The Bellaire Examiner looks at the contested HISD Trustee races, two of which weren’t hadn’t been contested before the day of the filing deadline.
HISD Board President Lawrence Marshall appeared to be one of three incumbent trustees unopposed in the upcoming board election. Instead, three last-minute entries will make Marshall’s attempt to retain his District IX seat more difficult than he expected.
George Davis, Adrian Collins and Michael Williams filed for candidacy Wednesday, the last day for election filing.
Marshall, who has been at the center of the superintendent transition and who has recently been target of some internal board unrest, expected late challengers.
“It’s amazing how certain communities of interest work,” said Marshall. “Some communities of interest see incumbency as an asset, that it represents leadership that they don’t want to replace. Other communities sometimes respond differently.”
“I run year-round,” added Marshall. “That’s the way I’ve been doing it for twelve years. I wasn’t worried about any element of surprise, because we’ve already geared up our campaign.”
Davis has received backing from the advocacy group HISD Parent Visionaries. Davis, who oversees business programs for continuing education at Houston Community College, is a Lanier High School graduate who has extensive experience with Workforce Solutions.
“I just think it’s time for a new generation of leadership,” said Davis. “People have shared with me their desire for a need for new leadership and a fresh perspective.”
Collins, a community liaison for State Sen. Rodney Ellis, has also been a consultant to the White House and President Barack Obama on community and education issues.
“Over the last decade we have seen a decline in the quality of education the students of District IX have received compared to other parts of the districts,” Collins wrote in a prepared statement.
Williams, a 1980 graduate of Worthing High School, is a businessman in auto sales. Williams has a fourth-grader in private school, though he has been a member of the Worthing PTO.
“There’s no school in our area I can think of sending my kids to,” said Williams, who is a resident of Sunnyside.
“As of late we haven’t seen any changes in our area.” said Williams. “Money seems to come up missing in our area and nobody can tell us where it is. I just think it’s time for a change.”
That’s some pretty serious competition for Marshall, who has certainly drawn the ire of the HISD Parent Visionaries group. Marshall is no stranger to tough races – he was forced into a runoff in 2005, and won a runoff in 1997 after finishing second on Election Day. In other words, don’t count him out. Just so we’re clear, I’m a member of the HISD Visionaries group, though all I’ve done is receive their messages. (I don’t remember who invited me to join the group, for what it’s worth.) I don’t know George Davis, but I do know Adrian Collins.
Moving over to the open District V race, in which Mike Lunceford picked up an opponent, Ray Reiner:
The race between Lunceford and Reiner represents a surprising and intriguing challenge. Lunceford submitted his candidate paperwork with the district immediately when the filing period opened; Reiner declared his candidacy Wednesday.
Reiner, highly regarded for his 40-year tenure as an administrator with the district, retired in 2005 and has remained active in various consultancy and mediation roles. Reiner was mentioned by various HISD sources when the school board began the search to replace former superintendent Dr. Abelardo Saavedra.
“I look at this as a really golden opportunity to come back into communities and help students, help parents, and help their communities,” said Reiner. “Over the last four or five years there’s been a lack of sensitivity in various communities within the larger community itself. I think I can not only address those concerns but also be an advocate for change.”
“I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve,” added Reiner.
Lunceford, a petroleum engineer, has had longtime committee involvement in District V under former trustee Don McAdams, and has served on HISD bond committees. Lunceford has drawn praise from Johnson and his candidacy has been backed by various HISD parent groups.
“Everybody’s been very supportive,” said Lunceford. “It’s a very interesting time with a new superintendent coming in, with the views that he has.”
Lunceford added: “If you look at the history of District V, people who run for the board or become trustees rarely have any aspirations of higher office, and that’s kind of what I’ve focused on. I have no further aspirations after this—my goal is to get our schools going.”
According to HISD Parent Visionaries founder Mary Nesbitt, that group is supporting Davis, Lunceford, and Anna Eastman in District I. Should be interesting to see what kind of an effect they can have, especially in what may be a low-turnout election. I will have interviews from all three District I candidates on the blog the week after Labor Day.