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AISD's Empty Ballot

Still a logjam, still no declared candidates

By Richard Whittaker, 9:35AM, Thu. Aug. 7

Broken democracy: If no one files in Austin ISD District 2, then incumbent Vince Torres (who has announced that he will not run again) will have to stay on the board.
Broken democracy: If no one files in Austin ISD District 2, then incumbent Vince Torres (who has announced that he will not run again) will have to stay on the board.
Photo by John Anderson

So does no one realize there's an Austin ISD election this November?

Five of the district's nine seats are on the Nov. 4 ballot: Last week, there were two filed candidates: Incumbent Robert Schneider had filed for his fourth term representing District 7, while next door in District 6 former Austin Council of PTAs president Monica Sanchez has filed to replace outgoing incumbent Lori Moya, who is stepping down.

A week later and, well, there are still only those two candidates. Plus AMD creative director and district Boundary Advisory Committee member Yasmin Wag­ner has designated a treasurer, and looks set to challenge Schneider, but has yet to finish the filing process.

That all means there is still no declared candidate to replace Cheryl Bradley in District 1, Vince Torres in District 4 (both of whom are stepping down) or At-Large trustee Tamala Barksdale, who has yet to make any firm comment on her electoral future.

There are candidates lined up, but the line is complex: If Barksdale declines to run again, she seems likely to find a rumored replacement (let's call them Candidate A) coming out of District 1. If she does run, then it seems that Candidate A will run in District 1 instead. Residents of North-East Austin should not panic: There is at least one other candidate (Candidate B) lined up but, and here's where it gets tricky, suggestions are that Candidate B will not run against Candidate A. Neither is talking publicly about running, because they don't want to preempt anyone else's announcement, and commit to a seat for which they may not end up running.

So everyone is sat on their hands until Barksdale makes an announcement. She told the Chronicle that she planned to make a decision within the week, and that was over a week ago. Now the expectation is that she will make a final decision early next week. That's also when local PR consultant Paul Saldana, who has said that he is considering a run, will make a firm statement. Like Barksdale, he was due to make an announcement by today, but he is out of town for a few days. Meanwhile, Schneider's second announced opponent, former teacher-turned-Realtor Theresa Bastian, has made no further forward motion.

All that still means no front runner to replace Torres. Again, there is a rumor of a candidate, but nothing confirmed. And the clock is ticking: Filing closes on Aug. 18, so there is less than two weeks to go. However. AISD director of intergovernmental affairs Edna Butts said she is hopeful there will be more candidates filing in short order in all races, at least by the beginning of next week.

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