Voters in Fort Worth’s District 2 have a field of three new candidates, and one returning candidate — none of whom have been elected to public office — to choose from to fill the council seat being vacated by Councilman Sal Espino after six terms.
Three of the candidates live south of Loop 820 and one, Tony Perez, lives north of the loop, a new dynamic for District 2 voters who historically have selected their council representative from the near north side sector, a predominately Hispanic area. The three candidates inside the loop have raised the most campaign contributions.
Voters also have the chance to elect for the first time a Hispanic woman to sit on the City Council. Jennifer Trevino, who until recently served as an executive with the University of North Texas Health Science Center, is vying for the seat with economic development and education as key campaign issues. Trevino raised $21,786 in cash and in-kind donations and spent $11,135, latest reports show.
“I’m a person who’s going to work hard for you,” Trevino told a recent candidate forum. “I’m a person who isn’t deterred by adversity.”
Returning to the ballot is Steve Thornton, a retired educator and firefighter who nearly unseated Espino in the 2015 election. He’s presenting himself to voters as being a down to earth candidate who grew up in the barrios of San Antonio, where he gets his fighting spirit.
Thornton raised $24,245 in cash and reported in-kind donations from the Fort Worth Firefighters political action committee valued at $22,928. He has spent $17,167, reports show.
“You don’t need another rubber stamp,” Thornton said. “For 28 years, I’ve been there serving you as a public servant. It’s people first.”
New to the ballot is Carlos Flores, an aerospace engineer and north Fort Worth native, whose service on several city boards and commissions, he says, has laid a foundation for a tenure on the City Council. He’s also raised the most in campaign contributions, totaling about $52,165, reports show. He has spent $47,839.
“I believe in the potential of the north side,” Flores said. “I’m not afraid to walk my neighborhood. I make it a point to know my neighbors. I’m also a positive man. I like to see the good.”
Rounding out the field is Tony Perez, a Realtor, a California native who has lived in Fort Worth about eight years, who volunteers with Code Blue, a civilian patrol program with the city’s Police Department. Perez reported only receiving a $100 donation by March 31, but he loaned his campaign $356, campaign finance reports show.
Perez said he’s a good listener and will hear from all sides on an issue before making a decision. One of his top concerns is getting transportation to senior citizens living north of Loop 820 who tell him they feel isolated from rest of the city.
“I come from a position that I don’t know everything, but I know how to ask the questions,” Perez said. “I know what the challenges are. The more I asked, the more I wanted to get involved. I’m not going to be a pushover.”
Fort Worth will hold its election for mayor and seven council seats May 6. Early voting begins April 24. District 2 stretches north from downtown through Panther Island, the Historic Stockyards, Meacham International Airport, and historic neighborhoods of Far Greater Northside, La Loma, North Beverly Hills and Diamond Hill to areas north of Loop 820, along the Marine Creek corridor and Blue Mound Road to U.S. 287.
In November, Espino said he would not seek a seventh term and then threw his support to Flores, 48.
Flores said his top concern is public safety and will work to make sure Fort Worth remains one of the safest cities in the country.
“I will work to ensure our Police Department is staffed and equipped appropriately,” Flores said. “I am committed to ensuring our kids have a safe place to live and play.”
Flores encourages resident to start crime watch programs if they feel unsafe and get involved in city government.
“Don’t be an armchair critic,” Flores said. “Get involved. Know and see how city government works, because it does.”
Trevino, 41, said infrastructure, economic development and an educated workforce are among her campaign initiatives.
“District 2 is positioned to grow significantly in the next few years,” Trevino said. “We need to revisit the establishment of a development organization to bring stakeholders together to coordinate development in a cohesive manner. I want to focus on job growth. Education is the key to bringing our neighborhood further ahead than it already is.”
Perez, 52, said he supports establishing an incident review program comprised of public safety and other city officials and citizens that could independently investigate incidents that “cause unrest in the city.”
“This system, if properly managed, would encourage trust on all sides because all possible perspectives could be discussed in a calm manner and the public would be more likely to wait a few days to hear actual facts over acting immediately based on rumor and rhetoric,” Perez said.
Thornton, 64, also says combating crime in District 2 is a key issue, as is education.
“I hope our city wakes up about education,” Thornton said.