As the Fort Worth City Council continues to take shape with one of its two new districts heading to the ballot, Mayor Mattie Parker sailed easily to another term on Saturday, May 6, with 70 percent of the vote.
As Parker heads into her second term as mayor, she said her priorities will continue to work from her previous term: create a cleaner, safer city, address gun violence, and improve infrastructure. Parker also said he plans to redouble his efforts to preserve open spaces and create more opportunities for economic development.
“Today Fort Worth continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in America because we are focused on doing the right things,” he said. “Everything comes from a high quality of life. Public safety is at the heart of all of this.”
The mayoral election is often one of the key races that drive voters to the polls. Kim and Sophie Sallinger, who cast their ballots at the Como Community Center, said Parker’s re-election was their top priority this year. For the next two years, Fort Worth will continue to be led by one of the youngest major city mayors in the country.
Parker’s win stands in stark contrast to election night in May 2021, when narrow margins sent her into a runoff with former Democratic Party chair Deborah Peoples. Thus, there was no incumbent in the running, as former mayor Betsy Price opted to step down from the seat. Parker ended up winning that contest with 53% of the vote.
This election cycle, challengers have struggled to match Parker in fundraising and name recognition. Combined, his four challengers managed to raise just $7,310 compared to Parker’s $433,647.47.
Supporters of Parker’s election night party expressed excitement about his upcoming term.
Marion Knight has lived in Fort Worth for about 50 years and said she was thrilled that Parker could serve another term.
“I think Mattie is excellent. She has a lot of energy and intelligence and is ready to take Fort Worth to the next level,” Knight said.
Parker spoke to the Report about what the next two years could hold for the city of Fort Worth. Parker said she sought a second term because he feels the work she started two years ago is not finished.
“I think the city is moving in a positive direction,” Parker said. “For me it is something that I felt called to do for a certain period of time for my city that I love very much”.
He also reflected on his first two years as mayor. He sees it as his role to cool down the city council by encouraging compromise and understanding among elected leaders.
“We value building consensus. We like debates. We want people to push and pull things. But there’s a group of people on the fringes, I usually describe them as far left and far right, who seem to love the fight,” Parker said. “Right now, there’s so much going on. right way, and it’s really important not to waste the moment.”
Parker maintains monetary and political support from the Fort Worth establishment
Many of Fort Worth’s most powerful political figures were backing Parker on election night, including Price and incumbent District 7 board member Leonard Firestone. Notable figures from the Fort Worth business community also showed up, including Ed Bass and Leah King of the United Way of Tarrant County, who also serves as chair of the Tarrant Regional Water District board.
The support of political and business leaders for Parker was evident throughout the campaign period. Financial reporting from Parker’s campaign showed strong support from Bass, who owns and operates Sundance Square, among other roles. Parker also received support from many of the city’s most well-funded political action committees, including the police and fire unions.
Price said they continue to vocally support Parker because he has the tools to move the city forward.
“It’s very exciting,” Price said. “I think he has done a great job over the past two years and deserves to have two more to continue the work he is doing. The city needs continuity and it is Mattie who leads the new council now that it has 11 members. He’ll do a great job.
Conservative business and political leaders in Fort Worth continued to support Parker despite the mayor publicly criticizing and distancing himself from the Republican Party.
“I couldn’t run in the Republican primary because I couldn’t look in the mirror and do it,” Parker said during an event with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith in March 2022.
Parker has expressed discomfort with the growing factionalism surrounding politics, particularly at the local and national levels.
“I think ultimately, as Americans, we crave authenticity, we crave for people to be honest and genuine about their positions,” Parker told the Report in a March 2023 interview. there are a lot of people out there who disagree with everything i have done or said. But I hope they find me honest.
Building consensus is a top priority for Parker, he said. He points to instances, such as during redistricting, where he chose not to be the deciding vote on controversial issues.
“I strongly felt it was not prudent for the city of Fort Worth for mayor to be a swing vote in a controversial redistricting. I’m really proud of where we ended up,” Parker previously told the Report.
However Parker took on the role of a swing vote in a controversial vote in the area of policing. She voted against establishing a community policing advisory board in November 2022. The board rejected the proposal by a 5-4 vote.
Parker renewed her commitment to be a strong advocate for the Fort Worth Police Department during the election campaign.
“We will be an example in this country of what investing in police officers looks like to make sure we not only have the equipment they need, but also the number of officers they need,” Parker previously told the Report.
The most immediate challenge Parker and the latest slate of council members will face is the city’s budget process and a series of public engagement meetings related to the city’s master plan. Parker will lead efforts to provide oversight to city management as they set the city’s priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.
Parker said he will focus on getting new board members involved upfront in the budget process and help them understand what to expect.
“Everyone may have a different priority in their specific district, but I don’t want them to be surprised,” Parker said. “We’re going to have some really big decisions to make in the city.”
Parker wants to continue investing in police, fire and parks through the budget process.
Parker prepares to lead the expanded council
Parker will also have immediate responsibility for managing a recently expanded board and at least three new board members. Parker acknowledged that consensus building is likely to become more challenging with broader advice.
“I’m also excited about their ability to hone more specifically in a smaller geographic area with a smaller population,” Parker said. “Hopefully they have an even better understanding of all the different needs of their individual districts than our current board members.”
District 11 is headed for a runoff, which will take place on June 10. The ballot will determine the first person to represent the newly added district.
“It will be different for me personally, as mayor, to make sure they have their pulse on what they need for their districts,” Parker said.
The mayor was jovial at the election night party he shared with newly elected District 7 City Council member Macy Hill and newly elected Tarrant Regional Water District council member Paxton Motheral.
“When I was elected mayor I was 37 years old. I’ll be 40 in November and I don’t look any older now, do I? he joked. “It was about time our generation stepped up and was willing to lead this city into the future, and we are only able to do that because of the giants of people who have come before us and helped us serve in this community.” .
He kept his remarks brief before handing the mic to his fellow activists, but noted in an interview with The Report ahead of the election that ahead of his next term, communication is key.
“It’s important that I continue to communicate what our vision is, what our priorities are, and also be an excellent steward of tax dollars for those who live here and make sure they get a good return on their investment,” Parker said.
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