The "Doctor" Is In

School board candidate Richard Evans has a checkered past, a mail-order degree, and a confrontational manner. But many city leaders think he's the best man for the job.

Chief among the allegations is that Evans has lied about his education.
As recently as June, Evans referred to himself as "Dr. Richard Evans," though he told a ministers' forum in July that he did not graduate from an accredited college or university. He has said publicly that he graduated from Roosevelt High School, but DISD records do not support his claims. Allegations also persist that Evans has a criminal record and a spotty work history, and that he is not currently residing in District 5, which he is required to do under state election laws.

That's not to say that the other candidates are innocent of bringing thinly scripted resumes to the table. Of them, only one, Yul Lynch, has a full-time job. Another, Jerry Parks, is the only one with a college degree. Lately, Parks has been touting his educational background, but it turns out that he, too, has been embellishing his achievements.

The Dallas school board inspires few qualified candidates to put up with the abuse heaped on trustees. "We expect them to take all this crap," says political consultant Lorlee Bartos. "I think the expectations are unreasonable; no one wants to do it because it is a truly thankless job." Business leaders may lend their names to campaigns, but are more reluctant to offer their money. "If you've raised $10,000-$20,000 it's huge," Bartos says. "It just gives you an idea of how important the city thinks the school board is."

Evans' closest competitor, at least with regard to money, is Se-Gwen Tyler, a "public servant" who, at the moment, is leading the pack in campaign contributions, having raised just $3,417. Although Tyler has strong advisors--namely B.C. Foreman, who helped Ron Price unseat longtime trustee Kathlyn Gilliam--it is unclear whether she will be able to overcome the powerful forces that seem to be propelling Evans' campaign.

If you can believe the list of endorsements on the campaign material that Evans is now distributing, there's little doubt that he is the chosen one, anointed by Dallas leaders to be their next school board trustee.

Evans' endorsees include everyone from Ron Steinhart, the CEO of Bank One of Texas and member of the powerful Dallas Citizens Council, to Harry Tanner, the head of the Dallas Breakfast Group. Evans' closest allies include Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and the Rev. Zan Holmes.

Some people listed in his campaign literature, notably Dallas NAACP President Lee Alcorn, say they did not give Evans permission to use their names. But the glossy flier that Evans distributed at the DAI forum--an expensive item that school board candidates can rarely afford--leaves little doubt that his campaign is getting big money from somewhere.

With Evans' enigmatic past, marginal credentials, and personality so provocative that one school trustee is thinking about resigning if Evans gets elected, the most salient question in this race remains: Why Richard Evans?

In this election, there is one thing that Yul Lynch, Se-Gwen Tyler, and Jerry Parks all believe: Shortly before midnight on July 12, it became crystal-clear to them that the old guard, the pastors who carry substantial political clout in the black community, were backing Evans, and that they weren't going to play fair.

At that late hour, the candidates say, they each received a call from the Rev. S.C. Nash, the co-chair of the Unified Black Clergy of Greater Dallas, who was phoning to invite them to a ministers' forum that would be held the next day at the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church.

By that time, the ministers had already met with Evans and, evidently, decided to back him. This fact, the three candidates say, became clear when the ministers' forum was over.

Immediately following the event, some 20 ministers and community activists gathered outside the church to pose for a picture with Evans. In the photo, which now appears inside his fancy campaign flier, a smiling Evans is sandwiched between Nash and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

Other people in the photo are former school board member Kathlyn Gilliam; former Dallas City Councilwoman Diane Ragsdale; and Patricia Hawkins, former chair of Yvonne Ewell's District 5 advisory council.

The flier also includes written compliments from Commissioner Price; the Rev. Frederick Haynes, who is Evans' treasurer and the influential Rev. Zan Holmes. (Holmes, who was on vacation until the end of July, did not return the Dallas Observer's phone calls.)

"Richard is a brilliant and energetic leader; his ability to articulate the concerns of our community and his commitment to children and education make him the best choice for the school board," Holmes is quoted as saying.

The flier also states that Evans has been endorsed by the Classroom Teachers of Dallas, the Alliance of Dallas Educators, the Political Congress of African-American Women, and, surprisingly, the Unified Black Clergy of Greater Dallas.

"It was just a set-up meeting," says B.C. Foreman, Tyler's campaign advisor who attended the forum in his candidate's absence. "They went right out and took a picture. How do you have a camera ready before you know who you're going to endorse?"

Tyler says the first thing she did when she entered the race was to call the ministers, Price, and other black leaders. She says they left her with the clear impression that they were going to give each candidate a fair hearing before making their endorsements.

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