- Place 1: Bob Dubey
- Place 2: Mark Solomon (unopposed)
- Place 3: Run-off: Janet DuPuy, Dan Barrios
- Place 4: Kyle Kepner
- Place 5: Ken Hutchenrider
- Place 6: Steve Mitchell (unopposed)
- Mayor: Paul Voelker (unopposed)
My congratulations to the winners and my sincere admiration to all who put themselves out there for voters to judge. I believe strongly in Theodore Roosevelt's words, "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."
Now, on to this critic's takeaways. It's said that political pundits can always spin a story to explain any election results, no matter how close, in a way that makes it sound like the result was inevitable. So, which story do you want me to spin for you this year?
The Richardson Coalition PAC is Still the Champ.
In all four contested races, the candidate endorsed by the political action committee known as the Richardson Coalition finished first with a comfortable lead. Three won outright; Janet DePuy will face a run-off. You have to go back to before Boss Tweed took over Tammany Hall to find an election not swept by the Richardson Coalition PAC slate. They've vanquished the tea party, the independents, and now the Democrats. How long can their reign last?
Partisanship Doesn't Win Non-Partisan Elections.
What can I say? In 2016, Hillary Clinton out-polled Donald Trump in Congressional District 32, which includes Richardson. In 2018, Colin Allred defeated longtime Republican Congressman Pete Sessions in District 32. Also, in a result that shocked me, Democrat Ana-Maria Ramos defeated Republican Linda Koop in Texas House District 102, which includes some of Richardson. Given all that, you might think the Democrats could make inroads on the Richardson City Council. Working in concert with, and being endorsed as a slate by, Richardson Area Democrats and Ana-Maria Ramos, there was no doubt the Dems planned to win the non-partisan municipal races with a huge get-out-the-vote effort. Instead, they flopped badly, doing no better than the tea party candidates a few election cycles ago. I haven't conducted any exit polls, but if I were to flesh out this story in my mind, it would be one of voter backlash against a too visibly partisan campaign in a non-partisan election.
No Coattails in Place 3.
Scott Dunn ran for City Council unopposed since 2011, each time garnering the perfunctory endorsement of the Richardson Coalition PAC. This year, Dunn decided to step down, and bewilderingly, thought he had enough influence to pick his successor with his endorsement, despite, how shall we put it, Bimbogate. The Richardson Coalition PAC backed Janet DePuy, the Democrats backed Dan Barrios, and Dunn backed Franklin Byrd. Byrd was also backed by "Patriot Texas Conservative Activists", a fact I know because Byrd himself repeatedly posted the endorsement on Facebook. When the votes were counted, Byrd finished third in a three-person race. Without exit polls, it's impossible to say which hurt Byrd more, the lack of an endorsement by the Richardson Coalition PAC, or the actual endorsement by Dunn.
Check Your Own Closet Before Pointing at Others' Skeletons.
Let's just say, if the tsunami of Bimbogate took out Scott Dunn as a would-be power broker, the returning tide took out Johnny Lanzillo and Mauri Long as well.
Nice Guys Finish Last.
Hall of Fame baseball manager Leo Durocher is famous for saying, "Nice guys finish last." In my opinion, one of the nicest guys in this election was Raymond DeGuzman, Sr. True to Leo the Lip's aphorism, DeGuzman finished last. He did nothing to give himself any breathing room between Kyle Kepner on the right and Johnny Lanzillo on the left and ended up being squeezed from both sides.
Leo Durocher is Full of It.
Someone else squeezed from both sides was Janet DePuy. Dan Barrios, on the left, mailed voters an attack ad against her. And Franklin Byrd, on the right, repeatedly shared endorsements of himself by something called "Patriot Texas Conservative Activists." Nevertheless, DePuy proclaimed:
That's not to say DePuy refused all endorsements. She was endorsed by both the Richardson Coalition PAC and by Amir Omar, who were on opposite sides of the bitter mayoral election of 2013. It's not the same left-right axis as Barrios/Byrd, but whatever direction the axis is, DePuy showed how you keep from getting squeezed on it. DePuy didn't win outright. She'll face a run-off against Dan Barrios. But it's hard seeing the conservatives who backed Byrd (and Dunn) switching to Democrats-backed Barrios in the run-off. More likely, they'll switch to DePuy to stop any chance of Barrios winning the run-off. In this case at least, it looks like the nice girl will finish first.In this campaign, I have pledged to serve as an independent and nonpartisan voice for the residents of our city. Early in my campaign, I was approached by four separate Democratic leaders who asked that I run in Place 5 instead of Place 3, in order to help them “build their bench.” I declined this offer because I have no other agenda than what is right for Richardson.
Source: Janet DePuy.
Let's Revisit the Code of Ethics
Three of the winning candidates, DePuy (or Barrios if he wins the run-off), Kepner, and Hutchenrider, are on record calling for a review of the Code of Ethics that failed us during the Maczka/Palisades scandal. DePuy and Kepner are on record calling for changes. Hutchenrider calls only for a review and hasn't necessarily committed to strengthening it before a review is completed. Bob Dubey and Mark Solomon have rejected the need for changes. That leaves Steve Mitchell and Mayor Paul Voelker to state their position. This election was anything but a change election, but we're close to a majority of the City Council recognizing that the old way of running things failed us and is in need of change. Three is not yet enough, but it's a little something to celebrate and build on.
Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone. To all candidates, win or lose, sit back and enjoy a well-deserved margarita.