Fort Worth chooses new mayor for the first time in a decade | News from USA®
By PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press
Fort Worth elects a new mayor on Saturday in a race that looks like a Texas battlefield and could lead to key policing decisions in one of America’s largest cities as a former officer awaits trial for the fatal 2019 shooting of a black woman.
The weekend’s second round will decide the first new mayor in a decade for Fort Worth – the only major city in Texas with a GOP mayor, as Democrats have made inroads into the state’s most booming areas red.
While the race is officially non-partisan, the sensation is not: Deborah Peoples, a former Democratic Party county chairperson who would become the city’s first black mayor, was the top winner of 10 candidates in May. She qualified for the second round with Mattie Parker, a former senior official to the incumbent mayor whose GOP supporters include Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
The Texas Democratic Party backed Peoples, while Republicans brought activists from across the state to Fort Worth in an effort to maintain the line.
“It has become a very partisan race, and unfortunately it has become the reality of this election,” said Rick Barnes, Chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party.
The winner will take office just weeks before the scheduled August trial of a former Fort Worth police station charged with murder in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, a black woman who was shot and killed through a window in 2019.
Jefferson was babysitting his 8-year-old nephew at his mother’s home when a neighbor called a non-emergency police line to report a door was ajar. Police said Officer Aaron Dean opened fire from outside through a window after “perceiving a threat.”
Dean resigned after the shooting.
Outgoing Mayor Betsy Price has called for a top-down review of the police department after the shooting and his successor could decide whether Fort Worth goes ahead with the creation of a civilian review board recommended by a group of work on race and culture. Parker did not commit to the idea and Peoples said the city ignored recommendations made by its citizens.
Fort Worth, which is approaching one million people, has about 40% white, 35% Hispanic, and 19% black.
“People have been talking for years that we want independent oversight of Fort Worth community policing,” said Pamela Young, lead organizer of United Fort Worth, who has been pushing for police reforms in the city.
Peoples lost their first double-digit mayoral bid in 2019 to Price, who took office in 2011 and is the city’s longest-serving mayor, but decided not to run for another term. but Democrats are hopeful that an open seat and shifting trends will work in their favor this time around. President Joe Biden narrowly won the surrounding county in November, four years after former President Donald Trump won by more than 8 points.
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