City, school and water races turned into proxy fights

Posted Saturday, May. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy So much for nonpartisan elections.

City, school and water elections Saturday were all about party power and party feuds, and only political rookie Jacinto “Cinto” Ramos seemed to rise above the melee.

On a day when allies of U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey and Democratic congressional rival Domingo Garcia jockeyed for position, Ramos didn’t have to choose between them in his campaign for Fort Worth school board.

“I wasn’t here that election and I’m not on either side,” he said, thanking supporters for lifting him into a June 15 runoff against board Vice President Carlos Vasquez for the north side seat.

Then he grinned: “Of course, my supporters may take a side. But that’s up to them.”

Vasquez, one of Garcia’s most outspoken allies, had fumed to the Dallas Voice newspaper about Veasey supporters J.D. Angle and City Council member Joel Burns helping Ramos.

“I know Carlos has run a lot of campaigns, but I think we found a lot of young new voters and got them out to support our campaign,” said Ramos, a 20-year worker in youth intervention or juvenile probation.

Garcia’s campaigners helped win one race, lifting incumbent Sal Espino to an easier-than-expected City Council victory over former Mayor Pro Tem Jim Lane. Garcia also helped keep former school board President Juan Rangel in a runoff by a thin margin.

Party rivalries also spilled over into the Tarrant Water board race governing Fort Worth’s water supply, including lakes from Jacksboro to East Texas.

Allies of U.S. Rep Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth) kept a board majority but lost one seat to a Dallas-funded slate of Tea Party libertarians opposed to the board’s use of eminent domain, both in Fort Worth and for a proposed shared Dallas-Fort Worth water pipeline through wealthy landowners’ ranches in East Texas.

Mary Kelleher of Fort Worth was the only challenger to win, unseating board Vice President Hal Sparks.

The anti-eminent-domain campaign was led by Parker County Republican John Basham, who in 2010 distributed anti-abortion flyers calling Granger a “baby killer.” He finished fourth.

Basham was endorsed by state Rep. Matt Krause, a Fort Worth Republican, and also by county Libertarian Party Chairman Allen Patterson, who wrote a blog post calling eminent domain “land theft.”

Basham was also welcomed as a guest speaker at Democratic clubs that usually campaign against Granger.

Democrats published warnings about Tea Party candidates and helped defeat several in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford area, but county party chairwoman Deborah Peoples said the party avoided the water election because “We couldn’t identify any Democrats in that race.”

At a Garcia-sponsored breakfast Saturday, she said she helped make calls for several candidates.

“People would ask right away, ‘Are you with the Tea Party?’

“I’d say no, and they just hung up.”

In some Tarrant County towns, that’s the only party.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy Get alerts at

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