There is a narrative out there that it is difficult to tell who’s in the lead for the crowded mayoral race. Gromer Jeffers actually wrote about that very thing last week in the Dallas Morning News. Very few have major name recognition. And our voter turnout resembles, to be polite, something between a fire raging inside a metal garbage can and the trash island floating in the Pacific. (Just 6 percent of you voted in the last mayoral election; this week is the final week to register, so do that if you haven’t.)
Most of the polling we’ve heard about pits six or seven of the candidates very tightly together before a steep drop off, but we haven’t seen any of these beyond second and third-hand conversation. So what other ways can we gauge who is leading the pack? Yard signs? Mike Ablon seems to have found every fence in Dallas. I see a lot of Lynn McBee around Oak Lawn. Jim Schutze is speaking Scott Griggs’ lead into existence.
On April 5, we’ll get our first look at something that usually puts these things into context: campaign donations. That’s when the first filing reports since January—when not all were even in the race—will be made public. But first, as noted last week, we received some self-reported clues courtesy The Dallas Morning News’ voter guide. Ablon has apparently raised $600,000.
Jason Villalba, however, has not. He has raised about $50,000. But he won our poll this week. So he has that. Onto week five!
The poll has ended.
1. Jason Villalba
Total Votes This Week: 966 votes
Last Week: 771 (2)
Villalba didn’t have to share with The Dallas Morning News how much money he’d raised, but he did. And it doesn’t exactly measure up to his opponents. Which may help better explain why he’s been—or a staffer has been—so punchy under his Facebook account, calling some of his opponents “mamby pamby politicians.” It also helps better explain his strategy of veering to the right, where he’s setting himself apart from the rest of the crowd by appealing to a more conservative base, never mind that Eric Johnson has already courted the big-money folks he probably was hoping for. It’s a strategy not unlike the bracket I filled out for March Madness. I have Michigan State and Virginia in the final. It worked out for me so far, will it work out for Jason? — Matt Goodman
2. Albert Black
Total Votes This Week: 583
Last Week: 973 (1)
Black has been de-throned in more ways than one. We found out this week that he’s no longer the top fundraiser in the pack. He told the DMN he’s raised about $400,000, which placed him behind Ablon and Montoya among those who chose to give up the information. Back in January, Black had raised about $278,000, but keep in mind he declared his candidacy nearly four months before anyone else in the field. In his DMN questionnaire, he sites the Trinity Toll Road and juvenile curfew as items on which he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Mayor Rawlings, he discusses boosting Grow South, and he submits a three-pronged approach to hiring more cops. At an arts-related mayoral forum, Black voiced support for a significant boost—to the maximum 15 percent—in the amount of hotel occupancy taxes that go toward the arts. — Shawn Shinneman
3. Scott Griggs
Total Votes This Week: 291
Last Week: 303 (4)
Griggs had a good week, standing out at mayoral forums in which he called for the city to send the money it gives to VisitDallas to the arts community. His campaign even produced a video of his statements for Facebook. He played coy in the voter guide about how much money he raised, and gave my favorite non-answer of the bunch: “sufficient funds to execute a winning campaign.” His answers in the voter guide are vintage Griggs—he writes about the need to revitalize neighborhoods by figuring out the most appropriate types of investment. Bishop Arts wouldn’t work everywhere, after all, and he touts how the relatively minimal $1.7 million city investment has grown into a successful neighborhood. He calls for reforming DART’s bus routes and has this nice ditty about highways: “I was the councilmember that killed the Trinity Tollroad. I will be the Mayor that removes I-345. I also support a new I-30 that will reunite downtown, Fair Park, and the Cedars.” I also got my first big mailer from Griggs—it’s a gatefold! — M.G.
4. Miguel Solis
Total Votes This Week: 121
Last Week: 155 (5)
I just got an email from the Solis campaign, actually. It maps out a “plan to build trust between police and communities,” and includes some generalspeak about the importance of improving the quality of life for police officers. The meat of it is what he’s calling the community hero initiative, which would offer city loans to cover down payment costs, provide a discount on the list prices of homes, give a salary bump to cops who live in Dallas, and offer relocation support through the housing department. It doesn’t talk about how to pay for those things. Solis unwittingly became a social media target of Councilman Philip Kingston, a Griggs ally, this weekend. Solis says he’s raised nearly $400,000. The next month will be interesting. — M.G.
5. Mike Ablon
Total Votes This Week: 112
Last Week: 139 (6)
I feel like Mike had a relatively quiet week. He’s the biggest self-reported earner so far, with close to $600,000. His top donors include Tom Hicks, Herb Weitzman, and Lisa and Ed Ewing. His answers to the voting guide questions also zoom into neighborhoods and infrastructure, filling potholes and implementing the comprehensive housing policy. He also dings DART pretty hard, in particular regarding how much money Dallas sends to it and the return the city receives: “our subsidizing DART on behalf of the region, and then to have them use the same tax dollars to incentivize businesses to more of the suburbs, is not a fair or sustainable model.” Marcos Ronquillo, who ran for mayor against Mike Rawlings in the last mayoral election, officially is backing Ablon. You may recall that he was wavering after former City Attorney Larry Casto dropped out. — M.G.
6. Alyson Kennedy
Total Votes This Week: 79
Last Week: 480 (3)
She reported less than $500 in fundraising to the DMN. Her answers in the voter guide are par for the course if you’ve heard her speak. On corporate relocations: “Working people in Dallas and the surrounding suburbs should not be pitted against each other for jobs, but should unify and fight together to better our conditions.” On GrowSouth: “Growsouth is a program ultimately designed to benefit speculators, landlords, banks and corporations not working people.” And on streets: “I support a massive government-funded jobs program at union-scale wages paid for by corporate profits to rebuild crumbling infrastructure like streets and roads.” — S.S.
7. Lynn McBee
Total Votes This Week: 49
Last Week: 64 (9)
I’m very curious as to how much McBee has raised. She didn’t tell The News. Last week, Nancy and Richard Rogers held a fundraiser for McBee. You got to be a co-host for $5,000 a couple. If you donated $1,000, you got to be a guest. I would hope that also came with a meal of some sort. Or wine. Also on the host-list: Nancy Nasher, Fanchon and Howard Hallam. She’s had a few of these big-name fundraisers, including with Trammell Crow. Her answers on the voter guide are rather broad, but they’re heavy on her volunteering bonafides and her desire to fix big problems like a lack of affordable housing stock. She had some interesting things to say this week at the arts forum, including being in favor of helping artists afford housing and studio space. — M.G.
8. Regina Montoya
Total Votes This Week: 47
Last Week: 89
Montoya sent out big mailers with Hillary Clinton’s face on it and a quote attributed to her: “Regina has dedicated her life to making sure everyone has access to opportunity. She is exactly the kind of leader and role model we need to have in public service today.” She says her team has knocked on more than 50,000 doors, sent 255,000 texts, and filled out 5,000 post cards. She says she’s raised about $450,000. Her answers to the questions in the voter guide are in line with her public comments: a focus on investing in residents, boosting workforce housing, urging DART to better serve people in southern Dallas, and reiterating her volunteer roles within city boards and commissions. — M.G.
9. Eric Johnson
Total Votes This Week: 40
Last Week: 97
Johnson rolled out a lengthy list of endorsements this week, spanning leaders of the business, civic, and faith varieties. You had repeats of the big-money folks we already knew about, people like Ray Hunt and Randall Stephenson, but there are plenty of other recognizable names on the list. We attempted to break it down here. And then the DMN wrote about how minister Maxie Johnson appeared on the list even though he never made contact with the EJ campaign. The campaign called it a regrettable “miscommunication.” Outside of the endorsements, he’s been engaging in some robocalls and sending out mailers. It will be interesting to see how the financial fire power translates into fundraising numbers. We’ll have to wait until April 5; Johnson didn’t give any hint in the News’ voter guide. — S.S.