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Tim Tuggey

Election results: McLeroy loses!

The second-best news of the evening is that wackjob SBOE member Don McLeroy lost to Thomas Ratliff, thus making the state’s worst elected body at least somewhat less dysfunctional.

The board’s balance of power is delicate. Though it’s had ten Republicans and five Democrats serving, seven socially conservative Republicans formed a reliable voting bloc that, with the swing vote of Democratic member Rick Agosto, gave them the power to advance a socially conservative agenda.

That’s over now. Agosto did not seek re-election, and his probable replacement, Democrat Michael Soto, originally set out to challenge him and isn’t likely to take the same positions Agosto took. (Republican Tony Cunningham will run against Soto in the general election, but Cunningham hasn’t filed an campaign finance report since 2006, while Soto’s last report showed him raising $14,000.)

Without Agosto, the social conservative bloc needed both McLeroy and Ken Mercer to survive the election in order to maintain its power. Both races featured incumbent social conservatives versus more mainstream Republican lawyer-lobbyists. Both were expected to be close. One was, one wasn’t.

McLeroy lost by just over one thousand votes against Thomas Ratliff, a lawyer and lobbyist who also happens to be the son of former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff.

The vote tally I see on the SOS Election Night Returns page is Ratliff 56,207, McLeroy 55,368. A recount is possible, but that margin is unlikely to change by more than a handful. No matter what else happens this year, that one election has enabled Texas to take a huge step forward.

The other big SBOE result, which apparently caught the entire political world by surprise – not the only such result for the evening, as you’ll see – was the ouster of longtime Board member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller by some guy no one has ever heard of.

Miller, who has served on the board since 1984, lost to challenger George Clayton, an educator with an unorthodox platform. Clayton only spent $1,788 on the race compared to Miller’s $54,685.


What Clayton’s addition will mean for the board isn’t clear. His platform, according to his website, argues for ending “all punitive measures against teachers resulting from poor student performance on all district and state mandated tests” and for requiring that all curriculum proposals “be approved by a general vote of teachers in a district.”

As for his views on social issues, the traditional flashpoint for the state board, the best clues come from his interview with the Dallas Observer, in which Clayton said: “It’s seems to me you can’t be taught the one [evolution] without the other [creationism]. It’s an impossibility to talk about evolution without mentioning creationism.”

Even the Texas Freedom Network was unprepared for this one. I’m sure we’ll be learning more about him soon.

Elsewhere, Ken Mercer easily defeated Tim Tuggey, so the route to improvement in that district goes through Rebecca Bell-Metereau‘s campaign; mainstream incumbent Republican Bob Craig beat back his wingnut challenger; and there will be a GOP runoff for Cynthia Dunbar’s seat, with Rebecca Osborne unfortunately finishing third. Get to know Judy Jennings, people.

Endorsement watch: Statesman on the SBOE

The Statesman makes some recommendations in SBOE primaries in hopes of getting a better, or at least a slightly less dysfunctional, Board for the coming year.

In the District 5 Republican primary, Tim Tuggey, 54, gets our endorsement. Tuggey, running against incumbent Ken Mercer, is a lawyer and lobbyist from Austin who graduated with honors from the University of Texas School of Law, served as a captain in the U.S. Army and is a product of Texas public schools.

Tuggey brings a level head and financial management experience to the board. It speaks volumes that he has earned the endorsement of business leader Red McCombs and H-E-B. CEO Charles Butt for a campaign that focuses on improving dropout rates, preparing students for college or work after high school and competent oversight of the school fund.

In the District 5 Democratic primary, Rebecca Bell-Metereau, 60, is the best choice. She is running against Daniel Boone, Josiah James Ingalls and Robert Bohmfalk.

Bell-Metereau brings strong skills to the job as a longtime English professor at Texas State University. With a distinguished academic background, experience raising two daughters in San Marcos public schools, high energy and thorough knowledge of the challenges facing public schools, she won’t put politics over children’s welfare.

For District 10, we endorse Republican Rebecca Osborne, 51, a teacher in the Round Rock school district. It would be a refreshing change to have someone on the board who could give a contemporary classroom perspective. In addition to college preparation, she wants schools to offer career and vocational instruction for students who decide to go directly to jobs after high school.


We’re also making an endorsement in the District 9 race that includes Brazos County, home of Texas A&M University. We recommend Thomas Ratliff in the Republican primary.

Ratliff, 42, of Mount Pleasant, a graduate of Texas Tech University with a UT master’s degree, has immersed himself in public school issues, including serving as a room parent for his daughter’s second grade class. He understands the urgency of the task of getting students ready to compete in a global society.

His opponent, incumbent Don McLeroy, 63, is stuck in the past, advocating a back-to-basics curriculum that all but guarantees that Texas students will lag behind their peers. Time to end McLeroy’s tenure.

That’s not even counting McLeroy’s – and Mercer’s – troglodytic views on science, history, and just about everything else. The Trib has a good overview of the SBOE 5 GOP primary as well, and you just can’t help but notice how much this stuff is about politics and grievances for the likes of Mercer and McLeroy and their destructive crew. Getting those two to join their retiring comrade Cynthia Dunbar on the sidelines would be such a huge step forward.

Endorsement watch: ParentPAC for Tim Tuggey

The Texas ParentPAC has gotten itself involved in another Republican SBOE primary, this time on behalf of San Antonio’s Tim Tuggey, who is challenging incumbent Ken Mercer in District 5. Here’s their release:

The bipartisan Texas Parent PAC today announced its endorsement of Tim Tuggey in the Republican primary for District 5 State Board of Education, which includes all or part of 12 counties in Central and South Texas.

“Tim Tuggey will be a partner with parents, educators, and elected school board trustees and an advocate for all schoolchildren,” said Texas Parent PAC chair Carolyn Boyle of Austin.”He has strong leadership skills, an engaging personality, and a conservative and collaborative temperament that will be a real asset on the State Board of Education.”

Texas Parent PAC was created by parents in 2005 with the goal of electing more state leaders who will consistently stand up for public education. A broad base of individuals and business leaders supports the PAC’s bipartisan grassroots campaign efforts.

The 15-member elected State Board of Education is not well-known by voters. The board is responsible for establishing policy, adopting curriculum standards and textbooks, and providing leadership for the state’s public school system. In Texas, 4.7 million students attend public schools on more than 8,300 campuses.

“This election has statewide implications, because the State Board of Education sets policy affecting every child and every public school classroom in Texas,” said Texas Parent PAC board member Pam Meyercord of Dallas. “Tim Tuggey understands there are too many education dictates coming from Austin and Washington, and more local control will help to achieve excellence in public education for all Texas students.”

Texas Parent PAC leaders said Tuggey has a proven record of leadership in three different cities in SBOE District 5. He is well-connected in rural and urban communities and understands their unique needs for education and work force development. For example:

In San Antonio, Tuggey served as chairman of VIA Metropolitan Transit, Leadership San Antonio, and Free Trade Alliance San Antonio, as well as a range of other civic activities.

In Austin, he is managing partner of business law firm Tuggey Rosenthal Pauerstein Sandoloski Agather LLP. The firm also has offices in San Antonio and Washington, D.C.

At Fort Hood in Bell County, Captain Tuggey commanded the 230 men and women in Company A, 54th Signal Battalion, which deployed all over the world to provide tactical communications.

Tuggey describes himself as an “Army brat,” as he followed his parents all over the United States and the world while his father was an Army officer. He graduated from Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi and then received a four-year Army ROTC scholarship to the University of Richmond in Virginia, where he received a bachelor’s degree in English and political science. He later earned a master’s degree in foreign affairs at the University of Virginia and a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Tuggey has three children, Katherine, Chris, and Nora. His wife, Margaret, is a teacher at Akins High School in the Austin ISD.

Texas Parent PAC is endorsing a small and select number of Republican and Democratic candidates statewide. The PAC describes its endorsed candidates as “men and women of integrity, open and responsive to parents, actively involved in their communities, and committed to investing in public education to achieve economic prosperity in Texas.”

Public school supporters are encouraged to visit to find a map of District 5 and persuade their friends and relatives throughout the large district to vote for Tuggey during the early voting period February 16 – 26 and on election day, March 2. Texas Parent PAC is also urging parents to volunteer in the Tuggey campaign and/or donate money and in-kind services.

As I’ve said before, my preferred outcome is for a Democrat to win this seat, and from what I have seen it looks like Rebecca Bell-Metereau is the best candidate for that. But if we don’t get that, then getting a better Republican to replace Mercer is still an improvement. If you or someone you know lives in SBOE District 5 (your voter registration card should indicate this) and are of the Republican persuasion, please check out Tim Tuggey for the primary.

Another SBOE primary fight to watch

I’ve mentioned before that the GOP primary for SBOE District 5 is worth watching, but I didn’t know much about it at that time. This Statesman article helps to fill in the blanks.

The brouhaha over the teaching of evolution in the science curriculum caught the attention of some in the San Antonio business community, said Carri Baker Wells, chairwoman of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

There was a concern that decisions were being made based on ideology rather than sound science, and that affects how prepared Texas students are to compete, said Wells, adding that the chamber does not endorse candidates.

Among [challenger Tim] Tuggey’s givers are some of San Antonio’s biggest names in business, including Red McCombs, the auto magnate; Bartell Zachry, chairman of the construction conglomerate Zachry Group Inc. and former chairman of the Governor’s Business Council; and Charles Butt, president and chief executive officer of H.E. Butt Grocery Co.

“I think that our State Board of Education is somewhere between inept and dysfunctional,” said McCombs, namesake of the University of Texas business school. “The kids are entitled to more than what they’re getting.”

McCombs cites the state’s high dropout rate, in particular, as an indication that the system is broken, and he says [incumbent Ken] Mercer is a part of that system.

“He has had his turn at bat, and I’m ready to put in a new player,” McCombs said.

Obviously, I would prefer to have a Democrat in this seat, but if we can’t have that I’ll be happy with a Republican that won’t be there to do the bidding of the religious right. This race ought to be an interesting test to see which faction within the GOP is stronger.

The DMN on the SBOE

The DMN takes a look at the various State Board of Education races for 2010. Much of this we already know, but two things to note:

Eight of the 15 board seats are on the ballot this year.

Three of those, including McLeroy’s, are held by members of the social conservative faction. Another social conservative running for re-election is Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, who has similarly drawn a strong challenger in the GOP primary, San Antonio lawyer Tim Tuggey. Four Democrats have also filed for the post.


Republican Bob Craig of Lubbock, an incumbent who has often been at odds with the social conservatives, is facing a primary challenge from a former school board chairman in Odessa, Randy Rives, who pushed through a controversial Bible study class and an abstinence-only sex education program in that district.

The Texas Freedom Network elaborates further.

Craig’s primary opponent is Randy Rives (no Web site yet), who served one term on the Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees in Odessa. In 2005 and 2006, Rives pushed through approval of a deeply flawed high school Bible course, with the board choosing class materials from the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. A Texas Freedom Network Education Fund report in 2005 revealed that the National Council’s sloppy curriculum was riddled with factual errors and promoted an almost exclusively fundamentalist Protestant interpretation of the Bible. After local parents sued, school district officials agreed to stop using the curriculum.

Rives also was a key player in having the local school board implement a strict abstinence-only policy on sex education classes in the district. Today Ector County is still struggling to bring down a teen pregnancy rate that is highest in the state and twice the national average.

Craig, a traditional Republican conservative, has been a consensus-seeker on the state board. Sure enough, that has earned him the bitter hostility of far-right extremists who oppose teaching about evolution in science classrooms and have repeatedly attacked curriculum recommendations made by teachers and academic experts (condemned by the far right as “radicals” and “educrats”).

No Democrat filed for the seat. Should Craig lose his bid for re-election to Rives, the state board could move even further to the right.


District 5

Incumbent Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, faces a tough fight in his Republican primary against Tim Tuggey, an Austin attorney and past chair of San Antonio’s VIA Metropolitan Transit agency. Tuggey has the backing of a number of San Antonio heavyweights, including businessmen Red McCombs, Bartell Zachry and David Spencer. Mercer has been a reliable vote for the board’s far-right faction.

Four Democrats have filed for the District 5 seat. Rebecca Bell-Metereau is an English and film professor at Texas State University-San Marcos. Robert Bohmfalk is a mental health case manager from Seguin. Daniel Boone of Canyon Lake is a retired career Air Force officer and a professional psychologist who has taught at the university level. Josiah Ingalls is a machine operator in Austin.

So the good news is that there’s another way for something good to happen, if Mercer gets knocked off in his primary. The bad news is that there is a way for something bad to happen, and that would be if Bob Craig were to lose. And unfortunately, whatever happens in this election, the Board will have already done whatever damage it’s going to do to the social studies textbooks. The best we can hope for is to begin the turnaround. The Sensuous Curmudgeon has more.