By: Jackie Hardy, NDG Contributing Writer
Irving candidates are gearing up for the May 6 City Council elections. The seats up for re-election are Place 3 and Place 5 in addition to the Mayoral seat.
A few years back, Irving adopted a single-member district after a lawsuit was brought against the City alleging a violation of the Voters Rights Act. Irving implemented a mixed voting system of two at-large seats (Place 2 and 8), which also includes the Mayoral seat; and six single-member districts( Places 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7).
With Place 3 and 5 being single-member districts, candidates running for office in those respective districts must have been a resident for a minimum of 12 months and only voters residing in those districts can vote for the open Place 3 and Place 5 seats.
With the mayoral office being an at-large seat, candidates can live anywhere within the City of Irving and voting is open to all Irving residents.
There are four candidates running in the upcoming Irving mayoral race. The mayoral candidates are: Elvia Espino, J.C. Gonzalez, Kristi Pena, and Rick Stopfer.
A look at the Irving Mayor’s Race
Elvia Espino, a three-year Irving resident and Public Relations Executive, is running on the following campaign issues: to work to unify the City through engaging the citizens; balanced economic development that will positively affect growth in both the northern and southern sectors of Irving; and stronger infrastructures of city roads, highways, and buildings
“We live in a dynamic country. One of honor and deep-rooted heritage, it is my privilege to represent all people,“ asserts Espino on her campaign website.
Espino civic and community involvement is diverse as she has served on the Dallas and Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce (member); Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (member); Texas Education Agency Advisory Committee for the Special Education Board (member); and former Community Engagement and Special Projects Manager for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston. For more information about Espino, please visit www.elviaespino.com.
J.C. Gonzalez has resided in Irving for almost four years and currently works for Wells Fargo, where he holds the position of Vice President/Branch Manager. Gonzalez is committed to improve City infrastructure; neighborhood safety; and community-wide development within the City.
“We need to improve our streets, make sure we have clean water, and improve neighborhood safety in Irving. I also plan on working closely with the Chambers of Commerce for community-wide economic development,” promises Gonzalez shared on his campaign website page.
His civic and community service affiliations include: Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (chairman); Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (member); Plano and Farmers Branch Chamber of Commerce (member); Dallas ISD Minority/Women Business Enterprise Advisory Committee (member); and Small Business Development Center at Collin County College (instructor). To learn more about mayoral candidate Gonzalez, please visit his campaign website at .
Kristi Pena has called Irving home for the past 41 years. Pena, a self-employed make-up consultant, hopes to foster economic development for South Irving; ensure better City oversight of multi-family development projects; unify the City; and address the homeless population of Irving.
“It’s time for a new generation of leaders to propel Irving into the future. We need to maintain the gains of Economic Growth and Transparency made through Mayor Beth Van Duyne and increase them,” sentiments shared by Pena on her campaign website.
Her associations with respect to community and civic involvement include: Nimitz High School PTA (president); Quarterback Club (treasurer); District Improvement Committee (former chairperson/member); and Campus Improvement and Strategic Improvement Committees (former member). For additional information on Pena, please go to .
Rick Stopfer is also a long-time resident of Irving as he’s been a resident for the past 28 years. Stopfer is a retired Automotive Consultant. The mayoral candidate is running on the campaign platform of Keeping Irving Moving as it relates to infrastructure; capitalizing on opportunities for smart growth; ensuring safety of neighborhoods and businesses; engaging corporate and residential citizens; and fiscal responsibility.
Stopfer has held various city offices and his resume includes serving in the following boards/committees: Dallas Area Rapid Transit; Regional Transportation Council; Irving Heritage Society (president); and Irving City Council Communications Committee (former liaison). He has also served on the Irving City Council (Place 8), where throughout his tenure he has held the following offices of Mayor Pro-Tem and Deputy Mayor Pro-Tem.
Stopfer shares his feelings on his campaign website regarding doing what’s right for Irving with respect to finding solutions for the 23, 000 plus diverse residents comprising the City’s demographics and his hope is to capitalize on opportunities that‘s best for all of Irving.
“I pledge to conduct city business in the most fiscally responsible and transparent manner possible. No cloak and dagger routine – just honesty, integrity and accountability. I pledge to make decisions that are right for Irving,” a pledge Stopfer shares on his campaign website. Campaign website for Stopfer is .
Irving City Council Elections
Incumbent Dennis Webb is running unopposed for the Place 3. Webb has served two consecutive terms.
A retired Lieutenant of the Grand Prairie Fire Department, Webb decided to throw his hat in the political ring back in 2011. Webb sits on the following City of Irving Committees: Community Services and Public Safety Committee and the Transportation and Natural Resources Committee; and he is the council representative to the Dallas County Flood Control District 1 and the “Keep Irving Beautiful” board.
In addition to his civic duties, Webb serves as pastor for the Bear Creek Community Church located in Irving; a church he founded in 1996. For more information regarding Webb’s background and experience, visit .
Incumbent Oscar Ward is seeking a second term for the Place 5 seat. According to a recent Voter’s Survey, Ward has lived in Irving for 50 years and is a retired General Manager and Engineer Investments (401k).
Ward emphasized his reasons for seeking re-election is to continue supporting/initiating actions and projects including infrastructure funding, planning for future water supply, economic development, specifically where Texas Stadium existed; along with completion of new developments, respectively the Irving Music Factory, Convention Center Hotel and Hidden Ridge Project (Verizon).
“Voters should support me over my opponent based on my Engineering and Business education, my job experience, knowledge of city government and my project funding choices,” shares Ward when asked on the survey why Irving voters should choose him over his opponent.
A few of Ward‘s present public service positions include Audit and Finance Committee (chairman); North Texas Crime Commission; Regional Transportation Council; and Dallas Central Utility Reclamation District. Some of his current business and community affiliations are: Irving Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce; Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Irving Heritage Society; and Irving Arts Board Liaison. Voters can read more about Ward‘s credentials on the City of Irving’s website.
Abdel Elhassan is a 22 year Irving resident who is also hoping to secure the Place 5 seat. Elhassan is a Muslim-American business owner who also happened to be the uncle to Ahmed Mohamed best known as “clock boy.” Mohamed was the MacArthur High School student that brought a homemade alarm clock to school in which was mistaken as a bomb causing the story to make national news and led to an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for violations of discrimination and harassment.
According to his survey, the top issues he pledges to pursue if elected is the inclusion of the most qualified and talented public policy oriented Irving citizens representing diverse backgrounds; a strong supporter of Irving Police and Fire departments; citizens’ safety; fiscal responsibility; and economic development.
Per his campaign website, Elhassan is running for office because he feels the City needs more representation of all ethnic, racial, and cultural communities of Irving.
“ My main focus will be to unite and serve our diverse community as one Irving,” he pledges on his campaign website.
Elhassan is the founding member of Sudanese-American Association of North Texas, served as president for the Alsufi Center in Irving; and is a current member of the Irving Political Coalition and the DFW Sudanese-American Association, which offers educational and humanitarian assistance to Sudanese citizens of Irving. Voters can go to to learn more about his vision for Irving.
Early voting runs through May 2.