Campaign signs are blooming early this year.
Voters are already stirred up over city and local board elections May 6, either dreading or craving more from Washington.
The Fort Worth City Council election drew 23 candidates. On a spring break Saturday, more than 100 people turned out for a north side campaign forum.
“It’s a very energized election cycle,” said aerospace engineer Carlos E. Flores, one of four candidates running for retiring councilman Sal Espino’s seat.
“What you’re seeing is not discontent. It’s just that people see development coming in and they want to have a say-so.”
Flores, two-time candidate Steve Thornton and medical school official Jennifer Treviño all spoke at Nuevo León Restaurant. Realtor Tony Perez is the fourth candidate.
Before the forum, Treviño said the intensity “has lots to do with the national climate. People are paying more attention.”
Thornton credits his close loss in 2015, when Espino beat him by 27 votes. State lawyers investigated some mail-in votes, but so far to no result.
“It took a catalyst like a 27-vote election to get people involved,” said Thornton, a retired firefighter. The mail-in votes won’t be doubted this year “because of all the investigators in the streets,” he said.
Mostly, candidates differed on whether the north side is on the right or wrong track. Flores and Treviño serve on city boards and commissions and foresee success and jobs from the $900-million-plus Trinity River Vision project and a $175 million Stockyards project.
Thornton positioned himself as a City Hall outsider, saying voters “don’t need another rubber stamp” backed by “big shots.”
Treviño has raised more than $10,000, much of it in small gifts from women. Her early backers include Celina Vasquez of the Democratic National Committee.
Flores is backed by Mayor Betsy Price, former Mayor Mike Moncrief and school board President Cinto Ramos.
Flores took a dig at “armchair critics” complaining about the city and said success is coming to north Fort Worth: “What we’ve been doing is working.”
National politics finally came up when a forum attendee asked Flores about his backing from Price, a Republican, “when [President Donald J.] Trump is not for the immigrants.”
Flores replied that Price is fair and called Fort Worth a “compassionate city” welcoming to all.
(Price has said Fort Worth treats everyone equally, but obeys federal immigration regulations and is “unequivocally not a sanctuary city.”)
More than usual, this election will involve party activists and party politics on both sides.
But it’s not only about Trump.