District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons re-elected; Tonya Parker becomes first black LGBT person elected in county; Garcia tops Mayfield
Staving off a Republican tsunami that inundated much of the rest of the state and nation, Democrats narrowly held on to power in Dallas County on Tuesday night.
Two of three openly gay candidates on the ballot locally, District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons and judicial candidate Tonya Parker, won their races as part of the closer-than-expected countywide Democratic victory. A third openly gay candidate, Democrat Pete Schulte, was defeated by Republican incumbent Dan Branch in Texas House District 108.
Parker, who defeated Mike Lee for the 116th Judicial District seat, is the first openly LGBT person ever elected judge in Dallas County. She will also become the first openly LGBT African-American elected official in the county’s history.
Meanwhile, Democrats also managed to seize a majority on the Dallas County Commissioners Court for the first time in three decades. Democrat Clay Jenkins defeated Republican Wade Emmert in the race to replace openly gay incumbent Jim Foster, who chairs the court and was defeated by Jenkins in the Democratic primary. And longtime LGBT ally Dr. Elba Garcia, a former city councilwoman, toppled anti-gay incumbent Ken Mayfield for the District 4 seat.
The victories made Dallas County one of the lone bright spots for Democrats in Texas, as Republicans swept statewide races and significantly increased their majority in the Texas House.
At the top of the statewide ballot, LGBT ally and Democrat Bill White was soundly defeated by anti-gay Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Perry.
In Dallas County state legislative races, Democratic incumbent State Reps. Carol Kent, Kirk England, Allen Vaught and Robert Miklos were all trailing their Republican challengers. And gay-friendly Democratic challenger Loretta Haldenwang was trailing incumbent Republican State Rep. Linda Harper-Brown.
In Tarrant County, Democratic incumbent and LGBT ally Lon Burnam was on his way to an easy win in his campaign for an eighth term representing District 90 in the Texas Legislature. However, two other Democratic lawmakers considered to be friends of — or at least, friendly toward — the LGBT community were losing their re-election bids. Paula Pierson, first elected to represent District 93 in 2006, was trailing Republican Barbara Nash. And in District 96, incumbent Democrat Chris Turner was trailing Republican Bill Zedler.
Nationally, Republicans took control of the U.S. House and picked up seats in the Senate, likely ruling out passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act for the next two years.
In Dallas, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a staunch LGBT ally, easily held off Republican challenger Stephen Broden. The LGBT community also picked up another openly gay member of Congress, as Providence Mayor David Cicilline won his U.S. House race in Rhode Island.
For complete election coverage, see Friday’s Dallas Voice.