Central Texas voters showed strong support for bond packages aimed at addressing rapid growth in multiple area school districts, and elected several new faces to their school boards.
Austin district voters elected two new trustees to the school board, and a third board seat will be decided in a runoff next month.
In District 1, which represents the eastern and northeastern portion of the school district, LaTisha Anderson, a parent of a current Austin district student and caregiver for seniors and people with disabilities, ousted incumbent Ted Gordon, winning 61.8 percent of the vote. Gordon was a strong advocate for changing the names of schools with Confederate monikers and its unclear whether the change in representation will alter the debate.
In District 4, which represents the northwestern portion of the district, parent and long-time volunteer Kristin Ashy beat University of Texas student Zachary Price with 66.5 percent of the vote.
And in the race for the at-large District 9 seat, Carmen Tilton, a senior executive policy adviser for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and Arati Singh, an education program evaluator and former educator, are headed to a runoff Dec. 11. Tilton received 40.1 percent of the vote, Singh received 36.5 percent and minister Sam Russo received 23.4 percent.
In the Leander school district, Trish Bode, a communications director for state lobby giant Hillco Partners, was re-elected in the Place 1 race with 46.9 percent of the vote, , according to results reported as of press time Wednesday. Bryan Patton, who works in the information technology division for the Texas Education Agency, had received 28.2 percent, and Melissa Glaze, an attorney for the Texas Railroad Commission, had 24.9 percent.
In Place 2, Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia, executive director of the Hanger Foundation, won with 49.5 percent as of press time. Gary Hampton, an associate in the University of Texas Historically Underutilized Business Program office, received 30.4 percent. Sharyn LaCombe, a policy advisor for the U.S. Department of Transportation, trailed with 20 percent.
In Place 6, incumbent Aaron Johnson, the vice president of sales and marketing at a small consulting firm, had received 54.4 percent of the vote and beat Mike Fischer, a former educator who got 45.6 percent.
And in Place 7, Elexis Grimes, the operations and managing director for the Texas division of a construction management firm, defeated Donnie Mahan, a director of business operations at Visa, 61.9 percent to 38.1 percent.
In Del Valle, Desireé Ybarra, a 35-year-old management analyst, won the District 5 seat with 47 percent of the votes. Matthew Worthington received 27.8 percent, and David Campos Sr., who had been named to the seat nearly a year ago after the previous trustee stepped down, got 25.2 percent.
And in the Manor school district, Matildy “Sam” Samaripa, 66, a former member of the school board and a retired contract development analyst, won in the race for Place 1 with 55.2 percent of the votes, ousting the incumbent, Marlin Thomas.
Ana Cortez, 39, owner of a health care consulting firm, won re-election to Place 3 with 69.9 percent of the ballots, easily outdistancing her challenger, Reyna Villalovos Smith, the daughter of Janie Serna, a sitting trustee on the Manor board.
The Place 5 contest was a three-way race in which the top vote recipient, Temeika Thomas, 36, an insurance broker, won with 42.6 percent. LaKesha Small received 29.2 percent, and Sonia Wallace got 28.2 percent.
Pflugerville school district voters approved its $332 million bond package with 66 percent of the vote. They also approved the tax ratification election with 58 percent of the vote. The measure drops the overall tax rate by two cents to by lowering the debt portion of the rate and increasing the operations rate.
In Georgetown, voters strongly supported the bulk of the school districts $166 million bond package, but not a proposition that would pay for a new swim center. Voters approved a $150.5 million proposition, which will pay for new schools, 67.4 percent to 32.6 percent, according to results reported as of press time Wednesday. A second $15.5 million proposition that would have paid for the swim centers construction failed with 51.3 percent voting against.
The $98.6 million Liberty Hill district bond package to accommodate growth passed with 59.1 percent, results showed Wednesday.
Voters gave a resounding “yes” for a $508 million Round Rock school district bond package and backed three new faces and one incumbent to the districts board on Tuesday.
Unofficial voting results posted online early Wednesday showed 56,230 voting in favor of the bond, with 30,429 voting against it.
The bond sets aside funding to handle a growing student population, renovate aging facilities and other measures.
Big-ticket items include $50.2 million for renovating and expanding CD Fulkes Middle School in downtown Round Rock, $48.2 million to build the districts 35th elementary school and $77 million to expand and renovate the McNeil and Westwood high school campuses.
District staff have promised the bond would not equate to a district tax rate increase, though a trend of rising appraisal values could still mean an uptick in many homeowners property tax bills.
In a statement released not long after early results showed the bond winning voters’ support, Superintendent Steve Flores said the bond meets the needs of a quickly growing school district while enhancing campus safety and modernizing aging facilities.
The bond packages victory comes after voters struck down a $572 million bond election in May 2017 that appeared as three separate propositions on the ballot.
The Place 3 trustee race was the closest, with Amber Feller, a quality management director, receiving 27,991 votes compared to opponent Danielle Weston, a former Air Force Captain, who got 27,612 votes.
In the Place 4 race, Cory Vessa, a board director for a local nonprofit, won with 17,405 votes. Opponents David Schmidt, a former professor and Air Force service member, had 16,936 votes; incumbent Edward Hanna, vice president of a local bank, had 11,171 votes; and Stuart Litwin, a quality consultant and former semiconductor engineer, had 8,143 votes.
Amy Weir, a district volunteer and grants manager, handily defeated incumbent Suzi David in the Place 5 race. Weir received 39,644 votes, while David got 15,230 votes.
And in the Place 6 race, incumbent Steven Math, an actuary, held his seat with 22,757 votes against 21,464 votes for Ching Choy, a software programmer, and 9,904 votes for Jarrad Brenek, a sales development manager.
As of late Wednesday, Williamson County had yet to tally another 1,300 mail-in ballots, which could have an effect on outcomes for several races, including Place 3 trustee.