Chron overview of the HD139 runoff

While I hope that the Chron runs overviews of all of the primary runoffs, I really hope they run at least one freaking story about the HCAD special election.

Charlene Ward Johnson

Angie Thibodeaux is an affordable housing consultant who wants to make homebuying more accessible. Charlene Ward Johnson hopes to use her time on the Houston Community College Board to improve public education funding.

The two Houston women will face off in a May runoff election in one of the few open Democratic House seats in Harris County. Rep. Jarvis Johnson is vacating the House District 139 seat for a bid to fill the state Senate seat formerly held by Houston Mayor John Whitmire.

Thibodeaux and Ward Johnson emerged from a group of five candidates in this year’s Democratic primary, receiving 33% and 24% of the vote, respectively. With similar platforms, both Thibodeaux and Ward Johnson cited their experience as what makes them the best candidates to represent the district, which stretches northwest of the city.

Ward Johnson is currently the District 2 trustee for the community college board. In that position, she said she’s worked to reduce the cost of attendance by advocating for more overall school funding.

“I decided to run because I do understand the issues of the community,” Ward Johnson said. “I understand what’s been going on in Austin and I have the experience to go there and get resources and bring solutions back to the people.”

Thibodeaux works as a consultant for the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a nonprofit organization that helps historically disadvantaged people become homeowners. She’s also a former vice president of Bank of America’s Home Retention Division and a former president of the Acres Homes Super Neighborhood Council.

“For the last 25 years, I’ve been on every end of the spectrum, from the corporate environment to nonprofit to advocacy, outreach and organizing,” Thibodeaux said. “I wanted to run because I know that I can impact and affect policy, particularly when it comes to school, public safety and our seniors.”


Angie Thibodeaux

As for public education, Thibodeaux and Ward Johnson both want to increase teachers’ salaries and see an end to the state takeover of Houston Independent School District.

Ward Johnson is against private school vouchers and says she wants to introduce legislation that creates a variety of funding formulas for public schools, rather than just one.

“I will create a different funding formula because our community may have different needs from another community,” Ward Johnson said. “Having just a blanket amount you give for every student does not work.”

Thibodeaux did not take a stance on school vouchers and said she wants to examine school curriculum to get a better understanding of why the GOP is pushing to promote private education in the first place.

“I think we need to dive into the details, dig deep and see what the root of the problem is,” Thibodeaux said. “Why are we having this discussion in the first place? What brought the bill about?”

You can get more information on both candidates from the Erik Manning spreadsheet. I interviewed Charlene Ward Johnson for the primary, and you can listen to that here. I reached out to Thibodeaux for an interview but never got a response. I may try again for the runoff, we’ll see. I will say, if I do talk with her, I hope she has a better answer about vouchers than what she gave here. I doubt she’d ever support an Abbott voucher bill, but how can you be a candidate for the House and not already know what their push to give a bunch of public money to private schools is about? This is nothing new, all that has changed is the ratcheting up of the pressure on Republicans to fall in line even if they see no benefit to their district and constituents, and the willingness to viciously attack otherwise staunch allies for this difference of opinion. All due respect, but where have you been?

Anyway, I’m sure we’ll get more of these stories, as there are several runoffs of great interest. What we need before then is some coverage of the SD15 special election and especially the HCAD races, since all of Harris County will have the opportunity to vote for those three positions, if only they know that the need to. My expectation for turnout for this right now is abysmal, because we do not have any history of voting in May other than in primary runoffs. And this ain’t that. C’mon Chron, get on the story already.

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