FORT WORTH — City Council members Sal Espino, Kelly Allen Gray and Danny Scarth cruised to victory in their re-election bids Saturday, while incumbent Frank Moss was trailing challenger Gyna Bivens in his three-way race and appeared headed to a runoff.With the mail-in votes, early in-person votes and 95.36 percent of election day ballots counted, Bivens had 1,151 votes, or 47.66 percent, to Moss’ 1,066 votes and challenger John Tunmire’s 198. A runoff will be forced if no candidate reaches 50 percent.Bivens, a nonprofit executive, in recent weeks had conceded what she thought would be a several-hundred-vote margin to Moss in the mail-in and early in-person vote, where Moss has typically won. But Moss held only a 35-vote margin in the pre-election day vote when the numbers were released Saturday night.“We were really encouraged when we saw the early vote, because that’s where Frank wins elections,” Bivens said Saturday, with 42 percent of the election-day votes counted. “To get that close to him early, I just have to say hat’s off to my team.”Moss said turnout Saturday was “pretty low,” and Bivens “was able to get a lot of the early vote.”On the prospects for a runoff if none of the candidates get to 50 percent, Moss said, “that’s what it looks like we’re coming up to, but you never know.”In three other contested races, Espino was holding a lead against challenger Jim Lane, at 1,462 votes or 54.37 percent to Lane’s 1,217 in the north Fort Worth District 2 council race.In the hot southeast Fort Worth District 8 race, Gray had 1,513 votes or 54.64 percent to challenger Kathleen Hicks’ 1,256.In the east/far north Fort Worth District 4 race, Scarth had 1,287 votes or 57.66 percent to challenger Paul Gardner’s 945.Gray, who like Moss invested heavily in running phone banks to encourage the mail-in and early in-person vote, which typically account for big portions of the vote in the districts, said she was “really excited” about the early vote numbers.“We worked really hard to turn out that vote, but then, we also worked really hard to turn out our election-day vote,” she said. “I feel really good about the numbers.”In District 8, Hicks, 40, who grew up in Rolling Hills and lives in Meadowbrook, represented the district from 2005 to 2012. She campaigned on wanting to “finish the job” she started, touting major accomplishments such as the East Berry tax increment financing district.Gray, 44, elected to fill the remaining year of Hicks’ term last year when Hicks stepped down to make what turned out to be an unsuccessful bid for Congress, asked voters for a shot at showing what she could do with a full term.In District 2, Espino, 45, an attorney who grew up on the north side, and Lane, 68, an attorney who’s lived on the bluff overlooking Jacksboro Highway for more than 30 years, agreed on the district’s needs: streets, police, fire, code compliance, economic development, education and parks. Lane argued that he believed Espino had lost his focus on the heart of the old North Side after moving his residence to the far North part of the district.In District 5, Bivens, 58, who lives in Ramey Place across from Dunbar High School, campaigned on there being too much blight and not enough progress toward redevelopment. Bivens wants to work with neighborhood associations in the district on developing master plans that could be presented to business, and she also wants to establish a program with churches to help keep up with seniors who don’t have relatives living nearby.Moss, 68, who lives in Historic Rosedale Park, has served on the council since 2007 in his most recent go-around and also served from 1998 to 2004. He campaigned on accomplishments such as the city teaming with the Fort Worth Housing Authority on a study to redevelop the aging Cavile Place public housing development in Stop Six.
Scott Nishimura, (817) 390-7808 Twitter: @JScottNishimura