Not much separates Fort Worth ISD’s District 5 incumbent CJ Evans from challenger Kevin Lynch – other than 14 percentage points. 

Both share similar campaign promises, and it’s minimal differences between the two that’s forced a runoff election set for June 10.  But, the way the two candidates may approach different neighborhoods in District 5 differs, as election results seem to show.

Lynch secured 45.46% of the 5,759 votes cast in District 5 and Evans 31.62%, in the May 6 election, according to Tarrant County Elections.  

Both Evans and Lynch have emphasized academic excellence and smarter budgeting.

“The question I’m most getting is, what is the difference between you and your opponent?,” Evans said. She said constituents have told her that Lynch’s platform is very much like hers.

Both agree that improving student outcomes would turn around the district’s declining enrollment. Both aim to push for a balanced budget, especially regarding the district’s growing deficit. 

And, in controversial state-wide issues, like book bans, Evans and Lynch say their focus should be on Fort Worth ISD.

But – their subtle differences aren’t lost on either candidate.

As she did in a Fort Worth Report elections forum on March 30, Evans consistently campaigned on the notion that her history in the district bolsters her credentials.

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“The difference is I have actually experienced doing the work, he has not,” Evans said. “I’ve been serving Fort Worth ISD longer than he’s even lived in Texas.” She noted her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic during the first-term, and how she actively listened to parents, and teachers, who were constantly struggling. 

Yet, Lynch leads Evans by 797 votes. Evans attributes his lead to him knowing a lot about “his little corner of Fort Worth,” or Tanglewood. 

Tanglewood is unlike other Fort Worth ISD areas. While the majority of Fort Worth ISD is low-income families and students of color, Tanglewood Elementary is 68% white and 16% low-income, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Many Tanglewood residents, specifically parents of students at Tanglewood Elementary, herald Lynch for his leadership ability. Parents have seen it first-hand over the years, they say, as Lynch has coached his five kids’ sports teams over the years, and founded the Paschal Panther Prep Football League in the Fall of 2022 for 600 Tanglewood-area youth. 

“He always puts the kids first, he treats them with great respect and treats all the parents with great respect,” Mellissa Morton, a Tanglewood Elementary parent said while with her fourth-grade son at Overton Park, surrounded by other Tanglewood moms. 

“We saw first-hand he wasn’t using his position as a coach to make network connections, he was just using it as a position to elevate the kids,” Morton said. 

Lynch himself understands that he embodies these leadership qualities other parents see in him.

“The thing that stands out for me is leadership. I’m a doer,” Lynch said.

Yet, if elected, Lynch plans on focusing on areas of need all around the district, he said. 

“Let’s focus on the things that are important, which are academic excellence, fiscal responsibility and community,” Lynch said. “You can only control what you can.”

On the other hand, in the Como neighborhood, just north of Tanglewood across the Chisholm Trail Parkway, there are some residents who are vocal about their support of Evans, who they say has always been reactive to district wants and needs. 

The Como Alumni Club, a nonprofit organization full of members who have graduated from Como schools, agreed. The club said that Evans has consistently reached out, trying to be responsive to their needs since she’s been elected, yet has never imposed her own values on Como residents or parents. 

“I love it when anybody reaches out to me for anything, truly I do,” Evans said, “But I do try to remember my role as trustee, never overstepping.”

The club has endorsed Evans once before, back in 2019, when she was elected to her first term. In 2019’s election, 4,334 votes were cast in the District 5 race, according to the Tarrant County Elections Department. Evans beat her opponent by 620 votes.

Ultimately, the results of 2023’s Fort Worth ISD’s District 5 runoff election could very much depend upon how many Tanglewood and Como residents get back out to the polls one final time this election season. 

In Como, Evans says residents have been implored to go vote.

“Having been at several of these neighborhood meetings, they consistently encouraged their residents to vote, no matter how small the election is,” Evans said.

And in Tanglewood, Morton believes parents she knows will return to the polls once more to fill the bubble next to Lynch’s name. 

“They [Tanglewood parents] love him here, they’ve basically campaigned to the ballot box for him,” Morton said.

Matthew Sgroi is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Matthew Sgroi

Matthew Sgroi

Matthew Sgroi is the 2022-23 Fort Worth Report multimedia fellow. He can be reached at or (503)-828-4063. Sgroi is a current senior at Texas Christian University, majoring...