According to the Tarrant County Elections Office, 4,617 Republicans and 2,922 Democrats traveled to polling stations and filled out ballots in person across the county. The number of Republicans voting this year far outpaced the 2012 first-day turnout number of 2,147.
Democratic voter turnout is also up from 2012, but came nowhere near the 5,732 Tarrant County democrats that set the record in 2008. Just like in 2008, this year’s high voter turnout has been attributed to a compelling presidential race with an array of galvanizing candidates.
Texas will be one of 13 states holding primaries or caucuses on Super Tuesday March 1. This year’s Super Tuesday has been nicknamed the SEC primary because nearly half of the states participating are home to at least one university in the Southeastern Conference.
Texas is the crown jewel of Super Tuesday as 155 Republican delegates and 152 Democratic delegates will be awarded on a proportional basis. Georgia, with 76 delegates available for both parties, is the state with the second largest delegate count amongst Super Tuesday participants.
While the presidential primaries garner the most attention, they are not the only elections facing Fort Worth voters. Seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Texas State Legislature are up for reelection as well as local judicial seats and the position of Railroad Commissioner, which is a statewide office.
In Tarrant County, the office of sheriff is up for reelection and voters across Texas will be asked to vote on referendums that are specific to party affiliation.
Primary elections that appear towards the end of the ballot are among the most important for some members of the Fort Worth community.
“As someone who works closely with a lot of child advocacy groups, I do pay attention to the judicial elections because it has a direct effect on business,” said Fort Worth resident Missy Gale. “I do think more people go to the polls in years with a presidential election and voters are more informed regarding local elections because they already have a reason to go vote.”
With over one million voters registered in Tarrant County, this year’s presidential primaries will get people to the polls. Perhaps an all-time high in voter turnout will coincide with a record number of voters interested in local elections.
Voters who wish to avoid large crowds at the polls or have a conflict on the day of the Texas primaries will have the opportunity to vote at early polling stations until Feb. 26.
Here are some of the candidates that will appear on the ballot in 76109 and the issues they find to be most important:
United States House of Representatives District 12
Both the Republican and Democratic sides of the ballot contain only one candidate, so both incumbent Kay Granger and Democratic challenger Bill Bradshaw will make it on to the November ballot.
Granger has served as the District 12 representative since 1997. Since being in Congress, she has served as a House Deputy Whip and on a number of committees concerning issues such as defense, labor, health, human services and education.
Bill Bradshaw, a machinist who has lived in Fort Worth for 22 years, hopes to fight wealth inequality.
“I know what it’s like to make a starvation wage, to lose your job to China, to not be able to attend college without going into massive debt, to work hard and be rewarded with an economic recession and layoffs, and to watch friends and coworkers struggle to raise families in a rigged economy,” said Bradshaw. “I haven’t been corrupted by our political system and I refuse to be bought, refuse corporate donations, billionaires, and super PACs.”
United States House of Representatives District 33
In this race, incumbent Marc Veasey will take on Carlos Quintanilla, an activist and business owner.
Veasey has served as the representative of District 33 since 2013. He serves on the Congressional committees for armed services and science, space and technology. Also, Veasey is a part of Congressional caucuses for African-American and LGBT equality.
Veasey’s main policy focus if he is reelected will be to improve the number of people insured in District 33.
“We are fighting this problem by providing assistance to enroll and educate constituents on healthcare related issues wherever possible,” said Veasey. “Additionally, I often hear of concerns around jobs and the economy. I believe that some of these issues can be alleviated by increasing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education initiatives, which in turn will better prepare our workforce for the future.”
Quintanilla ran against Veasey for the same seat in 2012. He returns this election season in an effort to be a catalyst for change in the Hispanic community by being on the forefront of issues effecting citizens every day.
Quintanilla said: “I have been in the trenches fighting on issues that include Senior Citizen abuse, addressing the disappointing educational dropout rates and the dismal number of college graduates.”
He is a cancer survivor who hopes to focus on issues adversely effecting children and senior citizens in District 33.
Former illusionist Bruce Chadwick has lived in Fort Worth since 1982 and states that his ties to the community are the main reason he is the best man for the job. His campaign specifically highlights three key areas for legislative improvement: creating jobs, fixing immigration and protecting family.
The other Republican candidate is M. Mark Mitchell, a physician and attorney from Fort Worth. Mitchell has run multiple times unsuccessfully to be the Texas State Legislature District 91 representative.
“My knowledge, skill, philosophy and integrity make me the best-qualified candidate,” said Mitchell. “The three most critical problems are healthcare, the economy and immigration.”
Texas State House District 97
Incumbent Craig Goldman will run unopposed on the Republican side of the ballot. Goldman is a 47 year native of Fort Worth who has served as the representative from District 97 since 2013. He hopes to pass legislation in the next session that will help secure the Mexican border and improve infrastructure across Texas.
“Keeping up with new infrastructure needs and current infrastructure improvements with the continual growth in population of our State is a must,” said Goldman. “The 84th Legislature did a tremendous job of ending diversions in the budget to find more money to fund The Texas Department of Transportation. We must continue to be creative to find money without raising taxes or implementing any more toll roads in order to keep Texans moving on our highways.”
The two Democratic candidates in this race are young and inexperienced compared to Goldman.
Elizabeth Tarrant, a 24-year-old financier for Texas Crude Energy, has volunteered in the community to help improve education and the treatment of women.
Tarrant said, “The Texas Legislature has voted to limit the healthcare, reproduction rights, and equal pay, limiting personal liberty for women. I support the notion that birth control should be free to Texan women.”
Andrew T. McKernon is a healthcare technology executive who has lived in Fort Worth for seven years. If elected, McKernon wishes to combat gerrymandering and reform Texas campaign contribution limits.
“We must put in place a non-partisan, independent panel to draw district lines after a census and not allow the party in power to draw voting districts to keep existing politicians in power,” said McKernon.
He also believes that implementing a system of exclusively electronic or mail-in voting would greatly improve political efficacy in Texas.
Tarrant County Sheriff
The race for Tarrant County Sheriff consists of three Republican candidates so the primary will serve as a de facto election as the winner will likely run unopposed in November.
Dee Anderson is the incumbent with 15 years of experience serving as sheriff. He hopes to continue his 15-year streaks of passing all annual jail inspections and running the department under budget. Anderson fully intends to continue careful stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
“We will continue our policy of maximum accountability assuring illegal immigrants are fully prosecuted and only then deported,” said Anderson. “Fiscal accountability and responsibility must also continue.”
John M. Garris currently works as a confinement officer for Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department. His main focus if elected Sheriff will be to reform “Shift Bid” policies that result in the relocation of confinement officers. According to Garris, over 100 confinement officers have resigned because of these policies since Oct. 2015.
The final candidate for Tarrant County Sheriff is Bill E. Waybourn, a retired Chief of Public Safety from Dalworthington Gardens. If elected, Waybourn will aim to reestablish strong relationships with other law enforcement officials.
“The lack of leadership in the current administration has lead to broken relationships with departments such as the Fort Worth Police Department and county Constables, as well as created a high attrition rate in the Sheriff’s Department. I have a history of building relationships with agencies, which leads to successful outcomes for all,” said Waybourn.
Here is a map of places to vote in Fort Worth. Residents should bring an approved form of photo ID listed here.
The Texas Primary Elections will take place on March 1 and early voting is open until February 26. For sample ballots go to www.tarrantcounty.com/eVote/.