Former Tax Assessor-Collector Betsy Price and former City Councilman Jim Lane are headed to a runoff to determine who will be the next mayor of Fort Worth, and Cowtown’s LGBT community will have the chance to see where the candidates stand on the issues when the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce and Fairness Fort Worth host an candidate forum Wednesday, June 1, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Four-Day Weekend theater, 312 Houston St., in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square.
Questions for the candidates must be submitted in advance, and those asking the questions can remain anonymous. Submit questions via email to FairnessFtWorth@aol.com. The forum will be moderated by Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy and by me, Dallas Voice Senior Editor Tammye Nash.
Price ended Election Day with a significant lead at the ballot box, bringing in 44 percent of the 33,581 votes cast in the mayoral race. Lane trailed by nearly 20 percentage points, with 26 percent.
Another former council member, Cathy Hirt, was third in the five-way race with 21 percent, and former State Rep. Dan Barrett was fourth with 8 percent. Independent filmmaker Nicholas Zebrun, the youngest of the five candidates, received 1 percent of the vote.
Of the 327,307 registered voters eligible to cast a ballot in the Fort Worth mayoral election, only 10 percent did so.
In Fort Worth City Council races, incumbents facing challengers easily won re-election. Of the four incumbents facing challengers, two — Sal Espino in District 2 and Frank Moss in District 5 — voted in 2009 in favor of adding transgender protections to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Neither Espino nor Moss responded to a recent “voter guide” compiled by Richard Clough, a pastor with the right-wing Kenneth Copeland Ministries who opposed recent LGBT-positive inititiatives undertaken in Fort Worth, including the transgender protection amendment.
Clough’s guide asked candidates to express strong agreement, agreement, disagreement and strong disagreement with a list of 10 “precepts,” three of which were specifically anti-gay.
Espino defeated challenger Paul Rudisill — who “strongly agreed” with all of Clough’s 10 precepts — by a 63 percent-to-37 percent margin. Moss got 67 percent of the vote in his district against two challengers. Charles Hibbler, who didn’t respond to Clough’s guide either, got 8 percent, and Rickie Clark, who signified strong agreement with Clough’s anti-gay precepts, got 25 percent.
District 4 incumbent Danny Scarth didn’t reply to Clough’s voter guide, either, but he did vote against the transgender protections amendment in 2009. Scarth defeated challenger Lupe Arriola by a 611 percent-to-39 percent margin. Arriola did not respond to Clough’s guide, either.
The only other returning incumbent to vote against the trans protections was Jungus Jordan in District 6, who indicated strong agreement with all of Clough’s precepts. He defeated challenger Tollie Thomas, who did not respond to Clough’s guide, by a 63 percent-to-37 percent margin.
The third vote against the trans protections in 2009 came from District 7 incumbent Carter Burdette, who did not run for re-election this year. The race to succeed him ended Saturday in a runoff between Dennis Shingleton, who got 46 percent of the vote, and Jon Perry, who got 20 percent. Jack Ernest, who last month called the city’s trans-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance “damnable,” placed a distant third with only 14 percent of the vote. Lee Henderson got 13 percent, and Jonathan Horton received 7 percent.
Top vote-getter Shingleton did not respond to Clough’s voter guide, while Perry indicated agreement with Clough’s three anti-gay precepts. However, in comments posted to the Dallas Voice website on a story about candidates’ responses to Clough’s precepts, a person identifying themself as Jon Perry said filling out Clough’s questionnaire was “the biggest mistake I made. Please accept my apologies.” The same commenter also suggested that Shingleton did respond to Clough’s questionnaire and that his answers were “even worse than mine.” However, the copy of the guide posted on Clough’s Texans for Faith and Family Facebook page indicates Shingleton failed to respond.
Fort Worth’s only openly gay councilman, District 9’s Joel Burns, was unopposed in his re-election bid, as was LGBT ally Kathleen Hicks in District 8. District 3 incumbent W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman, who voted in favor of the trans protection amendment, faced no challengers either in his re-election campaign. Incumbent Mayor Mike Moncrief did not seek re-election.