North Texas

Dallas City Council Challengers Sweep Incumbents in Runoff

New Dallas council members promise changes to voters

Three Dallas City Council victorious run-off challengers were thanking supporters on Monday after delayed results for Saturday's election became public late Sunday.

"It's a new day in the city of Dallas, and everybody is ready to get to work," said District 6 winner Omar Narvaez.

Nearly 700 mail-in ballots were set aside for special scrutiny because on an ongoing investigation into allegations of ballot fraud that surfaced before the May general election.

All three of the winning challengers were opposed by the political action committee "For Our Community," which is run by Mayor Mike Rawlings' political consultant. The PAC raised hundreds of thousands of dollars with large contributions from wealthy North Texas business leaders.

"District 8 is not for sale," said challenger Tennell Atkins, who beat first term District 8 incumbent Erik Wilson who was supported by the PAC.

Atkins, a previous councilman, was term limited from running again two years ago. The businessman was one of four challengers facing Wilson in May.

"I think the community wanted change. The community saw a leader they know, a leader they could trust," Atkins said.

Atkins now promises to fight for a November bond referendum even larger than the $800 million the City Council has been discussing for roads and other public improvements.

"We are going to do what is right on the bond package," Atkins said. "District 8 is 58 square miles. I think the bond package is too low. We need more."

Kevin Felder beat first-term District 7 incumbent Tiffinni Young, who beat Felder in a runoff two years ago. Felder was one of five candidates to challenge Young this year. It was Felder's fifth campaign for Dallas City Council.

"It feels good," he said. "As you know, I've attempted this before. But it feels good."

Felder said the book he is reading titled "Evicted" by author Matthew Desmond mirrors his concern about gentrification and the shortage of affordable housing in Dallas.

"I'm a community activist. I always have been. I'm here to serve the constituents, those that have been left out of the process," Felder said. "Now, on the other hand, I want everyone to know I am not anti-business. I am not anti-economic development. But I think that there has been an imbalance, and I want to correct that imbalance and make sure that the people are represented and basics are taken care of – streets, sanitation, dogs, housing."

Omar Narvaez beat District 6 incumbent Monica Alonzo, who also drew five challengers in May.

"People were ready to have a champion at City Hall, somebody that would not only listen to their concerns but seek out their concerns and get something accomplished," he said.

Narvaez is an elected trustee at Dallas County Schools, the agency that provides bus service for several school districts. He said he will resign from that post this week.

Like Felder, Narvaez said affordable housing is an urgent Dallas need. West Dallas landlord Khraish Khraish, of HMK Ltd., credited Narvaez for helping to persuade him to sell homes to tenants instead of evicting them, which boosted the Narvaez city council campaign.

But Narvaez said housing is not his only District 6 issue.

"We've heard about streets almost every door that we've knocked on, as well as public safety. And those are the top three things we've got to get started on," he said.

A fourth City Council challenger, former Councilman Dwaine Caraway, beat incumbent Carolyn King Arnold for the District 4 seat in May. Caraway, who was term-limited two years ago, endorsed Arnold for the seat but returned to run against her this year. The "For Our Community"PAC was not involved in the District 4 contest.

Only two of the six candidates supported by wealthy contributors to the political action committee run by Rawlings' consultant won in this year's elections, Casey Thomas and Rickey Callahan. The PAC also supported Matthew Wood who lost the District 14 contest in May to Councilman Philip Kingston, a frequent Rawlings critic.

The four new members take office next week. Ten other Dallas City Council Members either won in May or ran unopposed. Mayor Mike Rawlings was not up for election this year.

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