Guzman Kicks Off AISD Campaign

Local businessman formally declares candidacy for Austin ISD board of trustees

On Tuesday morning, on a street corner beside Johnston High School, local businessman Sam Guzman formally declared his candidacy for the AISD board of trustees, in the special election for District 2 to be held May 12. Guzman called education a "fundamental right for each and every child" and said the district must find a way to extend the best possible education to all children in the district, as well as closing the "achievement gap" between majority and minority students. Making his announcement outside one of AISD's troubled Eastside schools – Johnston is in the midst of a redesign program to improve student performance – Guzman called attention to the precarious state of "accountability" under the state and federal systems, in which "we may lose control of our own schools." Guzman said that while he would not "point fingers or play the blame game," he believes that the accountability burden now falls too heavily on teachers and students and too little on the test-driven curriculum designed to provide data for administrators and government.

Guzman is a real estate investor and mortgage loan officer, a former president of the Texas Association of Mexican-American Chambers of Commerce, and has a long record of public service, including citizen committee work with AISD. He was introduced by former state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos and former AISD board President and Mayor Gus Garcia; among the supporters attending the announcement were former Travis Co. Commissioner Richard Moya, Eastside activist Lori Renteria, and Peggy Vasquez of La Prensa. Barrientos described the election as being about "the most important things in our society – education and our children." Garcia noted that District 2 might have more low-performing schools than any other in the district and that Guzman would bring "experience and knowledge and dedication to children" and the board.

The special election is to replace Rudy Montoya Jr., who is resigning, although he agreed to stay on until May after the board decided to hold an election instead of appointing an interim member. The other candidates are Fred L. McGhee, an applied anthropologist who owns a business addressing cultural preservation and community development; Gerald Guerra, an accountant who has served on the district's bond oversight committee; and Gary Johnson, an investor and the Libertarian host of the public-access TV show Smash the State.

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Austin ISD board of trustees, Sam Guzman, Gerald Guerra, Fred L. McGhee, Gary Johnson, Gonzalo Barrientos, Gus Garcia

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