Several times a month, city council member Chad West sends members of the media an email list of upcoming city council agenda items he finds of interest. This morning, as I was peeling my eyes open for the day and urging my brain to start working while scrolling through emails, I was roused from bed and filled with elation to see in West’s email that today’s city council briefing would not be any old meeting.

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Today was the Annual Dallas City Council Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest.

The Advocate is not aware of whether the city council awards an actual winner in this contest, or if there is a prize associated, so we decided to take it upon ourselves to judge it ourselves and share our opinions with our loyal readers.

But before we name a winner, we have a few shoutouts.

Least Festive: Mayor Eric Johnson 

The Mayor did not even try to dress up for the holiday season. And sure, maybe there is something to be said for maintaining professionalism as the council’s leader.

But there is also something to be said for having a good and silly time.

Mayor Johnson has shown in recent months he has no problem experimenting with his clothing, but I will rest here. Dissecting the Mayor’s wardrobe is a beat best left to Tim Rogers.

Nerdiest Sweater: Omar Narvaez, District 6

Council member Narvaez came prepared. He came in the spirit. He came saying “I see your classic red and green sweaters covered in traditional Christmas motif and I raise you this.”

Narvaez is a fun guy, and nothing makes that more clear than an “Ewok’n around the Christmas tree” sweater complete with an Ewok plush accessory placed in a position of prominence on the horseshoe table.

The only thing holding Narvaez back from winning it all is that this was an ugly Christmas sweater competition, and everyone knows that Ewoks are so ugly they’re cute.

Unsung Heroes: Speakers and City Staff in theme

Seeing as this was a competition between City Council members we can’t just award the ugly Christmas sweater prize to a non-council member, but we felt a nod was owed to city staff members who joined in the festive spirit.

Look at the woman sitting behind Chad West. Look at the tinsel wrapped around her arms. That is Commitment. That is Cheer.  That is what the holidays are all about.

Most Topical Sweaters: Cara Mendelsohn, District 12 and Chad West, District 1

At first, we thought council member Mendelsohn had this one in the bag with her “SAD NEWS: Santa and District 12 got run over by a DART Silver line train” sweater. Surely it’s a custom design.

Mendelsohn has been outspoken of her distaste for the impact a new transit line may have on the quality of life of district residents, and she would have had this award clinched IF she hadn’t changed into “professional attire” during the lunch recess. Which is no fun. 

So we are giving the award to both Mendelsohn and council member West, whose skateboarding Santa sweater is showing his support for a new skate park in Oak Cliff. Both council members wore their sweaters for half the day, so they each get half the award. That’s just how it goes.

Admittedly, I wasn’t impressed with West’s sweater at first. When he was sitting it just looked like a happy Santa, but then I saw West’s tweeted photo where he is standing, and could clearly see Santa shredding.

Best Overall: Gay Donnell Willis, District 13

For years I have felt that we as a society have lost what it means to wear an ugly Christmas sweater.

Nowadays, people flock to the craft store or Dollar Tree to stock up on every obviously ugly tchotchke that can be hot glued to a cheap sweater that’ll be thrown away after a season.

And that is not in the true spirit of ugly Christmas sweater competitions!

Ugly Christmas sweaters should be tacky in the coziest, most nostalgic way possible. They should leave you wondering if the wearer actually thinks the garment is cute. They should be tucked away with care at the end of each holiday season covered in moth balls to preserve their charm.

Which brings me to council member Willis’ sweater.

Her sweater reminds me of what my first-grade teacher would have worn to the class holiday party the day before winter break. When I look at her sweater, I start thinking about all of the Walmart sugar cookie and candy canes I likely consumed at said class holiday party and I get a stomach ache.

A Christmas tree was not enough for Willis. Nay, she wanted a nutcracker too. Her sweater looks well crafted. It has a dozen colors on it. It’s telling a story.

And for that, the Advocate names Council member Willis champion of the 2023 Dallas City Council Ugly Christmas Sweater Competition.