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What will the HISD board do with its open seat?

HISD Trustee Diana Davila announced her intention to resign on July 16. That became official on the 30th. The HISD Board of Trustees has the option of appointing someone to replace her, or to call a special election. So far, nobody knows what they plan to do.

If the board decides to appoint a successor, it must do so within 30 days of the vacancy. The vacancy technically begins Aug. 7 — eight days after Dávila submitted her resignation letter. That means the board must name a replacement by Sept. 6. The appointee would serve through the next regular election, in November 2011.

If the board decides to call an election, it must do so within 90 days of the vacancy. That puts the deadline at Nov. 5, which means the election would be held during the general election on Nov. 2. The person who won the election would serve through November 2011.

School board President Greg Meyers said trustees could discuss the issue at their agenda review meeting on Monday, and he expects a decision before Aug. 25.

Given that it would fall on the regular Election Day, my preference is for a special election. We’ll see what they decide.

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One Comment

  1. Jim Bell says:

    Back in the early 90s the HISD School Board was facing precisely the same situation. The Board voted to hire one of its members to the position of Superintendent, so his seat was vacated.

    The Board was faced with the same predicament. Appoint a replacement or call a special election. There was enormous pressure from the Hispanic community to call an election, so Hispanics would have the opportunity to elect someone from their community to the seat.
    The board acquiesced and called the election.

    No one was more surprised than the outspoken Hispanics when no one — not a single person — filed to run in that election. That left the board with no other option than to appoint a replacement — Felix Fraga.

    This happened not very long after a similar incident following the 1990 Census. In the redistricting that followed, the legislature gave Houston another Congressional District, and they drew it very carefully and painstakingly across north and east Houston to guarantee that a Hispanic would be elected. They freely admitted the district was drawn that way.

    Then came the 1992 election. Several Hispanics – including Houston City Councilman Ben Reyes — and one Anglo filed in the Democratic Primary. I don’t remember who ran as a Republican, but no Republican had a ghost of a chance in that district anway.

    In a district deliberately drawn to elect a Hispanic, Anglo Gene Green won the primary without a runoff. Even a court-ordered redrawing of the new district lines didn’t change the outcome. Gene Green has held District 29 since it was created.

    The HISD election/appointment fiasco happened not long after that, and both led a lot of people to start realizing that, as a group, Houston Hispanics didn’t always go along with the agendas of the activists who appointed themselves as the spokesmen for Hispanics.