HCDE fills its vacancy

Well, this is interesting. I received the following in my inbox on Friday afternoon:

Hello all,

Please see the information below:
“Yesterday, the Harris County Board of Education voted to appoint Mr. Howard Jefferson of the NAACP national board to fill position 7 in order to complete the remainder of Jim Henley’s term. We thank Mr. Jefferson for his willingness to return to the Board and serve. We thank all of those who engaged in this selection process. Your passion for education for the children in our county is inspiring. Let us continue to do what’s best for them!” – Erica S. Lee

Erica Lee, Pos. 6, Pct. 1

Howard Jefferson

What makes this interesting is that Mr. Jefferson was not one of the six finalists that had applied for the job to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Trustee Jim Henley. One can only speculate as to why the six remaining Board members went outside that list to find someone else. My speculation goes something like this: The six remaining Board members were split three Dems, three Republicans. The three Republicans did not want to appoint a Democrat who would then have the advantage of incumbency over a Republican candidate in 2014, when this seat is up for re-election. (Please note that I do not fault them for thinking this way, if in fact this was their thinking; remember, all of this is my own speculation. I’d have felt the same way if all of the applicants had been Republicans.) The logical compromise in a situation like this is to select a candidate who promises not to run for re-election. Enter Howard Jefferson, a well respected former Board member, whose last minute decision to not file for re-election in 2006 paved the way for Roy Morales to win the Position 6, Precinct 1 seat that Erica Lee now holds by forfeit. He’s qualified, he’s willing, he’s a Democrat and thus will maintain the Board’s pre-resignation 4-3 partisan balance, and I have been unofficially told he does not plan to run for election in 2014. I love it when a plan comes together.

Again, I want to stress – this is my own speculation. I am not privy to any official information, and no one has told me that this is how it went down. But we’re all grownups here, so until someone flatly denies what I’m saying it’s probably not too far from the truth. Be that as it may, Howard Jefferson is an excellent person to fill this role – I’ve reprinted the bio that came with the email announcing his appointment beneath the fold – and honestly, it’s fine by me if the Democratic nominee is chosen by the voters next March. I hope a couple of the un-selected finalists give some consideration to making a race for it.

UPDATE: Here’s the official press release on Jefferson’s appointment. The key sentence: “The move comes after an impasse during board deliberations to appoint a replacement for Jim Henley, former HCDE trustee for position 7, who resigned his position.” I’d say that’s pretty strong inferential evidence for my speculation.

Howard Jefferson’s Bio:

Howard Jefferson was born in Mississippi in 1937, Mr. Jefferson rose from humble beginnings to preeminence in Houston, Texas. He excelled in school, graduating from Southern University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. In 1962, he was the recipient of the prestigious Academic Year Fellowship in Science and Mathematics from the University of Texas. Mr. Jefferson received a Masters Degree in Administration and Supervision from the University of Houston in 1967.

A born scholar and educator, Mr. Jefferson finished his education and quickly rose to the position of Assistant Superintendent in the Houston Independent School District, where he supervised over 120 schools and eight area superintendents. He later retired and went on to become the Chairman of Protectors Insurance and Financial Services, LLC as well as the Protectors Health Partners, LLC.

Mr. Jefferson has held leadership positions on various boards and commissions, including President of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Houston Branch, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Houston Housing Authority, Chairman of the Veterans Advisory Committee, Vice President of the Houston Principals Association, Vice President of the Mustang Little League Football Team and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Operation PULL. He has also been a member of numerous boards and commissions, including the Harris County Board of Education, Shell Oil Company Diversity Advisory Board and City of Houston Urban Policy Advisory Board.

Mr. Jefferson’s leadership and community service have been consistently recognized by his colleagues. Amongst other honors, Mr. Jefferson has received the State of Texas NAACP Heroes Award, the NAACP Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award, National Baptist Association Humanitarian Award, Houston Lawyers Association Outstanding Services Award, Houston Black Fire Fighters Service Award and had a day pronounced in the city of Houston in his honor by Houston Mayor Lee P. Brown.

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