Election Day 101: Time for Some Runoff Live-Blogging

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Voters across the Dallas area will go to the polls on May 9 to elect mayor, city council members, and school district trustees. If you want your name to appear on a ballot, you should know that the filing period for candidates begins today. (Photo by iStock)
Photo by iStock

10:00 p.m. No official statements yet from either District 2 candidate, but I will repeat what I said at the beginning of this evening: District 2 has been incredibly fortunate to have four people who were ready and willing to take on the ultimate volunteer task of sitting on the school board. Your district may be weird and misshapen and have a hole in the middle, but you have lots of heart and tons of people who want the best things for Dallas ISD.

In the very near future, the board will be talking about things like elementary school suspensions, property taxes, and bids for upcoming bond projects. These three new trustees – Jaime Resendez, Audrey Pinkerton and Dustin Marshall will have to hit the ground running. Good luck, and godspeed.

9:30 p.m. Mita Havlick beat out Suzanne Smith to be in this runoff by 50 votes. She was beaten tonight by 42 votes. Still think your vote doesn’t matter?
Some reaction as the last of the returns come in:

9:18 p.m. Looks like we have some winners. More in a few minutes.

Dallas ISD District 2 – 62 of 62 precincts reporting
Havlick 49.64 percent  (2,886 votes)
Marshall 50.36 percent (2,928 votes)

DCCCD District 3 – 82 of 82 precincts reporting
Zimmerman 56.64 percent
Reed 43.36 percent

DCCCD District 4 – 109 of 109 precincts reporting
Lira Bravo 56.69 percent
Talbot 43.31 percent

9:05 p.m. New totals:

Dallas ISD District 2 – 53 of 62 precincts reporting
Havlick 48.56 percent  (2,670 votes)
Marshall 51.44 percent (2,828 votes)

DCCCD District 3 – 70 of 82 precincts reporting
Zimmerman 56.57 percent
Reed 43.33 percent

DCCCD District 4 – 77 of 109 precincts reporting
Lira Bravo 56.55 percent
Talbot 43.45 percent

8:10 p.m. New totals:

Dallas ISD District 2 – 21 of 62 precincts reporting
Havlick 47.12 percent  (1,786 votes)
Marshall 52.88 percent (2,004 votes)

DCCCD District 3 – 29 of 82 precincts reporting
Zimmerman 57.83 percent
Reed 42.17 percent

DCCCD District 4 – 35 of 109 precincts reporting
Lira Bravo 51.59 percent
Talbot 48.41 percent

7:37 p.m. Please send margaritas. Still waiting.

cattyping

7:11 p.m. And now we will have the traditional time for sitting and refreshing the computer screen a million times. Me, right now:
refresh

7:05 p.m. And the Early Voting totals:

Dallas ISD District 2
Havlick 46.87 percent  (1,432 votes)
Marshall 53.13 percent (1,632 votes)

DCCCD District 3
Zimmerman 60.33 percent
Reed 39.67 percent

DCCCD District 4
Lira Bravo 53.06 percent
Talbot 49.64 percent

7 p.m. – Here we go. The polls have closed, and in just a second we should start getting Early Voting totals. Hopefully, returns will come in swiftly and we can all enjoy what’s left of our Saturday night soon.

We’ll be followitsovering the DISD District 2 race between Mita Havlick and Dustin Marshall, as well as the Dallas County Community College District races in District 3 (Dorothy Zimmerman and Tommy Reed) and District 4 (Monica Lira Bravo and Martha Jo Talbot). It’ll be interesting to see if people remember that Zimmerman campaigned in part on a stance against any anti-discrimination policy that included language about gender identity and gender expression.

It’s almost 2 p.m., and voters have about five more hours to vote. Who will it be – Dustin Marshall or Mita Havlick? As we wait for the polls to close, I feel like I need to engage in a little spleen venting.

As I mentioned in my story on common (and sometimes campaign-killing) mistakes school board candidates make, I mention supporters. All of your supporters will be passionate. Some of them, however, will do more damage to your reputation and campaign than they do help.

I’ve seen this a lot in this epic quest to get a full complement of trustees for Dallas Independent School District that involved four districts and 12 candidates. I’ve seen candidates stand up and squarely take the blame for campaign missteps, and I’ve seen candidates allow their volunteers to take all the blame for something – or worse, blame them entirely. The latter is problematic, because it gives the impression that you do not care about your message enough to oversee who is representing you.

Now, I’m not saying wade into every Facebook fracas – that would be stupid and I don’t think stupid people run for school board (crazy, maybe, but not stupid).  But I am saying that your message should be clear enough that your supporters do not feel the need to malign entire swaths of parents, volunteers or children in their haste to tear down their candidate’s opponent. They should be able to intelligently and consistently point to data points and clear stances you have made, and build their case on that.

Because here’s the deal: Dallas ISD may be a big-city school district, but District 2 (and every other district) are very much small towns. Guys, you have to see these folks you’re carping at on the Internet every week in the grocery store. You’ve got to sit next to them at the PTA meeting next year. You are going to be seated at the next table over at The Lot on the regular. You have to live and work next to these people you’ve been fussing at – can you come back from that?

Passion is great. But be passionate about facts, not tearing down the opponent. If your facts are good, you shouldn’t need to make snide comments about worthy organizations like Reading Partners. You shouldn’t needlessly malign a candidate because you don’t realize that the Lakewood area does not wholly make up District 2. You shouldn’t need to bring unborn children and former girlfriends into the fray. You shouldn’t need to do a lot of the things I’ve seen done since the road to the election began.

Now, I know some have made a huge deal about how Dustin Marshall’s kids go to private school. And in a focus group meeting I attended a few months ago, I was poopooed when I said that would be a bigger deal to voters than everyone else in the room thought. And I was right.

But what was interesting was that in the months that followed, I kept asking people who brought this up as their sole objection to Marshall’s candidacy two questions: Their opinion of trustee Dan Micciche, who does not have a child in the district and frequently has been approached for help by parents during this time that D2 doesn’t have representation; and whether they felt a business owner should be allowed to have a say or interest in the educational trajectory of his potential future workforce.

I’ve never gotten anyone to answer either question. I don’t know what that means, because I won’t assume things (even though I know that can be a blood sport for some).  But it sure seemed interesting to me that nobody will answer those questions.

And let me be clear – I’ve seen some really well-informed supporters on all sides during this campaign season, too. If you talked about the planks in your candidate’s platform without getting ugly, be proud of yourself.  As I said earlier this week, District 2 has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to trustee candidates. You have had four – FOUR – people willing to spend their political capital, their actual money, and their time for a round-the-clock volunteer job that is pretty freaking thankless.

Whether you’re for Marshall or Havlick, go look at the nearest cute little face right now and remember why the candidates are in it, and why you should be too. And regardless of whether you were nice or mean this election season, thank you sincerely for your interest in the district. It is my hope that we can all roll up our sleeves and work together on what is best for the students next year.

I’ll be back around 7 p.m. as we start getting early voting totals.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

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