Northeast Tarrant

Stickland sticks nose into local council race, points out candidate is Muslim

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, left the Texas Freedom Caucus this legislative session to have more freedom to focus on his conservative priorities without being constrained by group obligations.
State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, left the Texas Freedom Caucus this legislative session to have more freedom to focus on his conservative priorities without being constrained by group obligations. Star-Telegram archives

Local firebrand Jonathan Stickland is drawing attention for weighing in on the Euless City Council race —and pointing out that one of the candidates is a Muslim and “lifelong Democrat.”

At issue is the race between Salman Bhojani and Molly Maddux for Place 6 on the Euless City Council.

Stickland a Republican from neighboring Bedford, recently posted on Facebook, stating EULESS RESIDENTS BEWARE: Currently, the Mid-Cities Democrats are pushing a slate of progressive liberals in our non-partisan city council elections. Salman Bhojani should be familiar to many of you. He ran and narrowly lost last cycle. He is a Muslim, lawyer, and a lifelong Democrat who supports raising your taxes. ...”

Bhojani 38, is an attorney and Maddux, 63, is a retired teacher in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district. The election is May 5 and early voting continues through Tuesday.

Stickland said he only brought up religion after Bhojani did so first.

“I have not said, ‘Don’t vote for him because he’s a Muslim,’ ” Stickland said Friday in an interview with the Star-Telegram. “I said Muslim in describing who he is. I’m opposed to the positions he takes.”

Stickland’s post also stated that Bhojani was successful in having the Koran read during a council meeting, and accused him of campaign finance violations including taking a contribution from a “foreign national.”

Bhojani said his Cub Scout troop was invited to give the invocation at a council meeting in March, and the passage from the Koran was about solidarity among faiths.

Salman Bhojani Courtesy

On the contribution from a foreign national, Bhojani said that someone from Canada saw his original Facebook post when he filed to run for office and contributed $500. When he found out that he couldn’t accept foreign contributions, he self-reported the donation to the Texas Ethics Commission and the Federal Election Commission. Bhojani said he returned the donation, which was made to his Paypal account.

Stickland, who said he’s been hearing from voters who appreciate the information he shared because he felt that Bhojani, who ran for office before, “had been dishonest about what his agenda was and what his positions on the issues were.”

Campaign finance has been an issue on both sides of the race; Stickland donated $15,000 to Maddux for “block walkers, staff consulting and other services.”

“They put a lot of money in this campaign,” Bhojani said. “People need to look at what Maddux is doing to help the city; this is what the race should be about.”

Molly Maddux Courtesy

Maddux said the contributions from Stickland are just that, contributions.

“I’m not going to turn down money from anyone,” she said. “Just because someone gives me money doesn’t dictate how I am going to vote. I will do research and look at both sides.”

Maddux also accused Bhojani of spending campaign money at Krispy Creme and other restaurants including Saviano’s.

Bhojani said people who help him with block walking are volunteers.

“They work for a few hours and come back hungry. I wanted to give them lunch,” Bhojani said.

‘A very close friend’

Stickland said in a recent newsletter that Maddux “is a very close friend of mine and has fought for conservatism for decades. ...

“Molly has been a strong voice in our community and is the only one that can stop the dangerous agenda of progressive Salmon Bjojani​,” the newsletter stated.

The Texas Democratic Party took Stickland to task for weighing in on the race, saying Bhojani’s story “is that of America.”

“He immigrated here, worked hard going from convenience store clerk to respected business owner and lawyer,” said Tariq Thowfeek, communications director for the Democratic Party. “Our country, our state and the city of Euless are better for having citizens like Salman.

“There’s no religious test to serve in America or Texas,” Thowfeek said. “Stickland should read our Constitution. The fact that these remarks were made by an elected official about his constituent is disappointing and shows how much work remains to expel Islamophobia in Texas.”

Bhojani, who serves on the parks board, said if he is elected, he wants to focus on bringing more diversity and a different perspective to the council with his experience as an attorney.

“I can help attract more businesses to Euless, and I can bring a perspective from a young family,” he said.

Place 5: Opposing views

The Place 5 race does not have the political fireworks being tossed in Place 6, but the candidates do have opposing views the city is going. Euless is the fifth largest city in Tarrant County with a population of about 55,000.

Incumbent Harry Zimmer is being challenged in Place 5 by Tim St. Clair, who previously ran unsuccessfully for mayor.

Zimmer, 73, a retired engineer, said he wants to continue serving on a “winning team.”

Harry Zimmer Courtesy

He said the city has a healthy tax base and that the property tax rate has been reduced twice, and he wants to make sure city services are kept within the tax rate.

“The miracle of Euless is the consensus on how the city works,” Zimmer said. “The department heads listen to people. We so want to keep our history and agree to disagree and try not to get into partisanship and be respectful.”

St. Clair, a musician/song writer, declined to be interviewed by the Star-Telegram, stating that he would talk to “involved citizens” on Twitter @TimStClairmusic.

However, at a candidate forum, St. Clair said he wants to hold council members accountable and look at wasteful spending.

Elizabeth Campbell: 817-390-7696, @fwstliz

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley