While the 2010 Elections are over and most partisan politicos are waiting for 2012 redistricting, I wanted to take some time to write and talk about the non-partisan elections in the City of Dallas. Non-partisan elections are often the starting place for people to get involved in politics and run for office. The turnout is small and money needed to win tiny compared to some State House or even State Senate races, not to mention a federal race. Rafael Anchia (House 103), Carol Kent (House 102), and Wendy Davis (Senate 10) are examples of great Democrats in the State Legislature who got their start in non-partisan offices.
A quick primer on Dallas City Council
Dallas City Council is made up of 14 districted seats that run every 2 odd-numbered years. They are term-limited to 4 consecutive terms (8 years) and earn $37,500 per year. Dallas Mayor, also known as Place 15, serves a 4 year term for a maximum 2 consecutive terms, and earns $60k per year. You can see a map of Dallas City Council Districts at Dallas County Elections website.
Who's on First (Incumbents)
This year only a single City Council seat held by Steve Salazar in District 6 will be an open seat due to term limits. To my knowledge, no other incumbent has signaled that they do not plan to run for re-election. Below in a list of each incumbent currently up for re-election. The numbers to the right of these names indicate the terms each incumbent has completed so far.
District 1 – Delia Jasso (1)
District 2 – Pauline Medrano (3)
District 3 – David Neumann (3)
District 4 – Dwaine Caraway (2)
District 5 – Vonciel Hill (2)
District 6 – (Open Seat)
District 7 – Carolyn Davis (2)
District 8 – Tennell Atkins (2)
District 9 – Sheffie Kadane (2)
District 10 – Jerry Allen (2)
District 11 – Linda Koop (3)
District 12 – Ron Natinsky (3)
District 13 – Ann Margolin (1)
District 14 – Angela Hunt (3)
As the numbers indicate, a 2011 win will begin the fourth term for Angela Hunt, Ron Natinsky, Linda Koop, and Pauline Medrano.
Who's on Second (Challengers)
So far, the list of challengers is few. It is not uncommon for City Council seats to run unopposed. Dr. Elba Garcia (now County Commissioner Garcia) was virtually unopposed after winning her first term against now outgoing city council member Steve Salazar. Jerry Allen was actually elected to his first term unopposed on the ballot.
At the end of 2010, only Scott Griggs has come out as a declared candidate for District 3 against incumbent David Neumann. Scott Griggs is a patent lawyer. His campaign website is GriggsForDallas.com and link to his Facebook Page. I plan on discussing more of the District 3 race once campaign finance reports have been filed by both David Neumann and Scott Griggs after January 15.
Who's on Third (Mayoral Race)
The gorilla in the room for 2011 is “What will Mayor Leppert do?” Mayor Tom Leppert is up for re-election in 2011. However, Mayor Leppert has indicated an interest in doing a primary challenge against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. The Mayor could decide to follow in the steps of Ron Kirk by running for re-election, and then leaving office 6 months later in order to run against Senator Hutchison. Alternatively, Mayor Leppert could decide to not run for re-election, and spent the next year raising money and building support among Texas Republicans.
If Tom Leppert does not run for re-election, that will cause a shift in City Council elections. Both city councilors Angela Hunt and Ron Natinsky have indicated an interest in running for Mayor. In Dallas City politics, Angela Hunt has been a solid voice of opposition to many of Mayor Leppert's initiatives, while Ron Natinsky has been on the opposite side. Naturally, other individuals outside of Dallas City Council would also seek the mayoral seat, but none have announced as of this writing.
Finding Home Base
As mentioned earlier, many local politicos are waiting to see what Mayor Leppert will do and for more challengers to announce their candidacies. It can easily be assumed that most challengers are waiting till after January 1 to avoid having to file a campaign finance report on January 15.
The official 2011 election calendar has not yet been released on the City of Dallas website. However, using the 2009 calendar, we can assume the following dates for 2011.
Jan 15 – Semi-Annual Campaign Finance Reports
Feb 14 – First day to file for office
Mar 14 – Last day to file for office
Apr 14 – 30 Day Campaign Finance Reports
May 02 – Early Voting Begins
May 06 – 8 Day Campaign Finance Reports
May 10 – Early Voting Ends
May 14 – Election Day
I hope to write further on Dallas City elections once campaign finance reports have been filed after January 15. I will go into how much cash on hand each incumbent reported, along with an analysis of past election costs in their district.