Fort Worth school election was about new faces, old rivals

Posted Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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kennedy Five Fort Worth elected officials campaigned for Dallas’ Domingo Garcia for Congress last year.

Now, four are gone.

In a sweep that stunned the Hispanic political establishment and galvanized younger voters, three school trustees who sided with Garcia in the party primary against Fort Worth Democrat Marc Veasey have been replaced by challengers under 40.

Meet your new school trustees for central Fort Worth: construction executive Matthew Avila, 39; event planner Ashley Paz, 30; and juvenile-probation officer Jacinto Ramos, 38.

Three-term Trustee and former board President Juan Rangel, 65, was once the outsider calling for a Hispanic-dominated district. On Saturday, he lost Anglo neighborhoods to Paz by 3-to-1 and fell 23 votes short overall.

“That’s what happens when you serve a district for years — the population changes,” City Council member Sal Espino said with a shrug at Rangel’s campaign gathering.

“Some folks recruited a candidate, and they put a lot of money behind her,” Espino said after a 180-degree-turnaround election. Rangel led early balloting by 238 votes but lost nearly 2-to-1 Saturday, mostly in Fairmount and Ryan Place.

More than 100 of Rangel’s May 11 voters were no-shows Saturday.

“We had such a big lead, they knew they had to turn out a lot of their people today,” Espino said.

He borrowed words from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech: “I have a dream that someday Hispanics will vote in the same numbers as other voters.”

Rangel, downcast but not conceding until a recount, frowned at the mention of Dallas Democrat David Alameel’s $30,000 campaign donations to Paz and Ramos, a blatant checkmate against Garcia’s support for Rangel and Carlos Vasquez.

“Dr. Alameel does what he wants,” Rangel said. “I don’t know why.”

When Garcia and Veasey went head-to-head last year, Garcia called a news conference to introduce supporters Rangel, Vasquez and J.R. Martinez, who withdrew and left his south-side seat to Avila.

Another Garcia supporter, Kathleen Hicks, lost her bid to return to the City Council. Espino is the only local officeholder aligned with Garcia as he considers a 2014 rematch against Veasey.

Garcia “has helped us do a lot” in Fort Worth, Espino said, “but people need to vote.”

Close to 3,000 did.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy Get alerts at RebelMouse.com/budkennedy

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