Following Betsy Price’s announcement in early 2021 that she would not seek re-election for a sixth term as mayor of Fort Worth, a closely watched mayoral election saw Mattie Parker declare victory in the runoff.
On Saturday night, Parker led with 54% of the vote, according to unofficial results, before her opponent and former Democratic county chairwoman and AT&T executive Deborah Peoples conceded defeat. 37-year-year old Parker is the youngest mayor of any major U.S. city and was the former chief of staff for outgoing Fort Worth Mayor Price. She is a founder of an educational coalition, though refused to commit in her campaign to backing a police civilian review board in a city where police shootings and the 2016 arrest of a Black woman who called 911 have elevated tensions and led to protests.
Though officially nonpartisan, the election resembled a Texas battleground race and Kenneth Barr, the former Democratic mayor of Fort Worth who led the city from 1996 to 2003, described the election as having “moved as far in the partisan direction as any we’ve ever had.” Republican Gov. Greg Abbott endorsed Parker and criticized Peoples’ positions on law enforcement. Meanwhile, Peoples attracted high-profile endorsements, including Julián Castro and Beto O’Rourke.
Like her predecessor, Parker considers herself a Republican, but both she and Peoples sought to downplay their party affiliations as they ran for the nonpartisan office, talking about middle-of-the-road issues and unifying the city.
In her victory Speech Saturday, Parker echoed that message: “In Fort Worth, we’re gonna embrace positive policies and consensus building with ferocity.”