Just days before a special election to replace Dallas City Council Member Dwaine Caraway, an amazing 12 candidates are competing for attention.
Caraway resigned from City Council District 4 after pleading guilty to taking bribes from a vendor in connection with the Dallas County School scandal.
There were 13 candidates for the special election at the filing deadline in August. Lester Houston Junior dropped out but remains on the ballot.
District 4 includes much of South Oak Cliff and the South Lancaster Road corridor.
Candidate Vincent Parker, the Pastor of Golden Gate Baptist Church, said the non-profit Community Development Corporation he helped start to bring re-development to the area is one of the reasons he decided to enter the election.
“The work we’ve done in the community, that represents years of hard work. That’s why I’m running, to say we have a track record,” Parker said. “The whole purpose of starting our community non-profit was to be a channel of resources to a neighborhood that has been neglected for so long.”
Candidate Obi Igbekwe said a recent $400,000 grant to Parker’s non-profit is a reason Parker should drop out of the election.
“If you are taking money from people who want to do business in your district, that’s conflict of interest right there,” Igbekwe said.
Igbekwe said he is a real estate investor and former Dallas County Schools bus driver. He said he entered the special election to make a difference in the district.
“I have lived in this district for 25 years plus and I have seen a lot of things go downhill,” Igbekwe said.
Parker scoffed at the Igbekwe’s claim of a conflict of interest.
“I don’t plan to drop out,” Parker said.
Parker said he can restore confidence in city government and help turn things around.
“We’ve been issued some lemons. We’re going to make some lemonade out of this situation,” Parker said.
The special municipal election comes amid partisan campaigns for Federal, State and local positions.
“It’s a ton of political activity and then down at the bottom of the ballot you have this lonely Council race,” said Dallas Morning News Political Writer Gromer Jeffers.
By blending the non-partisan election without party affiliation in with Democrats and Republicans on the rest of the ballot, Jeffers said the 12 municipal candidates have an additional challenge getting votes.
“It’s really difficult to do. I don’t think that’s done or allowed anywhere, and to me that’s the big test. How do you blend the two things together,” Jeffers said.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has said he would prefer that city elections be held at the same time as other elections to improve turn out.
Among the other candidates in this special election, Former City Council Member Carolyn King Arnold could be considered a favorite because she has been elected in the District before. But she also lost to Caraway in 2017 after serving just two years. Caraway was forced out in 2015 by term limits after serving 8 years on the Dallas City Council.
Candidate Becky Lewis is a former aide to Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, but Johnson endorsed another City Council candidate, Dawn Blair. The Dallas Morning News endorsed Candidate Joli Angel Robinson.
Also on the District 4 Special Election ballot are Brandon Vance, Corwyn Davis, Justina Walford, Donald Washington, Kebran W. Alexander and Keyaira D. Saunders.
With so many candidates, a runoff election will likely be required to select a winner from the top two candidates in November. The runoff is scheduled for December 11th.