Party politics ensnares city, school board elections in Fort Bend County

While the country is grappling with the presidential election, some with joy and some others in despair, Texas Republicans are rejoicing in their resounding success.

Fort Bend County residents , however, have to contend with mixed results, Republican win in state and federal elections, and a Democratic Party sweep in countywide offices.

And an unintended consequence of holding the non-partisan city and school district elections along with the November general election, has been that these elections turned highly partisan, especially in Missouri City and Fort Bend ISD.

Politicization of school board and city elections is not new and it has been happening overtly.

As far back as in 2014, this newspaper reported that “Partisan politics in local school board and city council elections is at an unprecedented level this year as both the Republican and Democratic parties have injected themselves into the elections.

“While the Republican Party has not ‘officially’ endorsed its candidates, (then) Fort Bend County Democratic Party chairman Don Bankston went one step further.”

Bankston sent an appeal to Democrats, “Dear Democrat,

For too long Democrats have let the Republicans run our cities and our schools. simply because we didn’t bother to vote in municipal and school elections. These elections matter. They concern our communities and our children, which are our most valuable resources. It is vitally important that you vote this time because we have some excellent Democratic candidates who can turn the tide in favor of the people and not just those who do business with our cities and our schools.”

This politicization, had marginal impact on the elections before, but this time, it turned out to be a total political war, mirroring the presidential election.

Ironically, in Missouri City where the contest has been among Democrats, minorities and women, the Democratic Party backed a woman nominee and endorsed her.

The incumbent mayor Yolanda Ford and two of her colleagues on the city council are facing a highly polarized electorate, not on the basis of political affiliations, but on the governance of the city and several controversial decisions like firing and hiring the city manager.

The Fort Bend County Democratic Party officially endorsed Ford, in spite of the underlying non-political issues.

Fred Taylor, an African American and Robin Elackatt, an Indian American split the votes and Ford barely missed the 50 percent mark and a straight win.

Fred G Taylor 6,265 (20.26%)

Robin Elackatt 9,683 31.32%

Yolanda Ford 14,970 (48.42%)

Ford received overwhelming support from the Democratic majority precincts.

In the At-Large Pos. 1, incumbent Vashaundra Edwards eked her victory by getting 0.66 percent more than her opponent Reginald Pearson.

She got 13,888 votes (50.66%) and Pearson got 13,528 votes (49.34%).

Both are African Americans and Edwards is a Ford supporter.

In the At-Large Position 2 race, incumbent Chris Preston, a Ford cohort, is forced into a runoff with Lynn Clouser. Here, Clouser, a Democrat, has been campaigning for the city council as a non-partisan, soliciting support from all communities and from both the parties.

Clouser, daughter of Fort Bend County Justice of the Peace Joe Clouser, had to fend off campaign attacks, caricaturing her as a Republican.

Chris Preston 11,938 (42.18%)

James Mable 3,044 (10.76%)

Lynn Clouser 13,320 (47.06%)

Despite the lack of an overt endorsement from the Democratic Party, Clouser emerged in the top, partly due to the strength of her candidacy.

The Fort Bend ISD election results are likely to have a profound impact on the school administration because the defeat of three incumbents also suggests a vote against Superintendent Charles Dupre, though his name was not on the ballot.

The broad campaign platform of the challengers has been to alter the status quo.

Incidentally, the FBISD Board of Trustees on October 28 after the annual evaluation, voted to extend Dr. Charles Dupre’s contract through April 2024, which is an extension of one year.

Two of the defeated trustees are women. While Kristin Tassin is a known Republican as she had contested in state elections, Allison Drew, an African America, enjoyed the support of Republicans.

Denetta Williams and Shirley Rose-Gilliam have run for FBISD board previously. Angie Hanon, who handsomely defeated FBISD President Jason Burdine, is no stranger to the school district.

After spending fifteen years in public education, Angie began her own educational consulting business, Her consultation has provided support to local school districts in various capacities including teacher professional development, campus-based instructional coaching, grant writing and grant facilitation, curriculum audit and technology deployment project management, program evaluation and curriculum writing. As an educational consultant, Angie has supported several instructional programs in Fort Bend ISD, including Bilingual and ESL, Special Education, Prekindergarten, Career and Technical Education and Curriculum and Instruction.