'Chronicle' Endorsements

May 8 AISD and ACC boards of trustees elections

'Chronicle' Endorsements

On May 8, Austin voters return to the polls for school board and Austin Community College board of trustees races. The Editorial Board has considered the contested races and makes the following recommendations to Chronicle readers, along with notes on a couple of uncontested races. Early voting runs from Monday, April 26, through Tuesday, May 4; please take the time to consider the candidates and vote.

Austin Independent School District

District 6 (South): Lori Moya

Pinning Moya down on a position can be tough, and she sometimes puts structure before policy, but her work on the board has been diligent and has the potential to grow in depth over time. Her tenure thus far can unfortunately be summed up by her bizarre reversal of position on declaring "financial exigency" on the basis of parliamentary procedure. On the other hand, her challenger, security guard Glen P. Mayes II, is an active tea-partier and charter school advocate with no educational experience other than coaching and little visible interest in sustaining the public schools beyond advocating vocational training and "more choice." So while Moya's unwillingness to rock the boat may leave the district a bit rudderless, better that than Mayes idly attempting to capsize it.

District 7 (Southwest): Robert Schneider

Considering that many board candidates polish their election résumés with decades-old teaching experience, having a real district teacher and educator like Warren Faulkner serving as a trustee could be a real boon, although his candidacy appears motivated in part on simmering discontent over Southwest school boundary disputes. Meanwhile, Schnei­der's tenure has often been frustrating, and many observers regard him as too often disconnected from affairs beyond the boundaries of his district. However, with a major budget argument ahead and the threat of more arbitrary Texas Education Agency managerial intervention on campuses in the name of "repurposing," Schneider's considerable experience may be invaluable in at least kick-starting the discussion of the district's future. On balance, we recommend returning him to the board, in the hope that his practical experience will make a useful difference in difficult budgetary and political times.

Position 9 (At-Large): Tamala Barksdale

This is the toughest call of the contested races, and with five candidates in all, it seems likely we'll be revisiting this contest for a run-off. Tamala Barksdale, Julie Cowan, and Dianne T. Mendoza all have credible qualifications, but on the bases of specific experience, school engagement, and considered visions for the future of the district, we believe Cowan and Barksdale have made the strongest arguments for a seat on the board. Cowan has raised three AISD students and has devoted many years of dedicated volunteerism to school engagement and district planning (e.g., multiple PTA posts and tri-chair on the 2008 bond advisory task force); she says she wants to extend the education her children received to all district students and to re-engage the Legislature on statewide funding inequities. After difficult consideration, our endorsement goes to public relations executive and parent activist Barksdale, on the strength of her passionate dedication to addressing the persistent structural inequities in the district (tangible from her experience as a magnet student parent); her conception that the at-large trusteeship should be both a catalyst and mediator on districtwide issues; her commitment to building relationships with the city, county, and other entities outside the district; and her campaign engagement with employee matters. Although she will likely need a crash course in the relentless twin district headaches – budgets and administration – Barks­dale's experience in public outreach on social issues will serve her well, and we believe her considerable energy will breathe new life into board initiatives.

District 1 (East): Cheryl Bradley

Two years ago, when she often seemed barely engaged in district business, it was sometimes hard to see why Bradley remained on the board. However, the battles over the repurposing of Eastside Memorial High and Pearce Middle School have apparently reignited her vigor, and she's become a powerful voice for community needs, especially on the Eastside. We hope she'll do the district and students a favor and maintain that engagement.

District 4 (West): Vince Torres

There's a major debate brewing on the balance of power and responsibilities between the board and the superintendent. In his first term, Torres has taken the role of the trustees seriously and has been pushing for a rebalancing of responsibilities between board and administration that will emphasize accountability with real teeth – if he succeeds, it could mean real progressive change over time.

Austin Community College

All trustees are elected at large.

Place 5: Vic Villarreal

Place 6: Guadalupe (Lupe) Sosa

Voters in the Austin Community Col­lege taxing district should count themselves fortunate – this year's two contested races feature several very strong candidates, with slates of good but consequently difficult choices.

While each candidate brings something unique to the table, all struck us as intelligent, thoughtful, and passionate about their community college, and they recognize the school's importance to our local culture and economy. While it may be casually considered the "other state college" in Austin, ACC's 41,000-student enrollment now rivals that of the Forty Acres. Even 26-year-old ACC student Davis Jones (who struck us as still a little too inexperienced for such a weighty position) impressed us sufficiently that his candidacy is a strong argument for a student seat on the ACC board.

That said, we gave a slight edge to Villarreal in Place 5 and to Sosa in Place 6 (incumbent Jeffrey Richard, in Place 4, is unopposed).

Several candidates wisely argue that ACC's proposed growth – several suburban communities are considering joining the taxing district – while important to the school's long-term financial stability and for those residents currently paying out-of-district tuition, must not come at the expense of existing campuses. Both David Reiter and Fred McGhee were thoughtful on this subject, and Reiter's business and legal experience as well as McGhee's scholarly and activist background could be useful assets on this and related issues. Of the Place 5 candidates, former Leander mayor pro tem and current ACC management professor Villarreal can also offer actual municipal government experience. As he notes, that background will fill an experience void created when former Austin City Council Member Raul Alvarez left the board, and it tipped the balance for our Place 5 recommendation.

In Place 6, retired from a long career in government service (as an accountant, auditor, and program manager), Sosa has been persistently active in the ACC trenches for a decade, starting with her successful push to get the South Austin campus built across the street from Crockett High School, a boon to that part of town and the local students. A former ACC student herself, Sosa also grasps in a personal way the perspectives of many of the college's current students, and her policy refrain has been that "students come first." While Sosa's opponents, Raymond Hartfield and Michael Perrine, have experience as educational advocates along with other good qualities, Sosa has, by her dedication to ACC over many years, earned a seat as a trustee, where she will be an effective advocate both for students and the wider Central Texas community.

Worth noting: The ACC teachers' union also endorsed these two candidates, hopefully a sign of better prospective relations between the faculty and the board.


The May 8 Ballot

AISD District 1

Cheryl Bradley

AISD District 4

Vince Torres

AISD District 6

Lori Moya

Glen P. Mayes II

AISD District 7

Robert Schneider

Warren Faulkner

AISD Position 9, At-Large

Tamala Barksdale

Julie Cowan

Dianne T. Mendoza

Cassandra Brown

Mike Reed

ACC Place 4

Jeffrey Richard

ACC Place 5

Vic Villarreal

David Reiter

Fred McGhee

Davis Jones

ACC Place 6

Guadalupe (Lupe) Sosa

Raymond Hartfield

Michael Perrine


Early Voting Info

Early Voting April 26-May 4

Election Day May 8

You may vote at any early voting location in the county in which you're registered. On election day, you must vote in your precincts. For a list of precinct locations: 238-VOTE or www.traviscountyelections.org.

Williamson County info: www.wilco.org/elections or 512/943-1630. Hays County info: www.elections.co.hays.tx.us or 512/393-7310.

EARLY VOTING LOCATIONS

Open Mon.-Sat., 7am-7pm, and Sun., noon-6pm, unless noted otherwise.

CENTRAL

Travis County Offices, 5501 Airport

Fiesta Mart, 3909 N. I-35

University of Texas, Flawn Academic Center Lobby, West Mall

Goodwill, 701 Newman (Mon.-Sat., 10am-7pm, Sun., noon-6pm)

SOUTH

Randalls, 2025 W. Ben White

H-E-B, 2400 S. Congress*

SOUTHEAST

Dan Ruiz Library, 1600 Grove (Mon.-Thu., 10am-7pm, Sat., 10am-5pm)

Fiesta Mart, 5510 S. I-35

SOUTHWEST

Randalls, 6600 MoPac S.

Randalls, 9911 Brodie

NORTH

Ben Hur Shriners Hall, 7811 Rockwood

MT Supermarket, 10901 N. Lamar, (Mon.-Fri., 10am-7pm)

NORTHEAST

County Tax Office, 15822 Foothill Farms Loop, Pflugerville

Goodwill Industries, 1015 Norwood Park Blvd. (Mon.-Fri., 8am-7pm, Sat., 9am-7pm, Sun., noon-6pm)

NORTHWEST

Randalls, 10900-D Research

H-E-B, 7301 FM 620 N.*

EAST

Parque Zaragoza Rec. Center, 2608 Gonzales (Mon.-Fri., 10am-7pm, Sat., 10am-5pm)

Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina (Mon.-Fri., 10am-6pm, Sat., 1-5pm)

WEST

Randalls, 3300 Bee Caves Rd., West Lake Hills

Randalls, 2301 RR 620 S., Lakeway

* temporary building in parking lot

MOBILE VOTING

MONDAY, APRIL 26

ACC Rio Grande, 1212 Rio Grande, 8am-7pm

Del Valle ISD Admin. Bldg., 5301 Ross, 8am-6pm

Stephen F. Austin Bldg., 1700 Congress, 8am-4pm

Manor ISD Admin. Bldg., 10335 Hwy. 290 E., 8-10am

Parsons House, 1130 Camino La Costa, noon-2pm

Heatherwilde Assisted Living, 401 S. Heatherwilde, Pflugerville, 4-6pm

TUESDAY, APRIL 27

ACC Riverside, 1020 Grove, 8am-7pm

Central Services Bldg., 1711 San Jacinto, 8am-6pm

Sam Houston Bldg., 201 E. 14th, 8am-6pm

Englewood Estates, 2603 Jones, 8-10am

Continental, 4604 S. Lamar, noon-2pm

Summit at Westlake Hills, 1034 Liberty Park, 4-6pm

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28

ACC South Austin, 1820 W. Stassney, 8am-7pm

Austin City Hall, 301 W. Second, first floor, 8am-6pm

Travis Bldg., 1701 Congress, 8am-6pm

Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon, 8am-noon

St. Edward's University, 3001 S. Congress, 2-6pm

THURSDAY, APRIL 29

ACC Eastview, 3401 Webberville Rd., 8am-7pm

ACC Pinnacle, 7748 Hwy. 290 W., 8am-7pm

RBJ Residential Tower, 21 Waller, 7:30-9:30am

Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH), 500 E. Seventh, 11am-1pm

Winters Bldg., 701 W. 51st, 4-6pm

Lakeside Senior Center, 85 Trinity, 3-5pm

FRIDAY, APRIL 30

ACC Northridge, 11928 Stonehollow, 8am-7pm

Bee Cave City Hall, 4000 Galleria Pkwy., 8am-6pm

Lago Vista City Hall, 5803 Thunderbird, 8am-6pm

LBJ Bldg., 111 E. 17th, 8am-6pm

SATURDAY, MAY 1

Bee Cave City Hall, 4000 Galleria Pkwy., 8am-6pm

Lago Vista City Hall, 5803 Thunderbird, 8am-6pm

Volente Vol. Fire Dept., 15406 FM 2769, 8am-6pm

Westminster Manor, 4100 Jackson, 11am-2pm

Heritage Pointe, 1950 Webberville Rd., 4-6pm

SUNDAY, MAY 2

Bee Cave City Hall, 4000 Galleria Pkwy., noon-6pm

Briarcliff Property Owner's Association, 22801 Briarcliff Dr., noon-6pm

Crystal Falls Golf Club, 3400 Crystal Falls, Leander, noon-6pm

Northwest Rural Community Ctr., 18649 FM 1431 Ste. 6A, Jonestown, noon-6pm

MONDAY, MAY 3

ACC Highland, 5930 Middle Fiskville, 8am-7pm

Bee Cave City Hall, 4000 Galleria Pkwy., 8am-6pm

Lago Vista City Hall, 5803 Thunderbird, 8am-6pm

Travis Co. Courthouse, 1000 Guadalupe, 8am-5pm

TUESDAY, MAY 4

Bee Cave City Hall, 4000 Galleria Pkwy., 8am-6pm

Deer Creek Elementary, 2420 Zeppelin, Cedar Park, 8am-6pm

Travis Co. Courthouse, 1000 Guadalupe, 8am-5pm

Lago Vista City Hall, 5803 Thunderbird, 8am-6pm

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin Independent School District, Austin Community College, Lori Moya, Robert Schneider, Tamala Barksdale, Cheryl Bradley, Vince Torres, Vic Villarreal, Guadalupe Sosa, elections

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