Saturday, May 25, 2013

That Other Election: RISD Place 4

While most people's attention was distracted by the mayoral election in Richardson, there was another election taking place: for Place 4 on the Richardson ISD Board of Trustees. On April 16, the League of Women Voters of Richardson and the Richardson ISD Council of PTAs co-sponsored a forum for Lanet Greenhaw (incumbent), Rachel Chumney and Bonnie Abadee.

I was one of about 75 people in the audience of that forum. My judgment at the time? You can read the whole thing or just this summary: "If this were a prize fight, it would have been called by the third round."

Well, of course, it wasn't a prize fight. The election was held weeks after the forum, with a different audience. In the election itself, 11,659 people voted, about 11,584 more than attended that forum to, you know, actually listen to the candidates address the issues face to face. All those additional voters gave Rachel Chumney a plurality of the vote, not enough to win, but enough to force a runoff on June 15 with incumbent Lanet Greenhaw.

After the jump, did I miss something? Or did the voters who skipped the forum miss something?



As we've seen recently, it's easy to take a spoken sentence or two out of context and embarrass a candidate. So, maybe the charitable explanation is that I was being uncharitable in my own reaction to the earlier forum. Maybe I took embarrassing statements out of context and unfairly made them appear to be representative of the candidate's overall performance. Maybe I missed something.

Luckily, in the case of this RISD election, you don't have to rely on selected quotes or my memory or other secondhand reports. The full video is available to you. Watch it and judge for yourself if I am being uncharitable. This election is worth an hour of your time. Pop some corn, sit back, and see what I mean.

Then tell me what I missed. Is Chumney not as patently unqualified for trustee as I concluded the night of the forum? Are extensive knowledge and experience, which Greenhaw has, highly overrated for trustee? Really? Should RISD voters toss all that aside? For what? Because Chumney wants to start at the top? Because she says it's her time? Why? What has she done? Maybe someone can make a case for Chumney that she herself failed to make. I suspect she knows it, too, as she has declined to participate in another forum before the runoff election.

If you can't spare an hour to make an informed decision, at least read the candidate questionnaires compiled by The Dallas Morning News and the League of Women Voters of Richardson.
I believe that Rachel Chumney is sincere and passionate and a good mother. But so is Lanet Greenhaw, who is also so, so much more than that. Like qualified. Maybe it's just me, but I can't imagine that a fair reading of these questionnaires (or a fair viewing of that forum) would lead anyone to any conclusion other than that Lanet Greenhaw is far and away the only qualified candidate for the RISD Board of Trustees. Read and judge for yourself, then get out and vote June 15 (or during early voting June 3-11 at the Richardson Civic Center).
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5 comments:

Peggy Beil said...

Your points are all well taken. I am also uncomfortable with a candidate "starting at the top" without the benefit of serving as a PTA officer or having attended school board meetings prior to registering to run for this election. Has she joined or served in any child advocacy groups or educational organizations that would bring more experience to the table?

My other concern is with a candidate whose reason for running was predicated on a single issue. A person riding on one float can't see the whole parade...

In my opinion, Lanet Greenhaw's experience and background have earned her the right to retain this position.

Kevin Chumney said...

Mark: I’ll hazard just a wild guess and assume you weren’t one of the folks complaining President Obama did not have enough experience or qualifications to be elected in 2008. I understand you think our schools will suffer if we don’t have career politicians running them, but you may not have noticed that it’s not exactly Lincoln and Jefferson sitting up there on the current board. Why did over 5,200 people vote for Rachel? You may be right that they just don’t have your intelligence or wisdom and had no idea what they were doing. Or, it could be they thought 18 years on the school board by the same person was just too long and that RISD needs a mom on the board with kids in the system, a new voice who will bring energy, passion and fresh ideas for the betterment of our schools.

Kevin Chumney said...

Mark: I’ll hazard just a wild guess and assume you weren’t one of the folks complaining President Obama did not have enough experience or qualifications to be elected in 2008. I understand you think our schools will suffer if we don’t have career politicians running them, but you may not have noticed that it’s not exactly Lincoln and Jefferson sitting up there on the current board. Why did over 5,200 people vote for Rachel? You may be right that they just don’t have your intelligence or wisdom and had no idea what they were doing. Or, it could be they thought 18 years on the school board by the same person was just too long and that RISD needs a mom on the board with kids in the system, a new voice who will bring energy, passion and fresh ideas for the betterment of our schools.

Mark Steger said...

Kevin, thanks for the feedback.

I really don't think you want to compare Rachel Chumney with Barack Obama, but you went there, so, ... in fact Barack Obama didn't have as much experience as either Hillary Clinton or John McCain, and arguably not enough to adequately prepare him for the presidency, but his four years serving in the US Senate dwarfs Rachel Chumney's experience serving on the boards or committees of anything in the RISD, which is zero.

Even if you think that 15 years of service on the board is too many, you look for a replacement from the ranks of the many experienced volunteers serving the RISD. Look at Lanet Greenhaw's own experience *before* she was elected to her first term. Someone like that is who I hope replaces Greenhaw when she does step down, not someone with zero RISD-wide experience like Rachel Chumney.

By the way, none of the school board members are "career politicians." It's volunteer work for all, in addition to regular jobs and family life. Rachel Chumney is not the only mom and is certainly not the only one with energy, passion and fresh ideas for the betterment of our schools. It's platitudes like that that inexperienced candidates use to cover for their lack of qualifications.

Peggy Beil said...

Driving through neighborhoods leading up to the May election, I noticed Chumney signs were in the same yards as Maczka signs. The same can be said for where the candidates positioned themselves outside of City Hall during early voting.

I'm sure young parents voted for Rachel because she is their peer, but is it possible that she rode on Laura's coattails to garner the most votes?

Both candidates are lovely people. I think an additional forum would have been helpful to those trying to make an informed decision before voting in the run-off election on June 15th.