July 2017 campaign finance reports – HISD

We still don’t know what’s happening with city of Houston elections this fall, but there’s plenty of action with HISD Trustee races. You can see all of the candidates who have filed so far and their July finance reports here. I’ve got links to individual reports and summaries of them, so join me below for some highlights.

Elizabeth Santos
Gretchen Himsl
Monica Richart

Kara DeRocha
Sue Deigaard

Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca
Daniel Albert
Robert Lundin

Anne Sung
John Luman

Wanda Adams
Gerry Monroe
Karla Brown
Susan Schafer

Name        Raised    Spent    Loans   On Hand
Santos      13,161    2,037        0     7,845
Himsl       17,685      832      500    17,352
Richart      5,565    5,996    6,197     5,765

DeRocha     17,676    2,006      355    15,669
Deigaard    22,716      769        0    20,381

Vilaseca    14,043      157        0    13,613
Albert           0        0   30,000         0
Lundin      13,480    1,565        0    11,915

Sung        31,660    1,673        0    29,208
Luman            0        0        0       456

Adams            0    6,484        0       421
Monroe           0        0        0         0
Brown            0        0        0         0
Schafer      4,690    2,543        0     2,026

So we have two open seats, in Districts I and V as Anna Eastman and Mike Lunceford are stepping down, one appointed incumbent running for a full term (Flynn Vilaseca), one incumbent who won a 2016 special election running for a full term (Sung), and one regular incumbent running for re-election (Adams). We could have a very different Board next year, or just a slightly different one. That includes all three of the traditionally Republican districts – V, VI, and VII. Interestingly, there is no Republican candidate in District V as yet, and the Republican runnerup in last year’s special election in District VII has apparently been idle so far this year. Daniel Albert is Chief of Staff for District F City Council member Steve Le, so I think it’s safe to say that he’s a Republican. Robert Lundin is a Rice faculty member who has been an HISD teacher and administrator and also opened YES Prep Southwest. I don’t have a guess as to what his politics may be. Whatever the case, I have to assume there will be more of a Republican presence in these races, but it’s starting to get a little late in the cycle.

The next most remarkable thing is Wanda Adams’ report. I’m not sure if it was filled out incorrectly or if she really did raise no money while spending her account almost empty. I don’t know what to make of that.

Otherwise, and putting the weirdness of the Sung/Luman situation aside, it looks like we have some competitive races shaping up. If you didn’t know anything but what is in this table, you might be hard-pressed to tell who’s an incumbent. I know there’s a lot of activity already for 2018, and I feel like we’re in a bit of a holding pattern until we know for sure what the deal is with city races. I suspect there’s a lot more to come in these races. Maybe we’ll see it in the 30-day reports.

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4 Responses to July 2017 campaign finance reports – HISD

  1. Sean Cheben says:

    Please note that I have filed for HISD District V Trustee since your data was pulled. I’m a Republican Precinct Chair, a fiscal conservative, and an HISD volunteer.

  2. Ross says:

    @Sean, what do you mean by “fiscal conservative”? Does that mean you want to cut spending no matter what the impact is, or do you mean you understand that it costs a certain amount to fund schools, and that we need to pay that cost, even if it seems high to some folks, while being careful not to overspend?

  3. Sean Cheben says:

    @Ross, by “fiscal conservative”, I mean that we need to focus the district’s limited resources on its core mission (educating kids in the classroom so they can succeed in life after graduation), we need to understand the tangible impacts on student performance (supported by data) associated with each dollar the district spends, and we need a responsibly balanced budget that leaves the district in good financial shape so it can continue serving Houston for years to come. I’m not in favor of cutting blindly without reference to student outcomes. I look forward to discussing specifics as the campaign ramps up!

  4. Ross says:

    @Sean, I suggest you download the detailed HISD budget and see just what the money goes to. Overall, HISD does a far better job than most people think, especially given the demographics. There are no sports palaces in HISD, and I haven’t’ seen enough wasted spending to make any noticeable difference in tax rates.

    Keep in mind that the district has 200,000+ students, and something like 30,000+ employees. It takes a certain number of people to run an organization that size, just to pay the bills, do the payroll, and to comply with the State and Federal reporting requirements. I hear complaints about how much the Superintendent gets paid, or how much the CFO gets paid, but those complaints come from people who have no clue how much someone who runs an organization with a $2 billion+ budget makes.

    Want to improve outcomes at those schools that have been in the news lately? It’s going to require more money, just to overcome the inertia created by parents who don’t care about education, and who do nothing to help their children succeed. Almost every teacher I’ve met in an HISD school has been motivated and passionate about their job. They just have a hard time succeeding when they get no support from parents, and are blamed for poor outcomes they lack the resources to influence.

    If you look at the check register that is on the HISD website, there will be expenditures that seem out of line. All of those I have requested an explanation for have been for student organization payments, which State law requires be made by HISD, apparently to keep Mrs. Smith, the parent sponsor, from repeating the dreadful embezzlement episode of a few years ago.

    Be careful which “data” you use to test outcomes. It can’t always be taken at face value.

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