Elections 2021Local NewsPolice Association-Backed Candidates Make Runoffs in Open Dallas Council Races, Most Incumbents Reelected

Only 10 percent of registered voters in Dallas County turned out to vote on Election Day. Neighboring Tarrant County saw 13 percent turnout.
May 4, 2021
On Saturday, the five candidates endorsed for Dallas City Council by the Dallas Police Association (DPA) either won their races or advanced to runoffs. It was also a good night for city council incumbents, all of whom were either reelected or will have the chance to keep their seats in runoffs.

In the race for the seat representing District 11, self-identified conservative and DPA-endorsed candidate Barry Wernick won a plurality of the vote and will advance to a runoff with Jaynie Shultz. Wernick received 38 percent of the ballots while Schultz was right behind him with 36 percent. According to the unofficial totals, Wernick received only 149 more votes than Schultz.

Vying for the seat being vacated by outgoing Councilman Lee Kleinman, Wernick thanked his supporters and said that he is looking forward to “having another month of getting our message out and the people getting a chance to get Dallas moving in the right direction.”

“I am thankful to have received so much support by the people of our district. It shows that my message is resonating and how out of touch with the constituents my opponent is,” Wernick wrote in an email to The Texan.

“That is why the people don’t want more of the same. We want new leadership. The Dallas Morning News and Jaynie Schultz publicly supported the two propositions that almost [75 percent] of the people of our district voted against. My campaign was vocal in opposition to both propositions.”

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Wernick was referring to the defeat of Proposition A, which proposed to “eliminate the requirement that a member of a board or commission created by the city charter be a registered or qualified voter,” and Proposition B, which proposed to “eliminate the requirement that a member of the civil service board be a qualified taxpaying citizen.” Each proposition lost with about two-thirds of voters in opposition.

Schultz thanked her supporters in a social media post.

“I want to thank all of those that helped me along the way as we get ready for Round 2,” Schultz wrote. “I’ll continue to run a positive campaign based on the issues to improve our quality of life and the can-do spirit of our community. We’ve come a long way, and there is more work to do.”

After suggesting in January that the people of Dallas have an “addiction” to calling the police, Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold failed to win outright reelection, and instead will face challenger Maxie Johnson in a runoff. Arnold received 47 percent of the vote while Johnson received 37 percent of the vote.

Councilwoman Paula Blackmon easily defeated challengers Judy Kumar and John Botefuhr after a bitter race that included controversy over Blackmon’s support of an ordinance that removed some funding from the Dallas Police Department. Blackmon won 63 percent of the vote compared to Botefuhr’s 17 percent and Kumar’s 20 percent.

Cruising to another term in office, Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn received 81 percent of the vote, defeating challenger Elva Curl, who received only 19 percent. DPA had endorsed Mendelsohn, who has been a proponent of police funding and pushed back when the council initially began responding to calls to “defund the police.”

With a difference of only 114 votes between them, DPA’s choice for District 13, Leland Burk, will advance to a runoff with Gay Donnell Willis. Burk won a plurality with 43 percent of the ballots, while Willis trailed him with 42 percent. The candidates are running for the seat representing District 13, which is being vacated by Councilwoman Jennifer Gates.

In District 2, DPA endorsed Sana Syed finished second with one-quarter of the vote and will go to a runoff with Jesse Moreno, who garnered 39 percent of the ballots. The district is currently represented by Councilman Adam Medrano.

Eclipsing his challenger, District 10 Councilman Adam McGough, who is backed by DPA, won 91 percent of the vote against Sirrano Keith Baldeo’s 9 percent.

Incumbents David Blewett and Adam Bazaldua survived the election, though they will now have to compete in runoffs.

Bazaldua received 39 percent of the vote in a crowded race, finishing first among eight candidates. Kevin Felder, who won 15 percent of the vote, also qualified for the runoff.

Blewett finished second to Paul Ridley, receiving only 32 percent compared to Ridley’s 46 percent. A third candidate, Elizabeth Viney, won less than a quarter of the vote.

Council members Chad West, Casey Thomas II, Jaime Resendez, Omar Narvaez, and Tennell Atkins also won reelection. West and Resendez narrowly escaped runoffs, each receiving 52 percent of the vote in their respective races. Narvaez won his contest with 56 percent. Atkins won with almost three-fourths of the vote and Thomas claimed victory with 82 percent.

Kleinman, Gates, and Medrano were unable to run for reelection due to term limits.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."