By David Wilfong, NDG Contributing Writer
A final round of runoff races was featured during Monday Night Politics (MNP) at the African American Museum in Fair Park on May 7. The event, hosted by the Dallas Examiner, gives candidates the opportunity to make their case to the public and is held in conjunction with every election cycle.
Monday night’s event featured five races, and in all but one, there was only one candidate appearing for the event. In the first race, for the Texas 68th District Court, incumbent Martin Hoffman noted the absence of challenger Kim Brown, who had not been present at either MNP opportunity, giving little opportunity to compare the two campaigns.
“I don’t ever like to speak ill of anybody, but this is the second time we’ve done Monday Night Politics and neither time has my opponent showed up,” Hoffman said. “That may not seem like a big deal, but I will tell you that in the five months I’ve been campaigning I’ve only seen my opponent four times.”
The race for Dallas County Court at Law, Number 4, saw four candidates running in the Democratic primary. That field is now down to only two with Paula Rosales challenging incumbent Ken Tapscott in the runoff. Rosales led the first round of voting by 9,442 votes and was the only candidate appearing at MNP.
Tapscott had challenged Rosales’ experience when the two met at the first forum, noting he had more than two decades of experience in civil law, while Rosales’ background is split into multiple disciplines. Rosales stated she is more qualified than Tapscott was when he first ran for the judgeship, and sees her varied past as an advantage rather than a hindrance.
“If lucky enough to be elected, what I’m bringing to the County Court at Law, Number 4 bench is diverse life experience, and diverse legal field experience,” Rosales said. “I am first-generation American, second-generation attorney and third- and fourth-generation human rights advocate.”
In the Dallas County Court of Criminal Appeals, Number 2, Pamela Luther and Marilynn Mayse are heading into the runoff from an original field of four candidates. Mayse, who came in second in the first primary vote, was the only candidate appearing at the forum.
Mayse comes from a background as a criminal defense attorney. She says she is looking to incorporate more programs to defer convictions, hopefully giving defendants the opportunity to avoid long-lasting repercussions from early minor infractions.
“When somebody comes to jail, I feel like the whole family comes to jail,” Mayse said. “And people will say, ‘Well, these are just merely misdemeanors.’ There’s nothing minor about coming to court before a judge, jury and attorneys; and so I believe I am the person for such times as this and I’m asking for your support.”
In the race for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4 Place 2, incumbent Katy Hubner fell to third place in the first round of voting, leaving challengers Sasha Moreno and Fred “Action” Jackson facing off in the runoff.
Only Moreno was present for the MNP forum on Monday night. Jackson has been absent both times the race was featured. Moreno, who came in second in the first vote, said she is running to make the JP court a “people’s court,” and says all too often the proceedings work against people who are left to represent themselves.
“I actually have my own experience in the courtroom,” Moreno said. “I had a minor traffic citation several years ago when I got out of law school. Unfortunately, I graduated 2011 when there was a big recession, and I was laid off from my first job at a law firm. So I went to traffic court, I was on unemployment, and I knew I had to let the judge know I knew as an attorney I could ask for community service. Most people don’t know you can ask for community service in lieu of a fine. So I asked the judge for community service. Luckily for me, he knew where I was coming from and gave me 60 hours of community service. That’s why I decided to run because someone passed on that grace and that opportunity for me, and so I want to do the same with our community.”
The race for Dallas County Constable, Precinct 4, saw a plethora of candidates vying for the spot in the Democratic primary. After the dust settled, Sha Steger Knight and Edward Wright were left standing for the runoff. Both candidates are advocating for mentorship programs and various outreach opportunities within the community. Both also come to the table with lengthy tenures in law enforcement.
Steger Knight led the field but fell short of a majority. She is currently employed with the Constable’s Office in Precinct 1 and sees her current role as an advantage to move into the leadership role in Precinct 4.
“I am 15 years into the Dallas County Constable’s Office,” Steger Knight said. “All of my law enforcement experience has been with the constable’s office. So I can assure you I am the best qualified, best fit for this position and I will just ask for your continued support as we go back to the polls. I was the frontrunner in the prior elections out of the seven of us, and so I just ask for your continued support and knowing that your vote is a vote of confidence of good leadership and experience.”
Edward Wright came in second during the first round of voting and needs to make up a 1,412-vote deficit to win the runoff election. While not working directly in the Constable’s Office, he recalled a long career in law enforcement which he believes makes him more than qualified for the position.
“I’ve been an officer with the sheriff’s department for 30 years,” Wright said. “And in my 30 years with the sheriff’s department, I’ve trained all of the sheriff’s department; all of them. I’ve trained with the U.S. Marshalls, the FBI, Secret Service. I’ve worked undercover. I’ve worked with the warrants division. I’ve got everything with the sheriff’s department.”
Early voting for the primary runoff election is May 14-18. Election Day is May 22.