The information below is the same that I have sent out to my local Cypress Tea Party, and have posted in the notes section of my Facebook page. But placing it here provides a link for easier sharing. I hope this is useful to readers.
If you’re interested, check back tomorrow, and I’ll have my recommendations for ballot propositions for amending the Texas State Constitution.
My Recommendations for Cy-Fair ISD on November 2011 Ballot
Below is my summary of Cy-Fair School Board Trustee Candidates, as well as additional resources for helping you make your decision.
There are two positions on the ballot. Position 1 has two candidates to replace Larry Youngblood, who is not running for re-election. These two are Kelly Horsley and Thomas Jackson. Position 2 has three candidates: incumbent Ethel Wolfe, as well as Christine Hartley and James Hardin.
By way of comparison, last year there were three seats open, all with incumbents running. In each case I thought the challenger (or both challengers in one case) were better than the incumbents. The incumbent who least embodied my point of view on just about any issue got more votes than anyone. That is disconcerting.
These positions are non-partisan; that is, they don’t run on a party ticket. You can sometimes get a feel for their politics in other ways, which may or may not be helpful. It may be that they all belong to the same party this time; I’m not sure. But I do know that on a couple of issues I have disagreements. My guess is that teacher organizations are more likely to get out the vote and have sway in endorsements than anyone else. And I am likely to vote for someone the teachers organizations are least likely to endorse.
During the forum on October 18, I found position 1 something of a toss-up. Kelly Horsley did not show herself particularly well during the debate. She isn’t polished at figuring out what kind of information is being sought. For example, she volunteers almost full-time, while homeschooling her children, and her husband runs a family business. I learned later she stepped down from running the Katy Tea Party—no small task—to run for this office. But when asked how she had volunteered in Cy-Fair, instead of making sure we knew she had been a volunteer, she said she didn’t volunteer anywhere in the district. Technically, she doesn’t volunteer for Cy-Fair ISD, but she does volunteer in the district—which should be adequate, even though it wasn’t the question. While the others did volunteer for Cy-Fair ISD, many of the volunteer positions were elsewhere in the community. She did list some, but I think she underplayed her contributions.
Her opponent, Thomas Jackson, is something of a technocrat. He’s a CPA, among other things, and had a great many facts and figures he could quote off the top of his head. While not warm, I found him impressive. But when it came to the issue of tax waivers (vouchers) for use in non-public schools, he absolutely wouldn’t consider such an idea. He lost my vote there, because my tax money is used to educate Texans—not merely to publicly educate Texans (a point made well by James Hardin on that question). I wish Kelly Horsley had appeared more seasoned, more confident, more ready to face public questions, because philosophically I probably have more in common with her. I plan to vote for her, but I will not be surprised if
For position 2, I’d say the incumbent, Ethel Wolfe, appeared to be the least impressive. She often waffled in answering questions, and seemed a bit uninformed for someone who has been on the job for three years. Christine Hartley seemed confident and capable as volunteers go. She has been in the trenches, most recently as a PTO president. Her credentials are probably adequate as well. But, again, she lost me on the voucher question. Her reason was that she’s a strong believer in public schools. I happen to strongly believe that public schools are a failing system, and the best we can do is try to use our tax money as wisely as we can in a system that will never match private tutoring or many good private and parochial schools. But she favors public school as if it’s a team against an opponent (of which I am apparently one). She is running as a team with Thomas Jackson, which might give them both momentum.
The most impressive candidate of all five was James Hardin. I agree with him philosophically. He was capable of expressing his philosophy in a positive way, bringing to the table a number of out-of-the-box ideas for raising revenue without the two options of raising local property taxes or removing the homestead exemption. And he doesn’t seem to be pandering to the teachers organizations. Still, he offered good suggestions for improving life for teachers, for recognizing them and compensating them better. Teachers would be better off trusting someone who has run a business and solved problems, instead of following who their organizations tell them to vote for. In my opinion.
James Hardin has vowed to keep the homestead exemption. I am told that Kelly Horsley also makes that promise, even though she wasn’t declarative on that during the debate. The others could probably all be pressed to remove it, claiming they were forced into the decision by the state.
So my endorsements go to Kelly Horsley for position 1 and James Hardin for position 2. In a questionnaire by the Conservative Coalition of Harris County NW, these two candidates got a 100% rating—you can see the voter guide below.
For additional info on these candidates:
In addition to what I’ve written above, I became aware of an article, from the local section of the Houston Chronicle, that might add more insight into the political dynamics than I knew as a regular not-too-political resident: http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/cyfair-news/article/Creation-of-PAC-heats-up-board-race-in-Cy-Fair-ISD-2236139.php.