More Endorsements: ACC Trustees

Williams in Place 1, dual endorsement in Place 2

With early voting looming (Oct. 20-31), we're supplementing the Chronicle editorial board endorsements in the Oct. 17 issue with a few more, as they become available. The following are our recommendations for Austin Community College board of trustees, Places 1 and 2.

Mark J. Williams (Photo by John Anderson)

Austin Community College Place 1: Mark Williams

In a two-horse race, it's usually easy to pick a winner. But between incumbent Tim Mahoney and his challenger, former Austin ISD board president Mark Williams, we nearly reached an impasse. Mahoney has been a powerful advocate for both staff and students, strong on labor rights, and prepared to take on the administration and its intentions for the fast-growing but sometimes ill-managed district. But on more than one occasion, his challenges have become Quixotic windmill-tilting. Even Mahoney’s allies say he’s hard to work with – so that even when he’s right, he’s often ineffective. Williams, on the other hand, was rightly criticized for giving the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce too much say over AISD matters, and letting former Superintendent Meria Carstarphen run roughshod over public engagement. But ACC is not a public school district – a core college purpose is workforce development – and a close connection to the business community may be exactly what is needed for this post. Both men are knowledgable and committed to education, and with only two candidates, a “no endorsement” seems feckless and ill-advised. We applaud Mahoney for his service, and recommend a vote for Williams.

Gigi Edwards Bryant (l) and Jade Chang Sheppard

Austin Community College Place 2 (Dual Endorsement): Jade Chang Sheppard/Gigi Edwards Bryant

Among six candidates, two have emerged as the most serious and viable. Bryant is a long-time member of ACC's superstructure, serving on its Foundation board, and has a clear institutional advantage. There is no learning curve for Bryant, and she already has clear ideas about specific programs that could be revamped to help students and staff; she would even be able to remain on the fundraising Foundation board. By contrast, contractor and workforce training advocate Chang Sheppard has exactly the fresh eyes that the district needs, especially as it moves forward with years of expensive construction, which is her professional territory. That a member of the business community has swept the labor endorsements is very telling, and Chang Sheppard promises to hold the college’s infrastructure projects to high construction and labor standards. Both candidates are ACC alumni, and have specific visions of how to integrate ACC into the region's education network; either provides a strong option for the voters, and for ACC.

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November 2014 Election, State, Austin Community College

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