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Austin ISD: Cowan Returns to Ballot

2010 at-large loser aiming for 2014 win in District 4

By Richard Whittaker, 6:20PM, Mon. Aug. 11

Julie Cowan: lost her Austin ISD race in 2010, but now swapping a tough at-large campaign for the geographically distinct demands of District 4 in 2014
Julie Cowan: lost her Austin ISD race in 2010, but now swapping a tough at-large campaign for the geographically distinct demands of District 4 in 2014
Photo by Jana Birchum

2010: Tamala Barskdale beats Julie Cowan to become Austin ISD's Place 9 At-Large Trustee.

2014: Barksdale announces she is stepping down this fall, and Cowan announces she will run again – this time, in District 4, to replace retiring board president Vince Torres.

Cowan's entry into the race came mere minutes before Barksdale started calling her fellow trustees and the media to announce her decision that she will not seek a second term.

Cowan has a long track record in the district, having served as PTA president at Doss Elemen­tary, Murchison Middle School, and Anderson High, plus districtwide seats on the 2008 bond advisory committee, the budget task force, and the English-Language Arts Textbook Adoption Committee. She currently is an officer of the Austin Council of PTAs, which would make her the second officer of that body on the ballot (former president Monica Sanchez has filed to replace outgoing District 6 trustee Lori Moya). Outside of AISD, she has served as president for the Travis County Medical Alliance and co-chair of the St. David’s Foundation Alliance.

Back in 2010, Barksdale and Cowan went through a tough race, including a run-off after an inconclusive first round with a total of five candidates. Barksdale eventually won in a midsummer rematch that saw an unusual increase in turnout over the first round. However, that campaign became increasingly bitter in its closing days, with Cowan accusing Barksdale of only picking up endorsements because she is a Democrat. With an at-large electorate, being seen as a Republican backfired on Cowan. However, in Republican-leaning Northwest Austin, being pro-public ed with conservative leanings could be a powerful combination.

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