night, April 16, at 5:30 in the Fort Worth ISD board room, 2903 Shotts Street,
the trustees will open a meeting that will, before the night is over, determine
who will represent the redrawn District 8 until the spring of 2013. At least
that’s the plan.
district lost its representative, Juan Rangel, when his residence was carved
out and shifted into the newly drawn District 9. Both single-member districts
were created under the U. S. Voting Rights Act because of a dramatic increase
in the minority population of the district as a whole as shown by the 2010
the citizens of District 8, which is now almost 65 percent Hispanic according
to the United Hispanic Council, will not get to decide by casting their votes,
the standard way to elect one’s representative in a democratic society.
Instead, the board will vote Monday on who will fill the empty seat until 2013
when regular elections are scheduled. Complicating matters was the abrupt resignation
of the board president Ray Dickerson, for health reasons he said, a few months
ago, a post once elected at large, but one that now will be decided by the
board choosing one of their own following the next election. Until then, Rangel,
who was board vice president under Dickerson, has been elevated to fill that
post by his board colleagues.
across the district have been lobbying heavily for the board to choose a Latino
to fill the seat due to what they consider the spirit of the voting rights act,
that is to have single member districts represented by those reflecting the district’s
Florez, head of the United Hispanic Council here, spoke of the Latino
community’s efforts to support one of their own for the job in a recent press
release. “Because the vast majority of the students in the Fort Worth
independent School District are Hispanic, last summer we fought a tough and
contentious battle to create an additional majority functional Hispanic
opportunity district, where people there will have an opportunity to elect a
candidate of their choice. Hispanics simply need a stronger voice in making
school district policy. …If it hadn’t been for the protections offered by the
Voting Rights Act and a threat of legal action against the school district,
it’s doubtful that we would have succeeded.
see, those with political power never share it willingly; they have to beforced.
That’s just the way it is.”
the final list of five candidates, recently picked by the board out of 14 who applied,
has only two Hispanic names on it: Anahi Esparza, 27, a TCU graduate and
Spanish teacher in the Grand Prairie school district and Joe Ralph (J.R.) Martinez,
45, a graduate of Texas Wesleyan University and a Realtor who serves on the
city’s building standards commission.
other candidates, two Anglos and one black, are: Margaret Thomas,74, who was
district director for former Republican state representative Anna
and is currently a GOP precinct chairperson seeking reelection; Isaac Manning,
53, owner of Trinity Works and father of two Paschal HS students,
president of that school’s booster club and was on the school district’s bond
oversight committee; and Richard Lee Troy, Jr., 54, anemployee of Miller
Brewing Co., with a degree in criminal justice from Dallas Baptist University.
Florez and other progressive political activists
such as Aracely Chavez, president of the Tejano Democrats, and a former school
district employee who was fired for blowing the whistle on the breakdown of the
Tyler Technologies payroll computer program that overpaid 2,000 employees more
than $1.5 million in 2010, have been openly lobbying for Martinez. Florez said,
however, that Esparza is highly qualified as well.
are organizing Hispanics to show up in force Monday night to ask the board to appoint
one of them, preferably Martinez, to the seat that is heavily weighted in a
Latino’s or Latina’s favor.
with a board that’s been disparaged as “bungling” by the Star-Telegram’s editorial pages, and has been shown by stories in this
paper as one whose members work together about as cordially as the Gingham Dog
and the Calico Cat, bets are that the votes will be split in so many ways that
no one will get a majority.
remains hopeful. “I anticipate a review with structured questioning of the
candidates followed by deliberation among board members and voting. I am
hopeful that we will have a final candidate at the close of the evening,” she
wrote in an email.
if not for lobbying for your favorite candidate, for the entertainment:
Democracy in action, Fort Worth style.