June 12 run-off election – early voting June 1-8
Austin Independent School District
Position 9 (At-Large): Tamala Barksdale
Going into the May 8 election, we wrote that Tamala Barksdale and Julie Cowan made the strongest arguments of the five candidates vying for a seat on the board. So it's no surprise to see their names on the ballot in this final round. But we believe Barksdale is the best "big-picture" candidate for a board grappling with a raft of administrative and academic challenges, including the looming threat of state-ordered closures of two low-performing schools. Drawing on her experience as a parent of a magnet school student, Barksdale, a public relations executive, is prepared to address inequities in the district and is committed to public outreach on matters ranging from social issues to relationship-building with AISD employees and local government entities. Like Barksdale, Cowan is an AISD parent with deep roots in district affairs. Her active record covers multiple PTA positions, literacy efforts, and a co-leadership post on the 2008 bond advisory task force – knowledge and experience that would serve the board well. Nonetheless, our vote goes to Barksdale for this at-large seat, and we urge readers to cast a vote in her favor as well.
Austin Community College
Place 5 (At-Large): Vic Villarreal
Voters in the Austin Community College taxing district should count themselves fortunate – this run-off features two very strong candidates in Vic Villarreal and David Reiter. We give a slight edge to Villarreal; the ACC management professor and former Leander mayor pro tem offers both teaching and municipal government experience. The government background would fill an experience void created when Raul Alvarez left the board last year. He clearly understands the vital role ACC plays in our community – with 41,000 students and growing, its enrollment is almost as large as that other college in town – and we support his drive to keep tuition low. Worth noting: The ACC teachers' union also endorsed Villarreal, which we hope is a sign of better prospective relations between the faculty and the board. However, we won't be disappointed if Reiter wins. The biotech company vice president is pushing to make sure ACC doesn't overspend as it inevitably expands, a message we fully support. But on balance, we think Villarreal's blend of hands-on experience in community college teaching and setting policy makes him the best candidate.