AISD Board Races Show Signs of Life

A sudden influx of candidates

Tamala Barksdale opts out of re-election run.
Tamala Barksdale opts out of re-election run. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

A week ago, education advocates were nervous about Austin ISD. With five trustee seats up for re-election on Nov. 4, there were only two filed candidates. This week, with the filing deadline approaching, there was a deluge of filings and announcements, with at least three competitive races set for the fall.

The trigger for the new arrivals was the exit of an incumbent. On Aug. 11, At-Large Trus­tee Tamala Barksdale confirmed rumors that she will not seek re-election. While she described her one-term tenure on the board as "delightful," and praised her fellow trustees, she said, "I have decided that the best course of action is to step aside."

This means four of the five seats up for re-election are vacant, as Barksdale joins fellow retirees Cheryl Bradley (District 1), board president Vince Torres(District 4), and Lori Moya (District 6). However, a line has now formed to replace them.

The first name came from Barksdale herself, when she said she'll endorse Kazique Jelani Prince, CEO of Jelani Con­sult­ing, to replace her. However, he already faces a competitive race: Kendall Pace, a management consultant with Smart Flour Foods, currently serves as a member of the District Advisory Council, and will probably have the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce in her corner, since she serves on its Education and Talent Development Council.

There is also a competitive race in District 4: Austin Council of PTAs officer Julie Cowan, who came second to Barksdale in an often bitter five-way fight for the At-Large seat four years ago, now seeks to replace Torres representing Northwest Austin. She will face Karen Flanagan, who, as part of the Travis County Taxpayers Union, opposed the district's 2013 bond package, and then was appointed by Trustee Ann Teich to serve on the Community Bond Oversight Committee.

District 4 is one of the two more conservative-leaning seats in AISD. The other, District 7 in the southwest, provides the third competitive race. Incumbent Robert Schneider was the first candidate to file, seeking his fourth term, but former Gorzycki Middle School PTA president Theresa Bastianand AISD Bound­ary Advisory Com­mit­tee member Yasmin Wagner are both formally running.

Next door in District 6, former Austin Coun­cil of PTAs president Monica Sanchez has filed, and PR consultant Paul Saldaña is expected to announce whether he will run this week.

The latest declared candidate is for Bradley's District 1 seat, as UT professor Edmund T. Gordon announced he intends to run. Before Barksdale's exit, Prince had considered fighting for that seat. With his decision to go at-large, Gordon, chair of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department, has stepped into the void. However, there is still time for other names to emerge, as filing stays open through Monday, Aug. 18.

AISD: Refilling the School Board
AISD: Refilling the School Board
Candidates jockey to fill Saldaña's seat

Richard Whittaker, May 19, 2017

AISD’s FABulous Facility Plan
AISD’s FABulous Facility Plan
The Facilities and Bond Planning Advisory Committee has a few recommendations to consider

Richard Whittaker, March 31, 2017

More 2014 Election
Boards & Commissions Mix-and-Match
Boards & Commissions Mix-and-Match
The city tries to consolidate its committees

Chase Hoffberger, Aug. 1, 2014

The Road to 10-1: Now We Begin
The Road to 10-1: Now We Begin
How to fit six dozen candidates into a one-pound newspaper

Michael King, July 18, 2014

More by Richard Whittaker
Drafthouse <i>Wonder Woman</i> Screenings Bring Out the Trolls
Drafthouse Wonder Woman Screenings Bring Out the Trolls
All-female screenings to expand nationwide

May 25, 2017

Numbers Don't Lie, Film Rebates Work
Numbers Don't Lie, Film Rebates Work
Which films and TV shows quit Austin over lack of rebates?

May 25, 2017


AISD, 2014 Election, Austin Independent School District, Tamala Barksdale, Cheryl Bradley, Vince Torres, Lori Moya, Kazique Jelani Prince, Kendall Pace, Julie Cowan, Karen Flanagan, Travis County Taxpayers Union, Ann Teich, Robert Schneider, Theresa Bastian, Yasmin Wagner, Monica Sanchez, Paul Saldaña, Edmund T. Gordon, AISD Board of Trustees

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)