Thursday, March 21, 2013

All Politics Is Local. Especially in School Board Elections

Well it’s March again and time to see who is running for school boards in my area. In Fort Bend ISD we have two positions up for grabs, two running for Position 3 and a whopping 4 candidates for Position 7. I really don’t know if one or both of these will heat up or not, but I sincerely hope so.
In Position 3 we have a new fresh face Vanesia R. Johnson running against incumbent Jim Rice. Johnson is a social worker concentrating on health, developmental disabilities, and disease prevention. She is presently working on a PhD on Public Policy and Administration.
I don’t know about you, but this seems to be a good fit in a school board that is devoid of anyone with any experience in special education. And from what people tell me, there is a lot that can be improved in that district’s special education program. While Jim Rice has been an astute board member, I have never been very comfortable that he is in the construction business.
Over in Position 7 we have a repeat, you could say, of the last election in which Cynthia Lenton-Gary was ousted by Tea Partier Dave Rosenthal and Rodrigo Carreon got his usual 500 votes. They are joined this time around by Keciana Enaohwo. Enaohwo is also in the human services line of work, and has degrees in Counseling and Health Education. She is also completing her PhD in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy. Her specialty is working with persons who have co-occurring mental health and substance abuse, children with special needs, persons affected with HIV/AIDS, and patients with diabetes and other health complications.
Again, this seems like a good match. She is more than qualified to serve on a school board, and wouldn’t it be refreshing to have an actual urban planner on the school board. Dave Rosenthal has regressive ideas with regard to school finance. He appears to be clueless that you can save money by aggressively cutting wasteful spending. Schools have cut their spending to the bone but he still thinks he can squeeze more blood out of a turnip. Rosenthal needs to go, and I don’t think that board appointee Lenton-Gary is up to the task of taking him on. The problem is, the Tea Party can field 4000 voters on any given school board election come rain or shine so Rosenthal has an edge.
In Lamar CISD two of four positions are being challenged. Karen Mendoza, the Board’s vice president has drawn two opponents, Michelle Pineda and Kathryn Kaminski. Incumbent Frank Torres is being opposed by a relative newcomer Gennaro  D’Onofrio Jr. The other two positions are being vacated by their current seat holders so the board will have some fresh faces to deal with no matter what. These races are interesting in that only residents of the districts may vote for the candidates of these offices, which makes it far more personal and homey.
And local.
Sometimes I wish Fort Bend ISD would shift to the Lamar model. Local representation is far more democratic than the approach Fort Bend takes. And while I am sure there is the occasional loose cannon on the Lamar school board, as I hear there is these days, this system of politics would seem to keep the crazies to a minimum.

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