Facebook Live with Mayor Betsy Price on election night
Betsy Price has the privilege of being the longest serving mayor in Fort Worth’s history.
Price sailed to an unprecedented fifth term Saturday, taking nearly 56% of the vote in a race against Deborah Peoples, the chairwoman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, according to unofficial results. Political newcomer James McBride had 2% while write-in candidate Mike Haynes was at less than 1%.
“I think most people are very pleased with the direction Fort Worth is going,” Price said at a crowded watch party at Michaels Cuisine.
Price said in the next two years Fort Worth can expect a strong focus on transportation, particularly in street repairs and expansions. She also pledged to reduce the property tax rate.
“If we’re smart and watch our spending, new growth will carry a lot of our services,” Price said.
During the campaign, Price pitched herself as a strong leader whose focus on education and childcare would build a workforce Fort Worth needs to attract jobs. She frequently talked about her Read Fort Worth initiative, a program to get all Fort Worth third-graders reading at grade level by 2025.
As the former Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector, Price told voters no one understood their tax bill better than her. In her time in office, the city cut the municipal property tax rate three times, by about 7%. Though homeowners may not have seen that savings because of increases to property values, Price said the city’s work to cut its rate had saved Fort Worth residents money.
Price also touted herself as a busy community booster, saying she’d been to more than 1,400 public events in the last year, working long hours as a “boots on the ground” mayor.
“This city is healthier, safer and better educated than it was eight years ago,” Price said at the TCU mayoral forum last week.
This was perhaps the toughest race for Price since she was elected in 2011. That year pitted her against former councilman turned water board member Jim Lane, but Price didn’t face another challenger until 2017 when Chris Nettles ran against her.
This year saw three challengers, but Peoples was the strongest.
Peoples, a seasoned political operative, had little money and resources compared to Price, but ran an aggressive campaign centered on changing leadership.
“I feel good, no matter what happens, we have energized a section of the electorate that needed to be lifted up,” Peoples said at a rally early Saturday with Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro. “The fact they are so enthusiastic makes me happy.”
William Schlitz, a Peoples campaign spokesman, said he was encouraged that she captured more than 40% given that the campaign had fewer resources than Price’s. The turnout showed that Fort Worth voters are increasingly ready for change, he said.
“I think the message to anyone who doubted Deborah or the Democrats in Fort Worth is that we’re going to continue to run candidates,” he said. “We’re going to continue to give voters a choice.”
At the TCU mayoral forum, Peoples attacked Price and the leadership at City Hall on almost every issue, blaming Price for everything from low voter turnout to transit woes.
“We have city leadership that does not listen,” Peoples said at the forum.
Price complained about the nature of the election, taking to Facebook on Friday to blame national politics for dividing Fort Worth.
“Friends, times have changed and the divisive political landscape in DC has spread all throughout our nation and, yes, made it all the way to Fort Worth,” she wrote in the post.
Saturday night Price said she believed good government is done “from the middle” and that citizens want conversations about services, not national politics in local races.
When she first came to office, Price said there were few women leading major American cities.
“I think young women need to know, take your passions and your talent and serve where you can,” Price said. “I’d love to see more women serving.”
In races for Fort Worth City Council, incumbents came out on top.
Incumbent Brian Byrd (80.6%) led Tanner Smith (19.4%).
Incumbent Cary Moon was leading Max Striker, 74%-26%
Incumbent Gyna Bivens was leading four challengers with 66% of the vote. She was followed by Tammy Pierce (16.1%), Thomas Brown (7.2%), Bob Willoughby 5.8%) and Waymond Brown, Sr. (4.8%).
Incumbent Jungus Jordan (55.1%) led Daryl R. Davis, II (35.7%) and Rod Smith (9.3%).
Incumbent Dennis Shingleton (68.1%) led Michael Matos (20.5%) and David Hawthorne (11.4%).
Incumbent Kelly Allen Gray (53.8%) Chris Nettles (40.1%) and Kevin “KL” Johnson (6.6%).