lane in Dallas – one of the county’s designated early voting locations.

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Early voting runs Monday, April 22 through Tuesday, April 30 for dozens of races in cities large and small across North Texas.

Some of the big mayoral races include the cities of Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth.

Nine candidates are vying to replace Mayor Mike Rawlings who has reached his term limit in Dallas.

In Fort Worth, Mayor Betsy Price is going for another term, which if she wins will make her the longest serving mayor in the city’s history.

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Many of those casting a ballot in person on Monday say early voting is a regular habit for them, and they have strong feelings about the importance of participating in local government.

“I think voting in general and politics is becoming more important for everybody, and improving the city should always be important to people living there,” said Marc Schlachter, an early voter in Dallas County.

Merrie Spaeth cast her ballot at the same polling place, and agrees.

“I vote because it’s the future of our city, and if you don’t vote you can’t complain – and I love to complain. I think it’s really important that people take the time, get a sense of who the candidates are,” Spaeth said.

Polls are open for early voting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday, April 27.  Hours on Sunday, April 28 are 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, April 29 and 30.

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Check your county elections website for details on specific locations or log on to voteTexas.gov.