3 incumbents lose runoffs in Fort Worth

Posted Sunday, Jun. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Saturday night brought a wave of change to the Fort Worth school board and City Council as three incumbents were defeated in runoffs.

The school board will add two new faces after Jacinto Ramos Jr. crushed incumbent Carlos Vasquez, and Ashley Paz staged an election-night comeback to unseat Juan Rangel.

In the council race, Gyna Bivens scored a big win over Frank Moss.

With 100 percent of the votes in, complete but unofficial returns showed that Ramos defeated Vasquez, 862-146, in District 1.

Paz won 944-921 in District 9 after trailing by big margins earlier in the night.

In City Council District 5, Bivens beat Moss, 1,240 to 936.

“I want to congratulate Jacinto Ramos on his election to the board and will make myself available to assist him in any manner as he transitions to this important leadership role within our community,” Vasquez said on Twitter earlier in the night after the mail-in and early in-person vote counts showed Ramos with a huge lead.

Of her victory, Paz said: “I am just so excited. I am ready to start serving the people of Fort Worth and the children of Fort Worth.”

Rangel, who has served three terms on the board, said he has not decided whether to seek a recount.

“We’re going to review it precinct by precinct. There are a lot of people that voted, and you never can tell about these things,” Rangel said.

In the Fort Worth council race, Bivens said: “We kept on message. The most important thing was making sure the voters knew we were listening.”

Bivens widened her lead after the mail-in and early in-person tally showed her with just a one-vote edge, 716-715.

Moss said: “We had a lot of people voting [early]. I just don’t know what happened. We should have had a larger lead.”

In other area runoffs, Pelican Bay Place 4 Councilman Glen Oberg defeated Tish Allen, 77-63. Oberg and Allen each had 54 votes in the May 11 election.

And in the race for Place 3 on the Crowley City Council, challenger James Dornan defeated incumbent Jesse Johnson, 167-124, in the Tarrant County ballot.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether there were any Johnson County ballots in the race, but a city official said earlier in the night that Crowley has fewer than 30 registered voters in Johnson County.

The victories by Paz and Ramos mean that the nine-member school board will have three new members, including Matthew Avila, who ran unopposed for District 8 after incumbent J.R. Martinez withdrew.

Ramos and Paz shared many of the same supporters, who said they wanted to improve transparency on the board.

Paz took over the election-night lead for the first time with just 2 percent of the votes left to be counted. She trailed 617-379 in the early vote and sent out Facebook messages during the day, warning of the low turnout and imploring people to vote.

In the Fort Worth council race, Bivens campaigned on hastening the pace of economic development in the southeast Fort Worth district and on heightening the focus on improved code compliance. She also wants to implement a pilot program with churches to create contacts for seniors who may not have family nearby.

The district includes Stop Six, Handley, parts of Meadowbrook, Mallard Cove, River Trails and CentrePort.

Moss campaigned on accomplishments such as the completion of a plan for the redevelopment of the Cavile Place public housing project.

Moss and other incumbents had the support of Mayor Betsy Price. Bivens scored the support — including more than $63,000 in campaign contributions — of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association PAC, which unsuccessfully backed challengers Jim Lane and Kathleen Hicks in two other races. Police officers were still stinging from the council’s vote last fall to make major changes to the city’s employee pension.

Ramos, a political newcomer, defeated Vasquez, a teacher in his first term on the board.

“Today proves that our community is powerful and full of possibility,” Ramos said in a statement. “Tomorrow we begin the work to realize the full opportunity for our children and future generations. I look forward to serving on the school board and working with everyone in our community to make sure Fort Worth schools give our kids the opportunity they need to thrive as adults and give back to their community.”

It was a three-way race in the May 11 election, with Ramos drawing 46 percent of the 1,882 votes cast to Vasquez’s 31 percent. Podiatrist Camille Rodriguez, a former trustee who lost her seat in 2008 to Vasquez, came up short, drawing 23 percent of the vote.

Paz, an events planner and neighborhood activist, was also a political newcomer. Rangel, a consultant, was first elected to the board in 2000. The district includes parts of the city’s north, northeast and near south sides.

In May, Paz garnered nearly enough votes to win outright, drawing 49.83 percent of the 1,748 ballots cast to Rangel’s 46 percent. Melody Palacios, a homemaker who stopped campaigning because of health reasons, received 73 votes, or 4 percent.

Ramos has said he wants to increase parent involvement and address the school district budget, which he calls “inefficient.”

In Fort Worth, Bivens won 47.3 of the vote in the May 11 election to Moss’ 43.9. John Tunmire, a Handley real estate broker, secured enough votes to force the runoff.

Scott Nishimura, 817-390-7808 Twitter: @JScottNishimura Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326 Twitter: @jessamybrown

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