Alicia Perry has been elected to serve the SAISD Board for District 2.
Alicia Perry, elected to serve on the SAISD board for District 2, has been critical of partnerships with charter schools, among other things. Credit: Courtesy / Campaign

With all precincts reporting across the area, San Antonio ISD incumbents Patti Radle and Christina Martinez will hang on to their school board seats. Alicia Monica Perry, the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel-endorsed candidate, won the District 2 seat.

Alamo Heights ISD incumbent trustee David Hornberger won his campaign for reelection with 74 percent of the vote. In Harlandale ISD, Elizabeth Limon and Elaine Anaya-Ortiz captured their seats, and incumbent Ricardo Moreno won reelection with 63 percent of the vote.

All incumbents in Northside ISD won their races. Southwest ISD incumbents Sylvester Vasquez and Ida Sudolcan also will retain their seats on that board.

Each district operates with candidates winning by plurality, meaning a candidate must receive more votes than any other candidate to win and is not required to achieve an outright majority. This means runoffs are not a possibility.

San Antonio ISD

Three seats were up for grabs in San Antonio ISD, with two incumbents winning reelection.

Radle won 57 percent of the votes over challenger Janell Rubio. In District 6, Martinez won with the smallest margin of votes, about 38 percent. Chris Castro had the next highest total with 33 percent and Eduardo Torres captured 29 percent of tabulated votes.

In the open District 2 slot, Perry won with 65 percent of the vote. Perry has been critical of school closure, a move to lay off teachers, and partnerships with charter schools.

“The people spoke in [high] numbers, so I think our community over here in D2 is looking for somebody who will speak up for the people and not necessarily the investors or people with different interests in [charters],” Perry said.

Much of the debate leading up to election day focused on recent board decisions to partner with outside organizations to manage campuses and create more in-district charters and the degree to which each candidate would support Superintendent Pedro Martinez.

Radle, the board’s president, has served as an SAISD trustee since May 2011. She previously served as a San Antonio City Council member from 2003 to 2007. Radle’s win will mark her third term on the SAISD dais representing her Westside district. Radle beat Rubio, a San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel-backed candidate.

“I feel encouraged that the community is saying yes to the direction that we are going in with these very good initiatives to bring to the campuses and our establishment of choice schools and also our work to strengthen our neighborhood schools,” Radle said. “I feel encouraged that the community is, you know, saying keep going. Keep the momentum going.”

SAISD school board President Patti Radle has comfortably taken the lead in District 5 during the 2019 SAISD school board elections.
SAISD District 5 voters reelected school board President Patti Radle to a third term. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Radle said she looked forward to working with Perry on the board and hoped that once Perry learned more about SAISD, she would understand more about controversial board votes she had previously critiqued.

Christina Martinez was appointed to serve District 6 in March 2017 after trustee Olga Hernandez resigned her position in the wake of her arrest on wire fraud charges. (Hernandez later was acquitted.) Martinez is the vice president of external relations at Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas. She faced two challengers in Castro, a former SAISD principal who now serves as an administrator in North East ISD, and Torres, a recent SAISD graduate who was endorsed by the Alliance.

“I want to thank the voters of District 6 for giving me the opportunity to serve another 4 years on the SAISD board,” Martinez wrote to the Rivard Report via text. “I am excited for the opportunities to continue improving the district for all kids moving forward.”

Both Torres and Castro were critical of Martinez’s support of Superintendent Pedro Martinez and participation in votes to turn over day-to-day operations of 18 campuses to outside managing entities.

Both of Martinez’s challengers said while they did not win, they thought the results – with more than 50 percent of voters casting ballots for someone other than Martinez – showed a community desire for more accountability.

“We are disappointed obviously. We wanted to win,” Castro said. “At the end of the day, I think it shows that over [50] percent of the community has a real confidence problem in the superintendent and this board. I hope it sends a very strong message that they need to listen to the community and there needs to be more transparency.”

Torres agreed, saying he doesn’t think every decision “will slip by unanimously” anymore.

James Howard previously held the District 2 trustee position for two decades. Choosing not to run this year, Howard cleared the way for one of four interested candidates for the Eastside district. The four candidates were Darrell Boyce, Royce Sullivan, Perry, and Christopher Green.

Northside ISD

In San Antonio’s largest school district, four seats were up for reelection and all but one incumbent drew a challenge. All incumbents won their races and the board’s composition will remain the same.

Incumbents Joseph Medina, Gerald Lopez, and Bobby Blount held a lead throughout the night. Medina won over two challengers with 46 percent of the vote. Lopez won with 58 percent. Blount had 55 percent of the early vote.

In District 1, Medina, an assistant principal in Southwest ISD, faced opposition from David Salcido and George Lynn Britton. Britton, a former trustee, served for 12 years from 2003 to 2015, when he lost to Medina in a close race determined by just 70 votes.

Lopez, the incumbent in District 2, drew one challenger in Mary Olison, an education consultant and former assistant superintendent in San Antonio ISD. Lopez was first elected to the board in 2015 and previously worked as the chief of staff for City Councilman Ray Lopez until 2017. He is currently the president of G&L Lawn Services.

The third and final contested race was to represent District 4. Longtime trustee Blount has represented the district for the last 20 years. Rolando Garcia, a retired educator and disabled veteran, was the lone challenger.

The only uncontested trustee, incumbent board President M’Lissa Chumbley, was first elected to Northside’s board in 1995. She has served four terms as the board’s president. Without a challenger, Chumbley will continue serving Northside’s District 3.

Alamo Heights ISD

Just one seat on Alamo Heights’ board of seven was contested in May elections with incumbent Hornberger drawing a challenger in Arlene Serrano. Hornberger won a second term on the board Saturday night with 74 percent of the vote.

Hornberger, an investment advisor who graduated from Alamo Heights and has five children who currently attend or will attend school in the district, has served on the board since 2016. Serrano is a Spanish language arts and science lead teacher at KIPP Esperanza Dual Language Academy.

Uncontested in his own race, Brian Hamilton will fill the Place 2 trustee seat, which was vacated by trustee John Tippit. Tippit chose not to seek reelection.

Harlandale ISD

As the Texas Education Agency continues to investigate questionable board and superintendent action in Harlandale ISD, the district held elections for three trustee seats with some familiar and new faces asking for voter support.

In District 5, Anaya-Ortiz won with 53 percent of the vote and just 42 votes over challenger Tomas Uresti.

“I would have been more comfortable with a bigger early vote lead. You know I tried to do what I can to make sure to get out the early vote, and I’m just hoping that the election results will end in my favor today,” Anaya-Ortiz said before the final vote was in.

Reached by phone after all precincts reported Anaya-Ortiz’s win, Uresti said he didn’t think he would ask for a recount. The main reason he ran, he said, was to make sure the Texas Education Agency did not take over the district or lower its accreditation. Uresti said he hopes to meet with Anaya-Ortiz to give input on how this intervention can be avoided.

“Hopefully she will at least hear me out,” Uresti said. “I don’t want to see the district lose its accreditation under any circumstances.”

In District 6, Limon won with 59 percent of the vote. In District 7, incumbent Moreno captured 63 percent of the vote.

Anaya-Ortiz is a federal government employee. Uresti, a longtime board member and former State representative, sought to take back his previous District 5 seat, which was recently vacated by Jesus Tejeda. Uresti’s tenure on the board lasted 13 years and coincided with a period of time the TEA examined as part of its investigation. He resigned from his Harlandale board seat to take an elected position in the Texas House of Representatives but lost his bid for reelection in 2018.

Three candidates attempted to fill the seat that represents District 6, which was vacated by Carlos Quezada after he won a judicial election last November. Limon, Jesse Diaz, and Lorenzo Gonzalez competed for the open trustee position. Limon previously ran for the position in 2015 and lost to Quezada by 100 votes.

Three additional candidates sought the District 7 seat, including Moreno, who ousted challenger Jesse “Jay” Alaniz in 2015 with close to 73 percent of the vote. Alaniz served on the board from 2007 to 2015 and was previously the board president. The third candidate, Lee Martinez, graduated from Harlandale High School in 2014 and currently works as a San Antonio Police Department 911 dispatcher.

While three trustees will join the elected board, it is uncertain if they will be able to hold on to their power in the years to come. If the TEA wraps up its investigation and decides to replace the elected board with a board of managers – something that has been done in Southside and Edgewood ISDs – the elected board’s power will be void and the elected officials will be replaced with State-appointed managers.

Southside ISD

Southside ISD currently operates under the governing board of five State-appointed managers. The seven elected trustees have no power currently, but a TEA official recently told the district that a transition process would begin to restore elected power by May 2021.

This means the four trustees elected Saturday will likely be able to actually serve some of their term on Southside’s governing board.

With all votes tallied, Maggie Morales won with 47 percent of the vote in Position 1, Mary Silva won with 68 percent of the vote, Lisa Salazar won with 49 percent of the vote, and Katie Farias captured 56 percent of the vote.

The four winners will fill positions for four-year terms.

Southwest ISD

Four candidates ran to fill two trustee positions in Southwest ISD, with the seats going to the top two vote-getters.

The two incumbents, Sylvester Vasquez, who was first elected in 2000, and Ida Sudolcan, who was elected in 2003, were the top two candidates and will retain their seats on the board.

With 399 total ballots cast, Vasquez and Sudolcan received support from the majority of voters, each gaining approval from more than 280 of the 399 voters.

Vasquez and Sudolcan faced challengers in Gloria dela Garza Rankin, a former bank fraud investigator and stay-at-home mom with three children attending the district, and Pete Bernal, a retired military officer.

Judson ISD

Just two at-large district races were contested in Judson ISD. The lone single-member district up for election was uncontested and will be filled by incumbent and former district educator Suzanne Kenoyer.

Current trustee Renée Paschall won her race for reelection with 55 percent of the vote. In the race for District 7, Lynette Perez won with 34 percent of the vote. The four candidates in Perez’s race were separated by just a few hundred votes.

In at-large District 6, Paschall drew a challenger in Tom England. Paschall is a graduate of and former educator in Judson ISD who was first elected to the board in 2015. England, also a former Judson educator, served six terms on Universal City’s City Council.

The race for at-large District 7 was packed with four trustee hopefuls: Christopher Galloway, Willie Black, Walter Harchut, and Perez. Perez is a former Las Vegas city councilwoman and assistant city manager. She lists tackling Judson ISD’s deficit as her No. 1 priority.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.