Fort Worth, Texas – Each of the five people running for mayor has had a background check done, which included looking at both local and national court records for criminal and civil cases.
It was discovered that three of the five candidates have been involved in legal proceedings since 2008. James Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University, commented that although having a criminal or civil history may put the candidate at a disadvantage, it doesn’t necessarily doom a candidate, as it depends on how the candidate responds to it.
The mayor is one of the most powerful positions in the Fort Worth government, responsible for leading the City Council and charting priorities for city departments. The three candidates with legal proceedings are Jennifer Castillo, Adrian Smith, and Alyson Kennedy.
Jennifer Castillo was alleged to have been verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive by her ex-husband, who secured a temporary restraining order against her in California in 2018. Thomas Guastaferro, a senior strategist with McShane LLC, who is working on Castillo’s campaign, called the allegations in the restraining order false. Castillo is running on three issues — property taxes, affordable housing, and entrepreneurship. She founded a real estate company, Money Hause, and a mortgage-focused counterpart, Money Inc.
Adrian Smith was previously convicted of resisting arrest in Fort Worth in 2008, and assessed a $200 fine and probation for a year. Smith appealed the decision to the Eighth District Court of Appeals in El Paso in 2013, which upheld his conviction, a Class A misdemeanor. If elected, one of his priorities will be getting city spending under control. He pointed to the new City Hall project as an example of wasteful spending.
Alyson Kennedy filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2013 with over $41,000 in debts. The largest debt claim against her was $6,943, from Asset Acceptance LLC, a debt buyer, and collection agency that had taken on her debts to Citibank.
Riddlesperger suggested that having a criminal or civil history doesn’t necessarily doom a candidate, as it depends on how the candidate reacts to it. He emphasized that if a candidate can explain their criminal record in a compelling way, it might mitigate the impact on an election.