If you are tired of a campaign cycle that has too often resembled the worst of reality TV, take comfort in an upcoming election that likely will be much more constructive.
Outside the primary noise that is building to Super Tuesday, candidates across North Texas are working hard in anticipation of the May 7 local elections.
Today we focus on four Dallas ISD board seats, which have lured a strong field of candidates. That’s a striking turnaround from 2011, when this city saw trustee races canceled due to lack of interest.
The DISD office-seekers this spring will be more diverse — in race and ethnicity, age and personal narratives — and more competitive than we’ve seen in quite a while.
There’s no way to know for sure what’s behind this excellent slate. But it appears to result from a real sense of progress within the district and, in contrast to past dysfunction on the board. renewed teamwork on the stuff that matters. Stuff like early childhood education, school choice and high-quality educators.
We won’t be making any recommendations for at least another month, but here’s what we’ve learned so far in prepping for our interviews:
The District 2 seat, vacated by Mike Morath after he was recently named state education commissioner: Two extremely sharp folks are already running hard: businessman Dustin Marshall, 38, and Suzanne Smith, 39, the owner of a nonprofit consulting firm.
Both candidates offer heavy-duty community and schools experience as well as endorsements. And both recognize the need for innovative strategies to bring middle-class students back into the district.
This one will be a tough call.
The District 4 seat, where Nancy Bingham decided not to seek another term: Lawyer and Army veteran Jaime Resendez, 33, seems a promising political newcomer in this heavily Latino district. His personal story — son of Mexican immigrants who grew up in Pleasant Grove — combined with his credentials, which include being among the first Latino Center for Leadership Development Fellows, give him special qualifications.
Also in this race are 23-year-old Omar Jimenez, who works as a host at the AT&T Performing Arts Center and expects to finish up his bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism this summer, and Realtor Camile White, 51, a perennial city council and school board candidate who seems to not yet have established a campaign website.
The District 5 seat, where incumbent Lew Blackburn will face two opponents: Blackburn’s board votes generally reflect a trustee who puts student achievement first. But he’s held the seat since 2001; perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad thing if another voice gets a chance.
Vying admirably to be that voice is 29-year-old Marquis Hawkins, a human resources consultant with an intriguing background. He worked as a Teach for America instructor in a low-income Houston neighborhood, then as a staffer in DISD’s HR department, focusing on teacher and principal selection, before resigning to run for office.
Also in this race is Linda Wilkerson-Wynn, 62, who listed her occupation in filing papers as community activist. She has run before for various posts and seems to not yet have begun actively campaigning.
The District 7 seat, where Eric Cowan isn’t seeking another term: College administrator Isaac Faz, 41, is running against business owner Audrey Pinkerton, 47. Faz most recently served as co-chair of DISD’s Future Facilities Task Force; that experience, combined with his deep roots in Oak Cliff, will serve him well in this race.
We’re less certain about Pinkerton, who opposed last year’s DISD bond because of concerns about its financing structure. She also lobbied trustees last May to elect their colleague Joyce Foreman as board president.
We look forward to learning more about all of these candidates. In the meantime, we celebrate that in an election year that resembles Wrestlemania, we can look forward to four DISD board races featuring reasonable and smart candidates. A far cry from just a few years ago.