Tuesday was a huge night for Education Austin, the Austin Independent School District employees' union, as three of its four endorsed candidates were victorious.
The biggest win on the EA slate was undoubtedly Gina Hinojosa, the civil rights lawyer who defeated Mary Ellen Pietruszynski by more than 50,000 votes to take the at-large place 8 seat with 69%. Sooch Foundation Executive Director Pietruszynski had received big cash injections from her boss, Nav Sooch, and his co-founders of Silicon Labs, but she apparently could not defeat the perception that she would simply rubber-stamp proposals from embattled Superintendent Meria Carstarphen.
In District 2 (Southeast), at the other end of the victory scale, Jayme Mathias squeaked a 104-vote win over incumbent Sam Guzmán, heavily identified with the district's decision to install the IDEA charter school at Allan Elementary and the Eastside vertical team. Mathias led in early voting by 5%, and his campaign staff worried until late in the evening that the race remained too close to call. Guzmán's campaign was late to start but flooded East Austin with paid canvassers all weekend – finally to no avail.
Predictably in District 3 (North), retired teacher Ann Teich defeated incumbent Christine Brister, who had suspended her campaign but not given a definitive answer about whether she would serve or not if elected. Also predictably, former PTA Council chair Amber Elenz (the only victor EA hadn't endorsed) – defeated businessman and peace activist Charlie Jackson in a Place 5 (Central and West) race that had become increasingly bitter in its closing days.
At the EA watch party at El Gallo, union President Ken Zarifis said the evening marked a sea change for the district. Now the next fight begins as the transformed board – to be sworn in on Nov. 19 – selects a replacement for outgoing board President Mark Williams. With Williams, Guzmán, and Brister gone, and the incoming Elenz a potential swing vote on many issues, the new board could take a much tighter grip on Carstarphen's reins.
AISD Trustee, District 2
Jayme Mathias: 5,734 (50.5%)
Sam Guzmán*: 5,630 (49.5%)
AISD Trustee, District 3
Ann E. Teich: 7,165 (64.6%)
Christine V. Brister*: 3,924 (35.4%)
AISD Trustee, District 5
Amber Elenz: 13,687 (62.6%)
Charlie Jackson: 8,195 (37.5%)
AISD Trustee, At-Large Position 8
Gina Hinojosa: 93,080 (69.0%)
Mary Ellen Pietruszynski: 41,819 (31.0%)
* denotes incumbent; boldface denotes winner.
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