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Alma Lara

Runoff precinct analysis, HISD I

To wrap up my series of precinct analyses from the 2009 Houston runoffs, we turn now to the HISD Trustee race in District I. I’ve added a sheet to the Google spreadsheet I put together for the District Council analysis with the precincts from this race, again minus the trivial ones. The first thing you notice when you compare the precincts that Alma Lara won to the precincts that Anna Eastman won is that they were dealing with two different electorates.

Precincts won by Alma Lara Ballots Voters Turnout Lara Eastman Lara% East% HISD% ============================================================= 4,298 33,442 12.85% 2,669 1,284 67.5 32.5 92.0 Precincts won by Anna Eastman Ballots Voters Turnout Lara Eastman Lara% East% HISD% ============================================================= 6,527 26,159 24.95% 2,048 3,627 36.1 63.9 86.7

I skipped two relatively small precincts in which Lara and Eastman tied. It rather goes without saying that it’s hard to win when your voters aren’t showing up at the polls. This comparison reminds me strongly of the analysis I did a year ago in the HD133 race won by State Rep. Kristi Thibaut. In 2006, when turnout in Democratic precincts was lousy, Thibaut lost and it wasn’t particularly close. In 2008 when those precincts were closer to parity with the Republican boxes, she won. Lara didn’t need to be even near parity to defeat Eastman – holding all other percentages equal, a turnout level of 15% would have been enough for her to eke out a win – but she couldn’t afford to be doubled up like this.

Note that in the table above, “ballots” refers to the total number of ballots cast in those precincts, not the total number of votes the candidates got. “HISD%” represents the number of ballots cast that included a vote in this race. As you can see, fewer people in Lara’s precincts skipped this race, which along with her higher margin in those precincts is why she could have won with a lower lever of overall turnout. I bring that up because it had occurred to me that Eastman might have benefited from a wave of Parker supporters coming to the polls. Indeed, while Parker did well in Lara’s precincts, winning 2773 of 4198 votes there, or 66.0%, she really killed in Eastman’s precincts, going 5078 for 6456, or 78.7%. That may have helped drive some of the higher turnout in those precincts, but more of those folks didn’t stick around to register an opinion in the HISD race, so whatever the effect there, it was tempered somewhat.

The other thing that struck me about these numbers is how the two citywide Republican-versus-Democrat runoffs went. (I’ve not been considering Costello versus Derr for these purposes, as Costello did not run on a Republican persona.)

Candidate Votes Pct ======================== Khan 5,206 53.0 Green 4,613 47.0 Christie 4,861 52.3 Jones 4,439 47.7

I’m amazed by this. There’s nothing about this district that says “Republican-favoring” to me. Indeed, it’s almost entirely contained within City Council District H, which both Green and Jones won, with three precincts in A and two more in B. Obviously, it was the rest of H that was friendly to them. I looked at these boxes to see if Eastman, who received the endorsement of Linda Toyota, the Republican candidate who finished third in November, plus incumbent Republican Trustees Harvin Moore and Greg Meyers, performed more strongly in areas won by the Republican Council candidates. The answer is Yes:

Precincts won by Christie Christie Jones Chris% Jones% Lara Eastman Lara% East% =========================================================== 3,162 2,280 58.1 41.9 2,586 3,243 44.4 55.6 Precincts won by Jones Christie Jones Chris% Jones% Lara Eastman Lara% East% =========================================================== 1,684 2,108 44.4 55.6 2,087 1,673 55.5 44.5 Precincts won by Khan Khan Green Khan% Green% Lara Eastman Lara% East% ======================================================== 3,956 3,017 56.7 43.3 2,966 4,091 42.0 58.0 Precincts won by Green Khan Green Khan% Green% Lara Eastman Lara% East% ======================================================== 1,250 1,596 43.9 56.1 1,788 857 67.6 32.4

Yes, the disparity between the Christie precincts and the Khan precincts is really that sharp. For what it’s worth, the correlation only goes one way, as both Christie and Khan won the precincts that Lara carried, though by a small margin in each case. I consider this to be further evidence of the strength of Christie and Khan’s advertising efforts, even as they fell short.

So that about wraps it up for me. I don’t think I have anything more to say about the 2009 elections. I’ll be going full steam ahead on the 2010 contests – I already am, really – and I hope you enjoyed these analyses. There will be plenty more to do in the coming months.

HISD Trustee runoff overview

Here’s the Chron story on the two runoffs for HISD Trustee. It echoes a theme from that Examiner story we saw yesterday.

The outcome of the races could reshape several board debates — particularly over wages for construction workers, efforts to hold weak teachers more accountable and the role of magnet schools. Early voting runs through Tuesday, and Election Day is Dec. 12.

Both Lara and Collins support paying contractors higher wages based on standard federal rates. They argue that bigger paychecks will draw more-qualified workers and prevent shoddy construction.

The Harris County AFL-CIO, which endorsed Lara and Collins, pushed the board to adopt the wages this year. Marshall, who has had crucial support from unions in past campaigns, agreed with the majority of the board in rejecting the idea as too costly.

“This is insulting in a way, that as hard as times are that any organization could even make this an issue,” said Marshall, who estimated that paying the federal rates for the 2007 bond projects would cost an extra $75 million.

Lots riding on the line for several organizations in these races. I noticed that of the four runoff candidates, the Chron did not say where Anna Eastman stood on the issue of prevailing wages. So I sent her a Facebook message to ask, and this is the answer she sent me:

Thanks for asking me about this issue. It never came up in my interview with [Chron reporter Ericka Mellon]. My understanding of the recent argument between the AFL-CIO and the Board of Trustees is tied to some promises that were made by the former superintendent and HISD school bond program administrator Dick Lindsey during the 2007 bond campaign, but not agreed upon by the board.

As a board member I would hope that any negotiations of this sort would involve all parties. I believe when we are spending public dollars there should be accountability on both sides and we should be hiring licensed workers at a fair wage and insure that we are following policy guidelines for inclusion of minority contractors.

Our dollars should be spent to effectively serve and benefit the most children possible, not to fund adult interests. As a board member of a public institution charged with educating children, my decisions will be guided first and foremost by what benefits children and their education.

So there you have it.

Meet the HISD Parent Visionaries

I’ve mentioned the group HISD Parent Visionaries a couple of times in this space. Here’s an article about them from the Examiner.

Parent Visionaries was spawned after HISD’s former superintendent, Dr. Abelardo Saavedra, voiced an interest in eliminating or reducing magnet school transportation. The parent group, largely from District V, became vocal in opposition and since, has spread support to parents in other districts in HISD.

“Our goal is to have memberships from all districts,” says Mary Nesbitt, one of the group’s driving forces.

Parent Visionaries now claims a list of about 350 members who communicate in person and online.

As noted in the story, HISD Parent Visionaries was active in the Trustee elections, with two of their three endorsed candidates – Mike Lunceford in V and Anna Eastman in I – either winning or making it to the runoffl. They have now endorsed Trustee Larry Marshall in his race in IX, and in each case – Marshall versus Adrian Collins, Eastman versus Alma Lara – they are opposed by candidates who are backed by the Houston Federation of Teachers. It’ll be very interesting to see who wins this particular fight.

Endorsement watch: Toyota endorses Eastman in HISD I

In the aftermath of the election, I had wondered whether candidates who didn’t make the runoff would be endorsing one of those who did. We all know about the Mayor’s race and the Controller’s race by now, but I was also curious about the HISD District I Trustee’s race, since that’s where I live. Via email from the Anna Eastman campaign, we have an answer:

Anna Eastman today received the endorsement of her former opponent, Linda Toyota in the HISD Trustee, District 1 race.

“It is important to have HISD Board members who are open minded and committed to continuing to move the District forward,” said Toyota. “Two-way communication with diverse constituents in the District, insuring accountabilities are in place and board governance through meaningful policies continues to be important to me. It is for these reasons I have decided to support Anna Eastman for our District I school board trustee.” She continued, “Your vote for Anna Eastman will insure that our schools will continue to improve and teachers can be recognized for their accomplishments.”

“Linda Toyota demonstrates a commitment to education and the children of Houston as evidenced by her campaign, community involvement and work history. I am proud to have her confidence and endorsement as I enter into this stage of the campaign,” said Eastman.

Anna Eastman has also been endorsed by:

Houston Business-Education Coalition
Houston Chronicle
Harris County Women’s Political Caucus

Eastman’s opponent, Alma Lara, has most of the Democratic establishment’s endorsements. That’s partly because she was in the race early on, well before Eastman got in and had the chance to compete for them, and partly because she too is a good, solid candidate. Unlike 2005, when the difference in quality between eventual winner Natasha Kamrani and her opponent was stark, you really can’t go wrong this year.

HISD candidate spending

After all I’ve done detailing how city candidates are spending their campaign money, I’d love to be able to tell how how candidates for HISD Trustee are spending theirs. I’d love to, but unfortunately I can’t, because that information isn’t available online, and I just don’t have the time to tromp over to HISD headquarters and request printed copies to peruse. Fortunately, Ericka Mellon did do that, and she reports on it. Not as detailed as I’d have liked, but much better than nothing. And with that, I resolve to ask every HISD candidate I’ll interview in 2011 whether they support a requirement that these reports be made available online, as it is with the city, county, state, and feds. That really shouldn’t be an issue this far into the 21st century, but there you have it.

On a related note, you should also read this article about what the Houston Federation of Teachers is doing in the HISD Trustee races.

In a letter to union leaders this month, HFT President Gayle Fallon campaigned for a “pro-employee board” that won’t push for teachers to be fired or put on improvement plans if their students perform poorly on state tests.

For the last three years, the Houston Independent School District has ranked teachers based on their students’ performance and paid bonuses to those at the top of the pack. Some trustees have been calling on the administration to focus now on those teachers ranked near the bottom.

“If our candidates win … the balance of power shifts,” Fallon wrote to her union stewards. “You get a pro-employee board and we end the threats and begin to restore some sanity to HISD.”

HFT is backing Alma Lara, whom they’ve been supporting since before Natasha Kamrani decided not to run for re-election, in District I, and Adrian Collins in District IX. They did not endorse in District V. I certainly sympathize with what the HFT is doing – it’s their purpose to protect the interests of their members, after all – but I also think there’s merit to what HISD wants to do, and by Fallon’s admission later in the article, the threat of which she warns has been overstated.

And finally, if you’re in the Alief ISD, you should read this story about a candidate forum for the Alief ISD contestants.

School board candidates who are campaigning for reform in Alief ISD had few specifics about where they would cut spending. The group includes [Sarah] Winkler’s opponent for Position 6, Baltazar Gutierrez, sales representative for an industrial casting company, along with incumbent Nghi Ho, Tammi Sturm, mother, and business owner, and Marilyn Swick, co-owner with her husband of The Houston Sleep Center.

Graduate student Gary Floyd, who is in the race for Position 7 with Swick and incumbent Gary Cook, did not participate in the forum.

Gutierrez denied he’s aligned with Improve Alief Schools Political Action Committee created by affluent homeowners, but he’s pictured on the group’s flyer, which advocates for a line-by-line budget review to trim 2 percent, about $9 million, from the current budget and give taxpayers relief.

Ho’s competition is for the Position 5 seat by Grace Parmer, 19, a Hastings High graduate currently enrolled in the Honors College at Houston Baptist University. She has aligned with Winkler, Cook, who is a hospital administrator, and retired teacher Ella Jefferson in a campaign to protect and further academic gains the district has made in the past few years. Budget cuts can’t occur without having an impact on personnel and school programs, they say.

You know how I feel about the “tax cuts above all else” philosophy, especially when it’s those who would benefit the most that are pushing it. My interview with Sarah Winkler is here.

Tuesday mail call

After several politics-free days, my mailbox was overflowing with campaign literature today. Two pieces from the Houston Turnout Project, one that generically advocated early voting and one that advocated for Annise Parker, using language that I daresay we’ll all find familiar. Three concerning the HISD District I race, two for Alma Lara and one for Anna Eastman. And one for Ronald Green, which listed his endorsements yet not his website URL. All were positive pieces – no attack mailers, at least not today. What’s been in your mailbox lately?

Endorsement watch: HISD Trustee

The Chron finishes up their work for this election by making its endorsements in the HISD Trustee races.

For HISD Trustee in District I, an open seat, we recommend Anna Eastman. As the president of the Travis Elementary PTA, Eastman was known for fighting hard for her school, and she’s likely to be just as persistent in attacking HISD’s dropout rate. As a former social worker, she understands the complex problems facing Houston’s least-privileged kids. She’s a strong proponent of school choice, magnet-school busing, and of holding HISD employees accountable for students’ performance.

For HISD Trustee in District V, also an open seat, we recommend Mike Lunceford, a petroleum engineer and member of HISD’s bond oversight committee. He notes that as a parent he’s seen the best that HISD has to offer — his daughter graduated from Bellaire with 42 hours of AP credits — but he states strongly that we must fix the system’s worst. Our “horrible” dropout rate, he says, can be mitigated with early-childhood programs and by assigning strong teachers to students when they begin to fall behind.

For HISD Trustee in District IX, we believe that Adrian Collins is the best choice. District IX is home to several of HISD’s most troubled schools. Incumbent Larry Marshall has served for more than a decade, but we believe that, for the sake of the district’s students, it’s time for change.

Once again, I’m pleased that they managed to get all this done before the start of Early Voting. That’s not how it had been in recent elections. I hope this is the new normal.

You can listen to my interview with Eastman here, my interview with Lunceford here, and of course my interview with Collins is just beneath this post. You can also find interviews with the other candidates in Districts I and V on my 2009 Election page. Today is also the day that the Chron has its overview of District I, which notes that Eastman is endorsed by outgoing Trustee Natasha Kamrani.

Kamrani pushed for the Houston Independent School District to more aggressively weed out weak teachers based, in part, on low student test scores — an idea that drew fighting words from HFT President Gayle Fallon.

Even before Kamrani announced she would not seek re-election, Fallon lent support to candidate Alma Lara, a retired HISD principal.


All three District I candidates said HISD should continue rewarding performance bonuses to top teachers based on student test scores, and they agreed that teachers who fall short need more training.

“If there is no change in students’ success, career adjustments and growth plans need to be in place and enforced,” Toyota said.

Eastman agreed that struggling teachers should be put on improvement plans.

“Kids only have one chance,” she said. “We must insist that we have teachers who can achieve academic growth in their classrooms.”

Lara said the district has a process for documenting poor-performing teachers, and it should use student data to improve teacher training.

I fully expect this race to go to a runoff, just as Kamrani won election in 2005 in a runoff. Just over 3,000 votes ultimately decided the winner in December. If you’re in District I, please pay attention to this race. Your vote really matters.

We’ve got mail

Campos observed the other day that he’d hardly received any campaign mailers so far this year. That’s largely been true for me as well – before this week, I’d gotten the Peter Brown pieces, an Anna Eastman mailer, and maybe one or two others that aren’t sticking in my mind. But since Thursday, things have picked up considerably. Over the last three days, I have received:

– One more Peter Brown piece.
– Two mailers from Alma Lara, one of which prominently features State Rep. Jessica Farrar.
– A Pam Holm mailer, which has the same front as this one but a different back, which appears to be an image taken from her TV ad.
– A Ronald Green mailer – yes! he’s spending money!
– And the Noel Freeman mailer that Martha and Stace have discussed.

That last one was interesting in that it was addressed to Tiffany and not me or the both of us, as all the others were. Unlike me, Tiffany has voted in a GOP primary or two in her day, and as such we occasionally get mail or robocalls that are clearly intended for that kind of an audience. Which makes me wonder who the intended audience for Freeman’s piece was. Frankly, if it’s being aimed at soft Rs with a good voting history, that strikes me as a very reasonable strategy. Given that Freeman did not report much cash on hand in his 30 days out report, one wonders how widely this was sent, or if he got a late infusion of cash from somewhere. We’ll know when we see the 8 days out report, I guess. What mail have you received lately, if any?

The HISD Trustee candidates speak

These are short videos – I think Art Rascon’s intros of the candidates take as much time as they get to speak for themselves – but if you’ve not met the HISD Trustee candidates or listened to any of my interviews, here’s a chance to see and hear them from KTRK. First, in District I:

District V:

District IX, where three candidates are challenging incumbent Larry Marshall:

According to School Zone, there will be a full length candidate forum aired on KTRK on Sunday at 11 AM. The forum was sponsored by Parents for Public Schools, and you can read a few highlights at that link. Check ’em out.

Election tidbits for 9/22

More stuff that’s worth a mention.

– The deadline to register to vote in the 2009 election is Monday, October 5. Towards that end, Texans Together will be holding a voter registration drive this Saturday, September 26, at various locations around the city. If you want to participate, please contact Dee at 281-702-7864 or e mail [email protected]

– HISD District I candidate Alma Lara has a new website.

– City Controller candidate Pam Holm has been making robocalls. Personally, I’d advise sending mail now (if you can afford it, which she ought to be able to do), and saving the robocalls for the GOTV effort later. But then no one asked me.

– Along those lines, Peter Brown is making robocalls as well. I know this because there was a voice mail of such a call on my work number this morning. I don’t know how that number got onto anyone’s list. Maybe they were just dialing every number in town.

– Not at all campaign related, but my neighbor Mark Strawn, who was badly injured in a car accident two years ago, has been making huge strides in his physical therapy. His wife Sabrina recently sent out an email asking for support for SIRE, Houston’s therapeutic equestrian center, which has so helped Mark in his recovery. I’ve reproduced the email beneath the fold, and you can click here when you’re done reading it to give them a hand.

Purple Texas writes about Hank Gilbert and his nascent campaign for Governor. Maybe it’s just the city boy in me, but I can’t say I’ve ever felt a longing for a liberal-disguised-as-a-redneck to save us all. Which isn’t to say that Hank couldn’t win next year with that formula. It’s just that I’d support him in spite of his rural roots, not because of them.

– District G candidate Richard Sedita sent out a press release in support of the current efforts to build a stadium east of downtown for the Houston Dynamo.

– The Texas Tribune invites you to take a look inside their office:

– I cannot begin to express how little sympathy I have for poor widdle Rick Perry and that dirty trick that that mean old Senator Hutchison pulled on him. Karma is a remarkable thing, isn’t it?

UPDATE: Phillip says what needs to be said regarding Rick Perry and this incident.


Interview with Alma Lara

Alma Lara

Alma Lara

Moving on to the HISD Trustee races, we start with Alma Lara, who is running for the open HISD Trustee seat in District I. Lara is retired after a 35-year career in HISD in which she was a teacher, principal at Ketelson Elementary School, and Parent Specialist in HISD’s North Central District and East Region. In addition to that, Lara has an extensive history of community involvement. Lara was a candidate in District I prior to Natasha Kamrani’s announcement that she was not running again. Please note that this interview was conducted just before the announcement that Terry Grier was going to be the next HISD Superintendent; subsequent interviews were done after that. Lara lives in the Melrose area.

Download the MP3 file


Karen Derr, At Large #1
Brad Bradford, At Large #4
Stephen Costello, At Large #1
Lane Lewis, District A
Lonnie Allsbrooks, At Large #1
Noel Freeman, At Large #4
Brenda Stardig, District A
Oliver Pennington, District G
Amy Peck, District A
Herman Litt, At Large #1
Natasha Kamrani, HISD Trustee in District I, not running for re-election
Alex Wathen, District A
Robert Kane, District F
Council Member Melissa Noriega, At Large #3
Jeff Downing, District A
Mike Laster, District F
Council Member Jolanda Jones, At Large #5
Mills Worsham, District G
Rick Rodriguez, At Large #1
Council Member Sue Lovell, At Large #2
Carlos Obando, At Large #5
Richard Sedita, District G
Jack Christie, At Large #5
Dexter Handy, District G
George Foulard, District G

Kamrani not running for re-election as HISD trustee

There are now two open HISD Trustee seats up for election this fall as District I incumbent Natasha Kamrani announces that she will step down after this term.

HISD Trustee Natasha Kamrani, who is completing her first term on the school board, has confirmed to me that she will not be seeking re-election. “I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity to impact public education outside the board,” said Kamrani, the former Houston executive director of Teach for America who has ruffled the feathersof the Houston Federation of Teachers during her board tenure.

Alma Lara, the former principal of HISD’s Ketelsen Elementary, has filed to run for Kamrani’s District I seat. Lara has won the HFT’s support but not Kamrani’s. “There’s been some people who’ve expressed interest the seat, and I really hope they will get involved in the race,” Kamrani said. “We definitely need people who put the needs of children above special interests.”

Lara retired from HISD after 35 years in public education. Her campaign Web site highlights HISD’s dropout problem. “I hope to work with the school board to seek alternatives that will help students stay in school,” she says on her Web site. “It will take a collaborative effort with all stakeholders in the Houston community to find programs for creating a ‘Zero Tolerance’ culture to dropouts.”

As I said before, Kamrani is a friend of mine, and I’m sorry to see her depart. I think she did a lot of good work; if she was a feather-ruffler, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ll be doing an interview with her shortly – an exit interview, I suppose – in which we’ll discuss her tenure and what she plans to do next. I also look forward to meeting Ms. Lara and any other candidates for this seat.

HISD trustee fundraising

Yes! One more report on campaign fundraising, this time for HISD Trustees. These reports are online, but I didn’t know where to look for them. Fortunately, School Zone did, and that’s good because the July reports are still in paper form. Here’s what we’ve got:

District I – Natasha Kamrani (has not announced whether she’s running again)
Total contributions: $0
Total expenditures: $900
Money on hand: $10,774.32

District VI – Greg Meyers (seeking re-election)
Total contributions: $23,437.93
Total expenditures: $9,117.85
Money on hand: $17,159.30
Notable contributors: Bob Perry of Perry Homes ($5,000); Greg Meyers Campaign ($2,886.33); Darryl King of The Principle Partnership Group ($1,000); Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson law firm ($1,573.33 in-kind for printing and postage; $998.27 in-kind for event catering); Bracewell & Guiliani PAC ($1,000); Thompson & Horton law firm ($500); Andrews & Kurth PAC ($500), C.C. Lee of STOA Architects ($500); Mary Walker of Molina Walker Architects ($500); James Rice of Rice & Gardner Consultants ($500); Randle Richardson, CEO of Community Education Partners ($500); Perry Radoff, attorney ($500); Corbin Robertson Jr. of Quintana Minerals Corp. ($500); Jackie Wadsworth of Information Management Services ($500); Houston Federation of Teachers PAC ($250); Don McAdams, school board consultant and former HISD board member ($200); Warner Ervin, HISD south region superintendent ($100); Ray Reiner of the Houston Association of School Administrators ($100)

District V – Dianne Johnson (not seeking re-election)
Total contributions: $0
Total expenditures: $2,088.30
Money on hand: $12,430.06

District VII – Harvin Moore (plans to seek re-election)
Total contributions: $0
Total expenditures: $4,977.69
Money on hand: $49,369.17

District IX – Larry Marshall (seeking re-election)
Total contributions: $87,044.75
Total expenditures: $24,062.52
Money on hand: $62,982.23
Notable contributors: Aaron Glenn, former Texans football player and businessman ($5,000); Jason Medlock, business partner with Glenn ($5,000); Emma L. Bullock of Houston ($5,000); Simon Wiltz of Sugar Land ($5,000); Christus Powell of Houston ($5,000); Herbert Fain of Houston ($5,000); Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson law firm ($3,529.76 in in-kind contributions for mailings and catering); DeAndre Sam of Houston ($2,500); Joseph Johnston of Houston ($2,500); David Medford of Missouri City ($2,500); Eric Medford of Sugar Land ($2,500); Mourhaf Sabouni of Missouri City ($2,500); Sharon Medford of Missouri City ($2,500); Andrews & Kurth Texas PAC ($1,000); McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy consultants ($1,000); Randle Richardson, CEO of CEP ($1,000); former state Rep. Borris Miles ($1,000); Bracewell & Guiliani Committee ($1,000); Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins & Mott law firm ($500); Thompson & Horton law firm ($500); Judge John Peavy ($250); Paula Arnold, former HISD board member and bond communications consultant ($250); Don McAdams, former HISD board member and board consultant ($250); Charles Foster of Foster Quan law firm ($250); Billy Reagan, former HISD superintendent ($200); C. C. Lee, architect ($200); Warner Ervin, HISD south region superintendent ($200); Richard Lindsay, HISD’s chief business officer ($100); Kelly Frels, attorney with Bracewell & Giuliani ($100); Judge Zinetta Burney ($75); Willie Burroughs, general manager of HISD’s bond program ($50)

As I said before, the first two races will be the most interesting. I look forward to seeing what District I challenger Alma Lara’s report looks like.

The HISD Trustee races

Most of the electoral action this fall will be for City of Houston races, but there are also five HISD Trustee seats on the ballot, one of which will be open. School Zone reports on the two races that will be the highest profile.

District I: Natasha Kamrani, who is wrapping up her first term, has not announced whether she will seek re-election. Expect word soon. Alma Lara, a former principal in HISD, is planning to run for Kamrani’s seat. She’s filed paperwork naming a campaign treasurer and has a Web site. Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers who had a public spat with Kamrani last year over holding bad teachers accountable, is praising Lara. “She’s a great principal,” Fallon told me. “We had a great relationship with her. I think she has a really good chance. She’s so wired into the community.” Fallon also supported Kamrani’s opponent four years ago.

District V: Dianne Johnson, elected in 2001, is not seeking re-election. “I think eight years is enough,” Johnson told me. “If that’s enough for the president, it ought to be enough time for a board member. It’s probably time to give other people other opportunities. It’s probably time for Dianne to look for other opportunities.” Michael Lunceford, a parent whose children have graduated from HISD, is running to replace her. No one else has filed paperwork yet.

Greg Meyers, Harvin Moore, and Larry Marshall are all running for re-election, and likely won’t face much of a challenge. I live in District I and am friends with Kamrani, but it’s fair to say her time in office has been rather tumultuous. That race will be one to watch whether or not she runs again. Be sure to read the comments on that School Zone post, as Gayle Fallon mixes it up with some of the usual anonymous gripers. As for Dianne Johnson’s to-be-open seat, I know nothing at this point about Michael Lunceford, and found nothing of use via Google. All I can say at this point is I’m sure there will be more candidates.