Though neither Democratic State Board of Education option for Travis County voters won, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said not all is necessarily lost. Instead, she said the big picture looks to be "a story of new faces and a potentially less-ideologically driven state board."
One of those new faces is District 10 Republican Tom Maynard of Williamson County, a moderate who took 56.6% of the vote, partly by limiting his deficit in Travis County. His opponent, Austin Democrat Judy Jennings, also remained upbeat despite her defeat. "I am really hoping that he will be a good standard-bearer for public education. I hope that he will stand up to some of the people leading his party who are fighting against public education," Jennings said.
Voters also returned right-winger Ken Mercer to the board with a 51% win over Rebecca Bell-Metereau in District 5, even though the Democrat piled up a 65%-27% margin in Travis County. Mercer ran on the slogan, "Faith, Family, Freedom" and promised to do away with the horrors of "rain forest math." Like Jennings, Bell-Metereau was making her second bid for the seat.
Miller said there were no big surprises in the SBOE results in an election year immediately following redistricting by a decidedly right-leaning Legislature. "The partisan composition of the electorate in each of these districts is pretty hard and fast," she said. "We're just hopeful that the new faces that are on the board – including Mr. Maynard – will align themselves with the moderate faction."
Miller said that while the 15-member board is still GOP-dominant, a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats have long struggled to hold the far-right faction at bay. "Tom Maynard is a question mark with respect to his ideological commitments; however, we're hopeful that he'll join with the other moderate Republicans, much in the same way his predecessor [Marsha Farney] did, to help ensure that things like accurate history and science textbooks are adopted in the next few years," said Miller. "We will see how this plays out in respect to teaching evolution in public schools in 2013."
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