Posted by: jamesvw | June 6, 2011

Election 2011: A Primer to Municipal Elections

Election 2011: A Primer to Elections

Municipality Edition

Mayoral and City Elections 2011

Questions about voting? Just ask

Mayor of Baltimore (Sept. 13)Mayor of Birmingham (Nov. 8 ) Mayor of Charlotte (Nov. 8 )Mayor of Dallas (June 18)Mayor of Denver (June 7)Mayor of Fort Worth (June 18) Mayor of Houston (Nov. 8 )Mayor of Indianapolis (Nov. 8 )Mayor of Las Vegas (June 7)Mayor of Philadelphia (Nov. 8 )Mayor of Phoenix (Aug. 30) – Mayor of Raleigh (Oct. 11)Mayor of Salt Lake City (Sept. 13) Mayor of San Francisco (Nov. 8 )

Many cities throughout the United States will have Mayoral and local elections this year. This started with the election of Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, sworn in recently and also included a pair of initial races in Dallas and Fort Worth, both cities which will have runoffs to determine their new city leader. There was also the recent surprise election of an African-American Democrat in traditionally conservative Jacksonville, Alvin Brown.



June 18 – **Update** Mike Rawlings was elected Mayor of Dallas with 56% of the vote**

For our election day results, click here

Voters selected between four candidates during the May 14 election, but no one crossed the necessary 50% mark. This means that the two leading candidates, Mike Rawlings and David Kunkle will square off. Rawlings is a former Pizza Hutt executive and also served as Dallas’ czar on combating homelessness. Kunkle served as Dallas Police Chief

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Fort Worth

June 18 = **UPDATE** Betsy Price was elected Mayor of Fort Worth with 56% of the vote

For our election day results, click here

In Fort Worth, the two candidates who have emerged from the pack are Betsy Price, who received 43% in the initial round and Jim Lane, with 26%. Price was a Tarrant County tax assessor while Lane is a former city councilman.

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June 7

**UPDATE** – Michael Hancock won the Denver Mayoral Race with 58% of the vote. For our election day results, click here

Denver will also hold a runoff for its new mayor, following the election of John Hickenlooper as Governor last November. The two candidates are Chris Romer, a former State Senator and City Councilman Michael Hancock.

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The results from the first round on May 3rd were

Votes % of Votes
Doug Linkhart 10,752 9.44%
Carol Boigon 2,366 2.08%
Chris Romer 32,328 28.38%
Thomas Andrew Wolf 2,150 1.89%
James Mejia 29,310 25.73%
Jeff Peckman 803 0.70%
Theresa Spahn 3,386 2.97%
Michael B. Hancock 30,974 27.19%
Danny F. Lopez 1,048 0.92%
Ken Simpson 527 0.46%
Write-In 278 0.24%


Las Vegas

June 7

**UPDATE** – Carolyn Goodman was elected Mayor of Las Vegas with 60% of the vote. For full results from the race, click here

In the city both with one of the biggest population growths of the last decade and one of the hardest hit by the recent recession, current Mayor Oscar Goodman is term-limited out of his position. But that does not necessarily mean he will be far from the action of the office. In a runoff, his wife, Carolyn Goodman will attempt to succeed him, running also as an independent. She will be facing Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani.

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Baltimore (full city post here)

September 13 Primary

A good blog to follow the Baltimore Mayoral Race is Jolly For Rolly

Current Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who rose to the position after her predecessor Sheila Dixon resigned upon an embezzlement conviction, is running to be elected in her own right. Yet, because politics in Baltimore are consistently exciting, she will have to overcome a large crowd challenger her for the top job in the city.

Candidates for the seat include: Circuit Court clerk Frank Conaway,  former executive vice president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors Jody Landers, talk show host Catalina Byrd, former city planning director who comes with a fun blog, Otis Rolley, city councilman Carl Stokes and Catherine Pugh, a well known State Senator in the city.

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Salt Lake City

Though a liberal bastion in a quite conservative state, often the recipe for dynamic local races, this year seems to be shaping up without much fire emerging in the mayoral race. Incumbent Ralph Becker is popular, a slightly left of center leader, who has balanced his appeal to the many constituencies of the city and he is running for reelection. For now he has the race to himself, this will surely change, but it remains to be seen whether he will face a credible challenge.

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November 8

Though the Republican nomination for this race is still up in the air from the May 17th primary – Democratic incumbent Michael Nutter is the favorite for reelection in this heavily blue-leaning city. As it stands now, Republican Karen Brown, a longtime Catholic school teacher leads real-estate agent John Featherman by 57 votes. Whomever emerges from the final count will have their work cut out for them. Nutter won with 86% of the vote in the last general election in 2007.


San Francisco (for a full city race profile, click here)

November 8

This may end up being the most exciting race of 2011. Gavin Newsom was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of California, surely as a stepping stone to his goal to run the state, and his replacement, Edwin Lee, is not running for the full term. This has led to a swarm of candidates who will all run on one ballot.

One of the most intriguing factors in this race will be the use of instant runoff voting. Voters will rank their choices, 1-3, and and votes are redistributed automatically as low-vote receiving candidates are “knocked out”. This means that if my 1st preference receives the fewest number of 1st preference votes, the candidate is eliminated and the system automatically gives my vote to my second choice. This continues instantaneously until the votes have been distributed to the top two and whomever has the most votes wins. (Still confused? To learn more about instant runoff voting and how it works, click here)

Candidates for Mayor of San Francisco, in alphabetical order, are:

Michela Alioto-Pier, former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from District 2
David Chiu, member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from District 3
Bevan Dufty, former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from District 8
Tony Hall, former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from District 7
Dennis Herrera, City Attorney of San Francisco
Joanna Rees, venture capitalist
Phil Ting, Assessor-Recorder of San Francisco
Leland Yee, California State Senator from California’s 8th State Senate district

To learn more about this race, I highly recommend the ‘Usual Suspects’ site on San Francisco politics.



October 11

It has been a long time since Raleigh has had a new mayor. Despite holding its mayoral elections every two years, Charles Meeker has held the position for 10 years. Now, as he declined to run for a sixth term, the race is wide-open. So far, the first to enter the race is City Councilwoman Nancy McFarlane, who worked as a pharmacist before being elected in District A. Undoubtedly new candidates will throw their hat into the ring in the weeks to come.



November 8

Republican Mayor Greg Ballard was one of the surprise stories of 2007, seen originally as a long shot to defeat the incumbent at the time. In 2011, he will be seeking reelection, attempting to replicate a victory many did not believe likely by a Republican. Facing him will be Democrat Melina Kennedy, a former deputy mayor of the city.

It is sizing up to be an expensive race, with Ballard holding $2 million in reserve while Kennedy emerged from the primary with $1.3 million.


November 8

This may seem like deja vu for those of you who were readers last year. At that time, Birmingham was reeling from the conviction of their mayor and after a close race elected William Bell to lead the city for the rest of the term. Now faced with reelection in November, a lot has changed in Birmingham and electoral politics are far from the minds of most. That is because of the horrific storms in April that decimated neighborhoods in the city, killed many residents and left the already economically-struggling city with large cleanup bills and deepening pessimism about a revival any time soon.

Time will tell if there ends up being any competition for the sitting mayor. For the time being, focus, rightfully so, is on the cleanup and rebuilding of the city.



November 8

In the city picked to host the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and in a key swing state that President Obama hopes to win again in his pursuit of reelection, the 2011 mayoral race in Charlotte could become rife with symbolism for next year. In 2009, Democrat Anthony Foxx won a highly contested election and became the youngest mayor in the history of the city as well as its second African-American mayor.

In the campaign, Mayor Foxx will be running on the growth the city has undergone since coming to power at the height of the recession in the state. Yet the economy still is running slowly in the area and he faces a certain challenge from Republicans. At the moment, the only declared Republican candidate is Scott Stone, the vice president for an engineering firm in the city.


Phoenix (for a full city profile, click here)

August 30

Incumbent Phil Gordon is term limited this year which means that there will be a new head of one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. At just shy of 1.5 million residents, it is the 6th largest city in America. The state has also been undergoing a great deal of political turmoil surrounding immigration laws (most recently SB 1070), gun culture and was hit hard by the bursting of the real estate bubble that grew a great deal in the rapidly transforming western states.

Six candidates have lined up so far to take the reins of the city for the next four years. Two current city council members are running, Peggy Neely from District 2 (technically still exploring a run) and Claude Mattox from District 5 in the Maryvale area. Another former colleague is running, Greg Stanton, who represented District 6 for 9 years and also served as a Deputy State Attorney General. With ties to both Sen. John McCain and as a former chief of staff to Governor Fife Symington, Wes Gullett has statewide governmental experience and also served on the Phoenix Planning Commission. Also running are libertarian Thane Eichenauer and retired Marine veteran John Horozansky.

Hat tip to Lynh Bui at the Arizona Republic for information on the race.


Houston (full city race profile)

November 8

Mayor Annise Parker won a close race in 2009 and now is running for reelection of the almost 2.5 million person city. Though the field will not be set until September, she has drawn a formidable challenger in Houston Fire Department Deputy Chief Fernando Herrera. Also running is a former council aide, Kevin Simms. There are two other potential candidates that have been talked about a great deal, former City Attorney Benjamin Hall and tax assessor Paul Bettencourt.



  1. Denver Colorado voters have been mailed ballots. The runoff election is June 7. The ballot will contain candidates for Mayor, Clerk and Recorder and City Council Districts 1, 5 and 8.
    Get in touch with your firends in Denver and remind them to mail it in.

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