Only a few days ago, Tawnell Hobbs was noting how there seems to be very little interest in the forthcoming election for the Dallas Independent School District board of trustees, scheduled for May 8. In fact, till Tuesday, Lew Blackburn and Nancy Bingham were the only ones who'd filed -- and they're the incumbents in District 5 and 4, respectively.
Which leaves one gaping hole: District 7 in North Central Oak Cliff and West Dallas, where Jerome Garza has said he's not running for re-election. And with filing closing on Monday at 5 p.m., well, where's the rush of candidates? So far, there's but one: Schutze's new idol, Jason Roberts, just sent word that Eric Cowan, director of revenue for the Mansion on Turtle Creek and the Crescent Hotel, has filed to run for Garza's seat. (Eric's wife is Amy Cowan, incidentally -- organizer of Cliff Fest, the Mardi Gras Parade and that ginormous Election Night watch party in Bishop Arts. And she and Roberts are working on the Seventh Street Mural Project.)
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I've left a message for Cowan, who says in the press release he's running because, look, he'd like DISD to get its shi ... stuff straight before he sends his kids to public school. (And, Roberts says, Cowan was among those trying to save the Oak Cliff Christian Church and was frustrated by the district's refusal to address the situation outside the courtroom.) From the release: "With a budget of $1.5 billion, it's critical that we utilize the district's assets responsibly. Every financial decision needs to pass one litmus test. Is this the most efficient way to help our students and educators succeed?"
I'm also trying to reach Domingo Garcia to see if he's still maybe, possibly planning on running. Because that's the rumor in Oak Cliff. Has been since last summer.
Update at 2 p.m.: I spoke with Cowan moments ago, who, when asked why he'd want to be on the school board, laughs and says, "Everybody tells me I'm crazy." He's by no means a seasoned vet: He only moved back to Dallas a few years ago, and attended his first school board meeting only last week. He is, in essence, just a guy with a numbers-crunching background who wants to make sure his kids -- "and my neighbors' kids and every other kid in the city" -- get a quality education with they enroll in public school. Simple as that.
"I've learned a lot in the last four weeks [since deciding to file]," he says. "That's what I'll be doing -- getting in the doors of families and PTA members and learning what the real issues are. The desire to do this started four, five years ago, when my wife and I moved back to Dallas and a real estate agent was showing us around Lakewood. She said, 'You want to keep your price point such that you can afford to send your kids to private school, because no self-respecting parent would send their kid to DISD.' I don't believe that. There's a quality education to be had, but we need to make sure all of our schools serve our teachers and students the best we can."