The Richardson ISD held a trustee election runoff for District 2 on Saturday. Congratulations to Vanessa Pacheco for winning. Dallas College held a trustee election runoff for District 1. Congratulations to Catalina E. Garcia for winning.
Some quick takeaways:
There were actually slightly more voters in the runoff than in the May 7 Joint Election. Interest was high in this runoff.
Vanessa Pacheco won 58-42%, a commanding win, if perhaps not quite a landslide. She won every precinct in District 2, except one: Prairie Creek. But even in Prairie Creek, Sherry Clemens's total dropped from 61% in the three-way May 7 Joint Election to 57% in the two-way runoff. Pacheco was gaining ground, in a big way, everywhere.
Why did Pacheco win? Everyone has an opinion, but I attribute her victory to three things:
- She ran a positive campaign. Others might have criticized her opponent's positions (raises hand), but Pacheco never did. She always took the high road.
- Her opponent, despite being a nice person with good intentions, took the low road. She filled mailboxes with anti-CRT mailers, despite no basis for accusing Pacheco of "pushing" CRT in schools. Why did she turn negative? I suspect the next item played a role.
- Pacheco attracted some big name endorsements once the incumbent Eron Linn was out of the race. Nine former RISD trustees and the former superintendent all endorsed Pacheco between the May 7 Joint Election and the June 18 runoff. Perhaps Clemens felt she had to counter that star power and could only do it by going negative.
The May 7 Joint Election was evenly split between Clemens (41%) and Pacheco (40%), with Eron Linn a distant third (17%). Clemens brought her voters back to the polls for the runoff, as did Pacheco. The deciding factor was that Clemens appeared to fail entirely at attracting Linn voters to her column. Pacheco's total went up between the May 7 Joint Election (1,684 votes) and the June 18 runoff (2,418 votes). Pacheco appeared to have swept the Linn voters (721 in the May 7 Joint Election).
The "other side" is not going away. Their base is solid. In the May 7 Joint Election, Sherry Clemens won 1,726 votes. In the June 18 runoff, she won 1,754 votes. They didn't leave her. They'll be back.
Money doesn't always determine results. Sherry Clemens raised $55,165 for her campaign. For 1,754 votes. That's $31.45 per vote. On top of that, she was supported by the Richardson ISD Families First PAC, which Transparency USA reported spending $54,825 this election cycle, split between Clemens and Jan Stell in District 5. All of this in two losing efforts. Money isn't everything.
Pacheco, on the other hand, raised $7,597 for the May 7 Joint Election, then picked up the pace for the runoff, raising an additional $15,377. Clemens still outraised Pacheco in the runoff, $22,939 to $15,377. And still lost. The days of inexpensive local school board elections may be over.
The days of local school board elections remaining "local" may also be over. After a string of victories across the state in the May 7 Joint Election, the Texas Tribune reported this:
But, at least for now, at least for one more election cycle, RISD voters resisted the tide of outside influence and far-right PAC money. Don't get complacent. They'll be baaaaack!“Republicans dominated school board races across Texas because parents are fed up with left-wing garbage,” Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi, said in a statement. “The Republican Party of Texas will continue to support education over indoctrination and plans to expand our efforts in local and nonpartisan races.”Source: The Texas Tribune.
In the Dallas College District 1 runoff, Dr. Catalina E. Garcia defeated Lynn Davenport 64-36%. Now that's a landslide. Davenport "improved" from 32% of the vote in the three-way May 7 Joint Election to 36% in a two-way runoff. She, too, has her base, but apparently no appeal beyond it. In RISD District 2, only Prairie Creek gave her a majority. The story was similar everywhere.