No Contested Seats on SBOE Change Parties

If the presidential contest was a nail biter, races for who would control education for 5.2 million Texas children largely proved to be snoozers. Not a single contested seat on the 15-member State Board of Education appeared poised to change political hands Tuesday, cementing ideological dynamics on the governing body that approves textbooks and education standards in a state that has made waves debating issues like creationism in its curriculum.
“I don’t really see a change. We’ve worked really hard and the board’s been very committed to working together, putting children above all,” said Chairwoman Donna Bahorich, a Houston Republican who easily defeated her Democratic challenger by a double-digit margin. “It’s not possible to have absolutely no controversy.”
In the closest Board of Education race of the night, Republican Ken Mercer of San Antonio led Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau by only a few percentage points after losing most of a 20 percentage point lead he had gained from early and absentee voters.Mercer, an IT project manager, is one of the most conservative members of the board as a defender of creationism, skeptic of climate change and a believer that the division between church and state is not a constitutional principal.

Democrats have wanted to defeat Mercer for years and hoped that recent fervor over a controversial Mexican-American heritage history book critics lambasted as racist would draw Latino voters in San Antonio to vote him out and replace him with Bell-Metereau, an English professor at Texas State University.

The rest of the races for the state board were blowouts, with Republican members outperforming their Democratic counterparts with double-digit leads. State Board of Education districts are generally politically safe seats, with 10 favoring Republicans and five solid for Democrats. Most contests are decided in the primary election where the battle is over ideology rather than political party.

Four seats held by Republicans were left to partisan contests. In Houston, Bahorich easily outran Democratic challenger R. Dakota Carter, a 28-year-old psychiatrist who would have been the youngest and first openly gay member to serve on the board.

Republican Keven Ellis, a chiropractor and business owner in District 9 north of Austin, trounced Democrat Amanda Rudolph, a professor at Stephen F. Austin State University. Ellis, a moderate, will take over for Thomas Ratliff who strove to get the increasingly political board to set aside partisan differences. In the district pinched between Houston and Austin, incumbent Republican Tom Maynard crushed his Democratic challenger, Judy Jennings, a director of assessment evaluation for Resources for Learning LLC, an education firm.

Curated form the Houston Chronicle

 

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