One of the most hotly contested municipal races on Saturday is for Dallas City Council District 13.
Incumbent Jennifer Staubach Gates is facing off against former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller. Voter turnout in District 13 for early voting was about the same as five southern Dallas districts combined, all driven by controversial issues and high name recognition.
“You've got a lot of visibility and personality,” said SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson.
The intensity of the race can be seen by the many signs peppered around the North Dallas district that seems to be evenly split. both miller and gates think the more than 8,000 votes cast during early voting is a good omen for them.
“We don't have the voter apathy the rest of Dallas does,” Gates said.
Miller said voters in the district “know what is at stake.”
“I think people are engaged, understand the issues,” Miller said.
This is the first time Gates has had an opponent since she was elected. Miller has been an outspoken critic of dense development proposed for Preston Center.
“A three-story building that burned in Preston Center is about to be replaced by two 24-story towers. Which the neighbors don't want,” Miller said.
Gates said she supports the process and the race is about a lot more, like the tax rate and reducing crime.
“I'm pleased to have the support of the first responders, public safety is what everyone is concerned about,” Gates said.
Jillson says the heavy voter turnout in North Dallas will likely impact the race for mayor.
Three of the nine candidates for mayor are residents of District 13 -- Dallas developer Mike Ablon, former state representative Jason Villalba and Dallas lawyer Regina Montoya.
“Mayoral candidates supported by the people in that district have advantage because turnout is higher,” Jillson said.
But he warns it is still anyone's guess what will happen come election day.
“I think Eric Johnson is really the wild card here, he is a black Texas House member from the southern sector, that much of the downtown business community has rolled in behind,” Johnson said.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday. Election results will be posted on Fox4News.com and covered on Saturday’s FOX4 News at 9.