Opposition research? How support for Beto became a topic in Southlake elections

Not sure what Texas’ elected politicians actually do? Here are explanations

Railroad commissioner? County Court-at-Law judge? County tax assessor-collector? When you head to the polls, know what the responsibilities are of the positions on your ballot. Here's a brief explainer on some of the key elected positions in Texas
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Railroad commissioner? County Court-at-Law judge? County tax assessor-collector? When you head to the polls, know what the responsibilities are of the positions on your ballot. Here's a brief explainer on some of the key elected positions in Texas

Six months ago, they were supporting Beto O’Rourke for the Senate. Now their stances are being used against them in their own quests for public office.

Candidates in Saturday’s Southlake City Council and school board elections are being called out for their previous support of O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Senate candidate.

State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, sent a mailer encouraging voters to make the right choice in the upcoming election.

“For these Southlake candidates, their agenda couldn’t be more black and white,” the mailer stated, as it showed Democratic voting history and campaign donations for Inna Dietrich, who is running for Southlake City Council Place 3, and Kandice Kapinos, who is running for Carroll school board Place 7.

“Liberal activists Inna Dietrich and Kandice Kapinos are hiding their Democrat political affiliation by running in non-partisan elections for Southlake City Council and Carroll ISD School Board,” Capriglione’s mailer stated. “We can’t let these liberal activists set our property tax rates!”

Capriglione did not respond Wednesday to a Star-Telegram request for comment.

“I don’t understand how my supporting Beto would have anything to do with how I would perform as a school board trustee,” said Kapinos, a health economist and adjunct professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She has three children attending Carroll schools.

A smiling Kapinos is depicted on the flier standing next to a cut out of O’Rourke. Dietrich’s comments in support of campaigning for O’Rourke are quoted in the mailer.

“It’s very disappointing that an elected official would try to divide this community,” Dietrich said. “It is horrible for him to try to divide us as a community. I am running to represent all residents of Southlake.”

Early voting in the May 4 municipal and school board elections ended Tuesday.

The municipal and school board elections are nonpartisan, where candidates run without party labels.

But in Tarrant County, candidates have looked up opponent voting histories and party affiliations and are being asked about who they voted for in last year’s midterm election.

“You see partisanship creeping into local politics on so many levels,” said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at TCU. “This is the world we live in right now.

“It’s a sign of our times.”

Mailer support

The Capriglione mailer tells voters to choose incumbents Chad Patton for city council and David Almand for school board. Patton is described as an investment adviser while Almand is described as a retired Air Force colonel.

Patton, the incumbent for Place 3 on the Southlake City Council, didn’t respond to a request for comment as of Tuesday afternoon.

Almand, whose children attended Carroll schools, said he is grateful for Capriglione’s support and didn’t know anything about the mailer until he received it in the mail.

Almand, who is seeking re-election to Place 7 on the school board, said he appreciates Capriglione’s efforts on school finance reform and property tax reform. He said he is conservative, but hopes people vote on his record.

Kapinos, who grew up in Arlington and graduated from Arlington Bowie High School in 1997, is seeking public office for the first time. She said it appears that supporting Democratic candidates in the past is being used as a political litmus test in Southlake’s races.

“I’m not sure why it is appropriate in a nonpartisan election, but I did support Beto, like half of the state of Texas,” she said.

Kapinos said the “bizarre” mailer distracts from the issues in the school board election, including evaluation of each candidate’s qualifications for office.

Democratic involvement in Fort Worth

In another example of state officials getting involved in local races, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa will rally for Fort Worth mayor candidate Deborah Peoples at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Peoples, Tarrant County Democratic Party chairwoman, is challenging incumbent Betsy Price. James H. McBride is also in the race.

Hinojosa will speak for Peoples at the Twilite Lounge in Fort Worth as part of the party’s Local Investment in the Future of Texas program geared to help put progressive Texans into elected offices across the state.

“We have a great progressive in Fort Worth,” said Cliff Walker, deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. “That’s one of the few urban areas that, for a while, has been Republican — but not for that much longer. Times are a changing.”

Other Tarrant candidates on the list of the program’s supported candidates: Ruby Faye Woolridge, for Arlington mayor; Celia Morgan, for Arlington City Council Place 5; Eliud Jimenez for North Richland Hills City Council District 26; and Aisha Ojha, Hurst-Euless-Bedford school board Place 7.

“We want to encourage Democrats running for office, changing the culture,” Walker said.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.
Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.