The Strange Race for Dallas County Tax Assessor

By Lena Levario | Friday, February 26, 2016

I plan to vote today.  There are four candidates in the Democratic primary for Dallas County Tax Assessor.  I hadn’t paid attention to this particular race, until now. When I went to find out about the candidates, I discovered that there is absolutely no information about two of them.  Those two do not have websites.  They are not on Facebook.  The League of Women Voters’ Guide is blank under their names but for the notice from the League:  “could not be contacted.”   And, based on a search of their website, it appears that the Dallas Morning News has not reported on the race.

John Ames, the current Dallas County Tax Assessor, and opponent Bennie Elenora Brown both have campaign websites.  We can learn all about them.  However, the other two opponents, Kristen Smith and Norma Jean Scarso have failed to provide information to voters about their campaign.

I did, however, find something interesting.  In a 2015 newsletter published by John Ames’ office, Mr. Ames congratulates an employee of his by the name of Kristen Smith for being named his employee –of-the-quarter.  And, in a 2014 newsletter, Mr. Ames announced the retirement of one of his employees, Candi Scarso.  I have no idea whether these two women are related in any way to the two candidates running for the tax assessor position.  But, it does make me wonder.

It is also interesting to note that in 2008, when Mr. Ames won his seat, he won it in a run-off election.  Just as now, in the 2008 Democratic primary, Mr. Ames had 3 opponents.  The results of that primary are as follows:

Diana L. Lackey                        45.03%    88,604

Norris “Stretch” Rideaux        15.04%    29,594

John R. Ames                           26.70%    52,532

Se-Gwen Tyler                          13.24%    26,051

Total votes              196,781

Ms. Lackey got significantly more votes than Mr. Ames.  Most people would say she was the clear winner.  However, because no one candidate received more than half of the votes, the top two vote-getters were in a run-off election. The results of the run-off election are as follows.  Mr. Ames won by a relatively small margin. As you can see, the total number of voters in the run-off election equals about 6% of the total who voted in the primary:

Diana L. Lackey                     46.82%    5,227

John R. Ames                          53.18%    5,936

Total votes               11,163

It is also instructive to know that the most powerful voter in the Democratic primary is the female; especially the African American female.  In the 2014 Democratic primary, with very few exceptions, every African American female in a countywide race won the election against a non-African American female candidate.  This has been the trend for many years.

Many people showing up to vote in the primary do so in order to decide who will be the presidential candidate.  They won’t even bother to vote for the candidates further down the ballot.  And, if they do, many women will vote for a woman, knowing nothing else about the candidate.  I try to be an educated voter.  But it seems that in this race, the candidates would rather that I remain in the dark.




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