Arlington races head for runoffs; civil service, senior center approved

The District 3 and District 5 Arlington City Council races will head to a runoff election. Voters also approved civil service for the City's Fire Department, and a new Adult Activity Center

  • Mayor Jeff Williams visits with Mansfied ISD Trustee Raul Gonzales
    Mayor Jeff Williams visits with Mansfied ISD Trustee Raul Gonzales (Courtesy Zack Maxwell / Arlington Voice)
  • A large turnout for Mayor Jeff Williams election watch party
    A large turnout at J-Gilligan's Bar and Grill for Mayor Jeff Williams' watch party (Courtesy Zack Maxwell / Arlington Voice)
  • AISD Trustee Bowie Hogg
    AISD Trustee Bowie Hogg visits with his wife and a guest (Courtesy Zack Maxwell / Arlington Voice)
  • Members of the Arlington Professional Firefighter Association
    Members of the Arlington Professional Firefighters Association watch election results (Courtesy Zack Maxwell / Arlington Voice)
Zack Maxwell

An exciting evening of election results has produced two runoff races in Arlington, an approved civil service system, and a new Adult Activity Center.

Starting in District 3, the race between four candidates has been narrowed to two as airport traffic controller Marvin Sutton took an early lead over the next closest opponent, IT consultant Roxanne Thalman.

With all seven precincts reporting, Sutton secured 44.43 percent of the vote to Thalman’s 34.82 percent.

“I think we have some really good candidates in this race,” Sutton said. “Roxanne and I talked earlier at a polling station and we are ready to work together to move the district forward regardless of the outcome.”

Sutton has previously run for the same position four times. And while he feels good about his ability to win the runoff, Thalman believes she will come out ahead.

“We had a great turnout today and I’m feeling hopeful about my ability to win in a runoff election,” Thalman said.

Two other candidates in the race, Pablos Frias and Blerim Elmazi, respectively gained 14.95 percent and 5.8 percent of the vote.

The contest between incumbent Councilwoman Lana Wolff and UTA student Dakota Loupe is also heading for a runoff.

With 46.12 percent of the vote, Wolff has been navigating political fallout from area barbeque restauranteur Ashton Stauffer.

Stauffer, who has previously blamed Wolff for Arlington’s “poor” small business climate, has poured an enormous amount of time and resources into Loupe’s campaign, who netted 34.16 percent of the vote.

"It would have been ideal to win outright, but this is a good statement," said Loupe of the results. "Our strategy of talking to voters face-to-face has really resonated. We'll be doing more of it as we head into the runoff."

Wolff was not available for comment.

A third candidate, Matthew Powers, collected 19.72 percent of the vote.

The runoff election is June 10.

Arlington Civil Service

A proposition to transition the Arlington Fire Department to a state civil service model was approved with approximately 54 percent in support.

Rejected by voters twice before, the proposition overcame a well-funded opposition campaign, which had the support of eight of nine council members.

“We put a lot of effort into this and had over 100 firefighters out at the polls today,” said David Crow, president of the Arlington Professional Firefighters Association (APFA). “We’re encouraged by the feedback.”

Arlington joins a growing list of Texas cities, including Fort Worth and Dallas, which use a civil service system.

A three-person, city manager-appointed commission will be responsible for the Department's personnel and discipline process. APFA members have suggested the Department’s current process of promoting firefighters is dysfunctional and lends itself to favorability issues.

The proposition has met opposition from a majority of the City Council, but District 1 Councilman Charlie Parker has been particularly vocal.

“It’s very disappointing when 190 firefighters can ruin an award-winning fire department,” Parker said.

The City is expected to begin the transition to civil service in October.

Adult Activity Center

Voters also approved a proposition to build a $45 million senior activity center in West Arlington.

“I’m delighted the citizens have recognized the two senior centers we have are inadequate,” said Elva Roy, president of Ambassadors for Aging Well. “This new world-class senior center is going to be fantastic.”

The senior-focused group provided the citizen-based energy needed to bring the issue to a public vote. Rather than allocating a portion of Arlington’s sales tax, the City will instead issue bonds to construct the facility.

The adult activity center will occupy 12 acres of city-owned land near the Pierce-Burch water treatment plant off West Green Oaks Boulevard.

The City has estimated it will cost $1.7 million annually to operate the facility.

The new center has been somewhat of a “pet project” for Parker, who said he was “encouraged” the proposition was approved.

“It’s my baby. I brought that out of the Council to the ballot for a vote,” Parker said. “I feel very good that we will have something dedicated to seniors for the next 50 years.”

In other races…

In the mayoral race between incumbent Mayor Jeff Williams and recurring candidate Chris Dobson, Williams handily won with 70.6 percent of the vote.

First elected over then-Mayor Robert Cluck in 2014, Williams said Saturday he was “grateful” to receive the approval of voters for another two-year term.

District 4 Councilwoman Kathryn Wilemon marginally defeated political newcomer Theresa Rushing 66.38 percent to 33.62 percent. She’ll return to the Council for an eighth term.

In the race for the at-large District 8 seat, incumbent Councilman Michael Glaspie won over opponent Ghulam Sumdani 82 percent to 18 percent.

In Dalworthington Gardens, two propositions which will provide relief to the township’s aging infrastructure and City Hall building were approved.

To pay for the improvements, DWG residents approved a slight increase of $0.10 per $100 valuation in their property tax rate. Part of the proposition includes relocating the City’s municipal operations to a new building.

In the open Place 3 alderman seat, Bob Harvey lost to Cathy Stein 24.81 percent to 75.19 percent.

Place 4 incumbent Ed Motley ran unopposed, while newcomer Richard Pell won in an uncontested open seat for Place 5.

In Pantego, voters re-authorized a quarter-percent sales tax allocated to the maintenance of the town’s streets.

Pantego Mayor Doug Davis and incumbent council member Russell Brewster ran unopposed.

Incumbent Don Surratt beat challenger Charlie Price with 62.32 percent of the vote.  

Editor’s Note: All voting percentages are based on preliminary election results.