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Linda Toyota

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.

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.

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.

Interview with Linda Toyota

Linda Toyota

Linda Toyota

Completing the series of HISD Trustee candidate interviews for District I, today we have a conversation with Linda Toyota. Toyota is currently the Chief Development Officer at YWCA Greater Houston, and has been the Sr. Vice President of Development at the Houston Technology Center and the Development Officer at the Holocaust Museum Houston, among many other things. Toyota received a Masters of Education at the University of Houston in 1986. She is a resident of the Heights.

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
Alma Lara, HISD Trustee District I
Anna Eastman, HISD Trustee District I

Three candidates so far for HISD Trustee in District I

We know that Natasha Kamrani, the incumbent Trustee in HISD District I is not running for re-election. One candidate to replace her is Alma Lara, who was in the race before Kamrani announced that she was stepping down. According to School Zone, there are now three candidates for Trustee in District I, for which the filing deadline is also Wednesday, September 2 at 5 PM. One of the others is Linda Toyota, who is the Chief Development Officer for the YWCA of Greater Houston. The other is Anna Eastman, who sent out the following email about her candidacy over the weekend:

Dear Friends,

I have decided to run for HISD Board of Education Trustee for District 1. Incumbent Natasha Kamrani has announced that she will not be running again this fall. Each of you know my commitment to public schools in Houston and my fundamental belief that every child deserves the opportunity to receive an excellent public education. I have been proud to send my own children to HISD schools and have had the privilege of knowing many amazing teachers and faculty who are willing to work tirelessly for their students’ success.

I know that there is no magic bullet or quick and easy solution to the challenges inherent to a large urban district such as HISD, and I will commit to educate myself, listen to you and build alliances to make excellent, well-rounded public education a reality for all of our children. Those of you who have worked or interacted with me over the years know me to be transparent, sincere and passionate about the importance of public schools. While I always seek to build consensus in my various leadership roles in our neighborhood schools, I’ve never been afraid to take an unpopular stand when it was best for all children. I feel strongly that is essential to close the achievement gap, insist that every child functions at or above grade level and graduates college-ready.

Is there a sweeter sound than the laughter of recognition from your child who suddenly “gets it” while reading? All children deserve our best efforts to ensure that they get it, because they are receiving the best public education possible. Every parent should experience the full heart of knowing their children are getting our very best.

I am humbled and honored that so many have encouraged me to run and will look to you for guidance and input throughout this process. I would be deeply grateful if you can join me in this effort by making a donation to my campaign, hosting a coffee or gathering so that I can meet your neighbors and discuss my vision with you all and, most importantly, voting for me on Tuesday, November 3.

I met Eastman last week at an event for parents of new students at Travis Elementary after she contacted me to tell me she was running for the HISD board; she has kids at Travis and has been active in its PTA. she doesn’t have a website up yet but tells me she will have one up this week. In the meantime, you can see her Facebook page here. I will be publishing interviews with Lara and Eastman next week.

As for Toyota, I’d heard there was another candidate some time ago, but hadn’t heard anything more than that before now. I’ll try to track her down for an interview as well. For what it’s worth, one of the things I found while Googling around was that she made a $2300 contribution to Rudy Giuliani’s Presidential campaign last year. Eastman was an Obama donor and campaign volunteer. I didn’t find any contributions made by Lara, but she has received several endorsements from Democratic officials and groups.