As opposed to the RISD school board election held the same day, the story here is much simpler to tell. Or so I thought going into election day. Looking back, things were going on under the surface that I was too blind to see.
There was nothing hard to see in the mayor's race. Paul Voelker swept all precincts in winning 78% of the overall vote for mayor. Maybe voters like the way he's running things. Maybe voters didn't buy into Jared Weadon's anti-growth, cap-taxes policy recommendations. In any case, Voelker easily won his first term as an elected, not appointed, mayor.
Marta Gómez Frey won all but two precincts in winning 74% of the overall vote in Place 4. Maybe voters like her "serial volunteer" positive personality. Kashif Riaz won where people presumably know him well — his own neighborhood precinct in the Richardson panhandle and Precinct 1503 in south Richardson, near the Islamic Association of North Texas, where Riaz's Pakistani background and work with the Outreach Committee of the East Plano Islamic Center might have been known. Riaz was a positive candidate with intriguing out-of-the-box ideas. Perhaps his support would have been greater if more people could have met him.
Source: Dallas County Votes.
That leaves Place 5, where Mabel Simpson was re-elected with 52.59% of the overall vote in a close race against Cory Montfort. The electoral map is a patchwork. It's impossible to say that either candidate had a geographical base anywhere. Each council place is itself a patchwork. That map has all the earmarks, not of a geographical split in Richardson, but of a very close election in which a few votes would have been enough to swing the result in many precincts. Simpson eked out her victory with an overall margin of only 284 votes out of 5,488 total. I was surprised by Montfort's strength. I did not see that coming. Montfort's campaign focused on boosterism for Richardson combined with her role as a professional counselor. It contrasted with Simpson's impersonal demeanor as a real estate attorney.
So, what's the story here? The establishment wins again is one story. But Montfort's performance indicates that a fresh face with the right attitude and goals might be able to pull off an upset in Richardson politics, something we haven't seen in many years. Don't underestimate the power of retail politics at the local level.
But let's not overlook another reason for the outcomes of these races. The Wheel recommended voting for Paul Voelker, Marta Gómez Frey, and Mabel Simpson. All three won. The Wheel's endorsement was obviously, ipso facto, decisive. ;-)