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More on the HISD candidates

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.

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2 Comments

  1. I’ve known Adrian Collins for a dozen years, and he’s a great guy. In 1990, he was in the Army and was training to go into intelligence; after the first Gulf War, he was honorably discharged due to the downsizing that immediately followed. When I met him, he was district director for Rep. Scott Hochberg, though I believe he started in a junior position on Senator Ellis’s staff. Later, he was Special Assistant to the President of Prairie View A&M during a period when the University obtained major increases in its funding. During that time, he was faculty advisor to the campus NAACP, and I coordinated with him in getting busloads of college students down to Houston for the Lee Brown mayoral runoff in 2001. Since then he has been Senator Ellis’s district director, which doesn’t even begin to describe his responsibilities, since during the session he was often in Austin doing double duty as a key member of the Senator’s legislative staff. In the summer of 2008, he called me saying he wanted more than anything else to work on the Obama presidential campaign, and I was able to put him in touch with a friend who was a leader of one of the advance teams. They gave Adrian a two-week “tryout,” after which they snapped him up and put him in charge of his own team. At the inauguration, Adrian was put in charge of the first event of the day: the prayer service for the President, the Cabinet members and their families. Since then he has accompanied the President of several overseas trips to Turkey, Africa and France. Adrian has a beautiful young family. His wife, Lena, is a teacher, and they have two adorable sons. I have hoped that Adrian would run for office long before now. He is straight arrow in the best sense of that phrase: honest, hard-working and true. If you look at all the responsibilities people have placed on him, you will see someone who has always come through, whether it’s organizing the logistics of a presidential trip or making sure that the President of Prairie View and the Legislature were communicating about the needs of the University and the ability of the Legislature to proved funding in what was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the University. In a word, Adrian is reliable. You can give him anything to do that needs doing and count on it getting done.

  2. Jesse Alred says:

    Ericka Mellon’s school zone blog lists the largest contributors to candidates in three contested Houston school board campaigns.

    Businessmen who promote charter schools are the largest contributors to the campaigns of Mike Lunceford and Anna Eastman, candidates, respectively, for west and north district seats.

    Charter schools already have strong supporters holding two of HISD’s nine seats. Harvin Moore IV was a founding board member and long-time treasurer of KIPP charter schools. Corporate spokesperson Paula Harris won her seat with the financial backing of Leo Linbeck III, who is chief planner for KIPP’s effort to recruit 10,000 of HISD’s current students.

    Houston business leaders, and philanthropies linked to them, have committed $100 million to the growth plans of KIPP and YES Prep charter schools. They clearly have an agenda developed privately for schools managed publicly.

    The nature of Eastman’s and Lunceford’s financial coalition raises questions about who they will represent if they gain seats on the school board.

    In the northside campaign, the charter-proponents seem to be playing a little bit of trickery. Linbeck is supporting Linda Toyota, while Natasha Kamrani, wife of YES Prep founder, Chris Barbic, is backing Anna Eastman. Eastman is also supported by an associate of John Arnold, one of KIPP’s biggest supporters.

    What charter-sponsors seem to be doing is trying to force a runoff, hoping the Hispanic vote will be lower on the runoff date. Groups with lower turnout tend to vote even less in runoffs, when fewer candidates are on the ballot and there is less publicity.