None of the four candidates in Saturday’s Dallas ISD District 2 election garnered enough votes to win, so the top two vote-getters, Preston Hollow resident Dustin Marshall and M Streets resident Mita Havlick, will face each other in a runoff on Saturday, June 18. Oak Lawn residents Suzanne Smith and Carlos Marroquin came in third and a distant fourth, with Havlick eking out a victory over Smith by only 46 votes.
Marshall claimed 43 percent of the votes, winning precincts in Preston Hollow, Lakewood and along the Park Cities perimeter. Havlick, with 28 percent, was dominant in East Dallas neighborhoods around Lower Greenville and the M Streets as well as just north of Mockingbird. Smith, with 27 percent, performed best in Old East Dallas, Oak Lawn, Bluffview and around Love Field.
Over the next five weeks, both Marshall and Havlick hope to court enough of Smith’s voters to win, and also to convince voters to show up at the polls June 18, as runoffs have notoriously lower turnouts.
Marshall was hoping to receive more than 50 percent of votes Saturday but “it’s tough to get 50 percent with four people in the race,” he says, “and obviously, it was a talented field.” He notes that “Mita has a passionate group of supporters” but points out his strength in the areas west of Central Expressway and also closer to White Rock Lake, where Smith was his top competitor.
“I hope and think a lot of those voters who supported Suzanne will support me,” he says.
Havlick also believes she’ll pick up a number of votes in East Dallas that Smith claimed, in part because they have similar messages, she says.
“We understand that the teachers have been somewhat marginalized, and I feel that she understands public education more; she’s a product of public education,” says Havlick, who has campaigned on her status as a DISD parent. “Dustin doesn’t have either one of those things.”
Havlick also cites her and Smith’s fundraising similarities. “We didn’t think you had to raise six figures to win a school board race,” she says, criticizing Marshall’s fundraising totals and what she calls the “pray and spray” approach.
Both Marshall and Havlick will have to raise additional funds to compete in the runoff. Marshall was down to a few hundred dollars at the last campaign finance report, and says he’ll focus now on mailers and “get out the vote activity.” Havlick says she spent most of her remaining funds the week before the election, but “we had funds pouring in over the weekend and we haven’t even actively started fundraising for part two.”
Smith, though out of the race, says her triumph is that “we’ve elevated the conversation around DISD.” She said the same in an email sent the morning of the election.
“Education alone is not enough; a high school degree is not enough. We have to be thinking more about having a stronger start and a more successful finish,” she says. “I’m hoping that conversation continues to go forward.”
Smith also is happy to have been influential in breaking District 2’s mold of uncontested elections that date back to 2002.
“I think this community will always have a contested election moving forward and talk about what they want,” Smith says. “Even though I disagree with the decision they made, I’m glad they got to make the decision, and it will make that person more accountable as a trustee.”