Elections 2021Local NewsMattie Parker and Deborah Peoples Set to Compete in Fort Worth Mayor Runoff

Mattie Parker and Deborah Peoples are the two remaining candidates in the race for mayor of Fort Worth. The runoff is scheduled for June 5.
May 3, 2021
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The crowded field of 10 has been narrowed to two: Mattie Parker and Deborah Peoples will engage in a runoff to determine the next mayor of Fort Worth, the fifth-largest city in Texas and 13th largest in the nation.

Peoples received the most votes in the election with 33.6 percent of the vote total. Parker came in second with 30.82 percent.

Early voting for the runoff election will begin May 24 and election day will be June 5.

Peoples, who currently serves as the Tarrant County Democrat Party chair, told The Texan, “We like where we are, and I am excited to make my case to voters in the runoff why my 30 years of experience as a business executive and my lifetime of service to the City of Fort Worth make me the ideal candidate to lead our city out of crisis and grow our economy.”

Parker, who spent five years as the chief of staff for Mayor Betsy Price and the city council, said she was “pleasantly surprised” at the difference in votes received between herself and other candidates. 

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“I want to thank the people for believing in me this far. It’s been an amazing experience to run in the city I love. I’m trying to be an authentic mom who is doing this for the right reasons,” Parker told The Texan.

Peoples believes her vision for the city and years of corporate experience and in serving the community set her apart from Parker. “I like Mattie, but I don’t want to maintain the status quo. I know what big companies look for when moving to a city like ours. And my executive experience makes me the ideal candidate to invest in infrastructure, education, and development to make our city an ideal place to work and start a family.”

Conversely, Parker believes she and Peoples differ on almost every policy issue. “I come from a place of optimism,” Parker said. “We have to tackle some tough challenges like growth and infrastructure, but I believe we are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic well-positioned. I believe we have to eliminate red tape at city hall that keeps small businesses from success.”

“A more conservative-leaning leadership in city hall has been good for the city,” Parker added, noting that Fort Worth has a much less significant homeless issue than cities like Austin. “We didn’t create a public health crisis.” 

Both candidates want to convince voters who chose a different candidate on May 1 to come back to the polls and support a new candidate.

Parker believes that she has a lot of common ground with those who voted for Dr. Brian Byrd, who has served on Fort Worth’s city council since 2017. She plans to seek his endorsement since they agree on issues like taxes, public safety, infrastructure, and entrepreneurship.

On the campaign trail, Parker said she got to know a lot of citizens who supported realtor and Mercy Culture pastor Steve Penate. “I love that he brought forward a lot of new voters — Christian conservatives who are worried about the state of our country.”

Parker, whose father is a Methodist minister, considers herself a Christian conservative too, although she may have differing views on some issues. “Although we may have differences, I hope they know I’ll always be honest with them.”

To the supporters of Councilwoman Ann Zadeh, Parker believes she can appeal to the idea that 90 percent of what is done at the city level involves good governance. And she believes she can offer that.

Peoples said that by the end of the campaign other candidates had started using her talking points. “We are one Fort Worth of almost one million people. We are all different ethnic groups, races, sexes, and sexual orientations. We need a mayor to bring all groups to the table. Great leaders have to be visionary and plan for the future,” Peoples said. She said she called each of the candidates to check on them because running for office “can be grueling.”

Congressman Marc Veasey (D-TX-33) endorsed Peoples on May 3. “As the mayor, I know she will rise above partisan politics to unify the city of Fort Worth, and use her position to advocate for working families, small businesses and bringing new jobs to the inside of the Loop. I also know Deborah will strive to improve the quality of life in every neighborhood throughout our city; east, west, north or south.”

Parker garnered the endorsement of retiring Mayor Betsy Price. “Mattie is the only candidate for mayor that I trust to lead Fort Worth into the future. I know her heart is to serve Fort Worth with honesty and integrity while focusing on positive policies not divisive partisan politics.” 

Turnout will be key for a runoff election with a shorter window of early voting and fewer races on the ballot. For the general election, 66,519 votes were cast out of a city with a population of about 900,000.

Peoples pointed out that participation doubled from only 38,798 voters in 2019. She was also pleased to have received more votes in this election than Price did when she was re-elected in 2019. 

“Local elections are where the rubber meets the road on so many important issues,” Peoples said. She’s optimistic and would like to see 100,000 residents vote in the runoff.

Parker plans to continue the same strategy she has pursued with a focus on reaching neighborhoods and utilizing radio and social media.

There will also be runoff elections for Fort Worth city council in District 6 between incumbent Jungus Jordan and challenger Jared Williams, in District 7 between Zeb Pent and Leonard Firestone, in District 8 between incumbent Kelly Allen Gray and challenger Chris Nettles, and in District 9 between Elizabeth Peck and Fernando Peralta.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.