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Politics & Government

Turnout for the Lone City Council Race Smashed the Totals of Previous Elections

Maybe there’s something to Mayor Mike Rawlings’ plan to move municipal voting to the fall.
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More than 14,000 people voted in the race to replace Dwaine Caraway. In Dallas County, that's a whole lot.

Turnout for the Lone City Council Race Smashed the Totals of Previous Elections

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One piece of information that got buried in the post-election hubbub: Within the District 4 City Council race—a 13-headed affair to represent the part of Oak Cliff vacated by Dwaine Caraway amid his felonious kickback scheme—14,297 people cast votes.

That number might not look like much standing next to Dallas County’s overall turnout—about 724,000 people voted here in the Senate race, for instance. But Dallas’ City Council and mayoral races have been, historically speaking, very poorly attended. During the last Council election in 2017, Dwaine Caraway’s 1,760 votes took District 4 over Carolyn King Arnold’s 1,553.

Caraway, of course, pled guilty to corruption and resigned from the Council earlier this year, hence the need for Tuesday’s election. That gave us a chance to test out what would happen if we moved the City Council elections to November, a change for which Mayor Mike Rawlings has pushed. “The only reason someone would not want to do this?” he rhetorically asked Eric Celeste earlier this year. “They do not want to lose political power.”

The result of the trial, albeit in a midterm that revved up voters like none other: more than four times as many people voted than for the same City Council seat in 2017. Nobody pulled the majority, so it’ll be a December runoff between former Council member Arnold (whose 3,688 votes were good enough for 25.8 percent of the vote) and Keyaira Saunders, an activist-minded 28-year-old (who came in at 2,445 votes and 17.1 percent). Prepare for regression toward the mean.