Fort Worth District 9 Councilmember-elect Ann Zadeh doesn’t seem to have had much down time since she won Saturday’s special election runoff against Ed Lasater. The two were in the runoff of a May 10 special election to fill the unexpired term of Joel Burns, who resigned in February to earn a mid-career master's in public administration at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass.
“During the campaign,” Zadeh said, “I reached out to find out what they [ constituents ] were concerned about.” Feedback is still coming in, she said Monday. “I’ve received calls, text messages, Facebook messages and lots of emails,” and she continues “responding to people as they get back to me.” She’s organizing “lots of loose papers” into a big notebook that contains the ideas and reminders about the projects, initiatives and needs that District 9 residents have shared.
Zadeh said she’s “trying to get all the information organized so nothing falls through the cracks” once she’s officially on the job in July. Feedback has indicated that development and transportation are among top concerns in the district, she said.
“The district is pretty much built out, so most development is redevelopment,” said Zadeh, 47, a certified city planner and former chair of the Fort Worth Zoning Commission. “So where there is redevelopment going on, I want to make sure that happens in a thoughtful and sustainable way and we have development that is appropriate and that the neighbors and others in the community have a say in.”
Regarding transportation, Zadeh said she’s “hearing from those who are seeking to have opportunities to get from here to there without getting in the car.”
However, “The main thing is citizen involvement. During the campaign we saw some neighborhoods get energized and excited,” she said. “We want to keep that going and get the neighborhoods plugged in as part of the process.”
The runoff’s low voter turnout was “not something I was expecting,” said Zadeh, who has “always been a voter.”
According to the unofficial report of the Tarrant County Elections Department, 8.39 percent of the district’s 36,181 registered voters cast ballots. Zadeh received 53.86 percent or 1,633 votes, including 586 in early voting, and 1,047 cast on Saturday. Lasater received 46.14 percent or 1,399 votes, including 632 in early voting, and 767 on Saturday. The City Council is scheduled to meet on June 30 to canvass the vote, deeming the results official.
Saturday’s voter turnout percentage was slightly lower than the 9.09 percent of 35,960 then-registered voters who participated in the May 10 election when Zadeh and Lasater were among the six candidates. Zadeh received the most votes with 31.29 percent, and Lasater was second with 24.01 percent, moving them into Saturday’s runoff.
“Voters turn out more for the big elections,” Zadeh said. “But I’ve always said your vote can make a bigger difference locally because those you elect locally impact your daily life in your community. So it was eye-opening to see that not everyone feels that way.”
In an interview Monday, Lasater said turnout was “a little bit off” for his campaign, but “I’m very happy with what we did.” On Saturday night, “We were with friends and people who worked with me and they were more down than I was. I spent most of the evening trying to cheer them up,” said the 44-year-old attorney who works in the family’s business. He previously was a Tarrant County assistant district attorney and before that practiced municipal law.
His supporters “worked very, very hard,” he said, and he encouraged them “to reach out to the winner and offer support and hope for success. That’s how to get things done.”
“I’m going to stay positive and think about how we can get involved,” he said, but has ruled out another run for political office.