A son of Mexican immigrants and graduate of Fort Worth Paschal will be newest member of the Fort Worth school board.
Anael Luebanos, who beat Jason Brown for the District 8 seat, will join incumbents T.A. Sims, Ashley Paz and Norman Robbins — all of whom won their seats in Saturday’s election.
“I feel good,” said Luebanos, adding that he is ready to get to work.
Sims won his ninth consecutive election Saturday with 70 percent of the votes with 18 of 18 precincts reporting. He was challenged by youth advocate and pastor Johnny Cook-Muhammad, who trailed with about 30 percent, according to unofficial election results.
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Sims, 79, took a lead with early votes tallied.
“That’s my normal,” said Sims, a retired pharmacist who has served on the school board since 1983 when he filled an unexpired term.
“Every time I run, I work very hard because I know how important it is for our children,” Sims said.
Paz beat challenger Pilar Candia, 58 percent to about 42 percent with all 22 precincts reporting. Robbins beat challenger Michael Ryan 53 percent to 47 percent.
Luebanos, 32, won his first election with 58 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results. Brown took 42 percent of the votes. The race between the political newcomers was close at one point — there was an 89-vote difference between Brown and Luebanos at about 9:20 p.m.
Luebanos and Brown, 40, were vying for the post vacated by Trustee Matthew Avila. Avila didn’t seek re-election in District 8, which includes Paschal High School, South Hills Elementary and Rosemont Middle.
Luebanos, who monitored election results from a computer at his home, said he knocked on more than 8,000 doors to sway voters. He shared with constituents his life story. He was born in Fort Worth — the son of Mexican immigrants. The family moved back to Mexico, but decided Luebanos should return to Fort Worth at age 15 to improve his future opportunities.
Luebanos, who bagged groceries while attending classes at Paschal, said teachers helped him work toward a higher education. He said his biography appeared to resonate with voters.
“That is the same story of about 60 percent of the students,” Luebanos said, who is an accountant for Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth.
Eight candidates competed for four seats on the Fort Worth school board. Improving poor performing schools and allowing Superintendent Kent Scribner to do his job, from hiring staff to protecting LGBT students, are among the issues that have surfaced during the campaign.
The seats for the Fort Worth school board are 4-year terms in Districts 4, 7, 8 and 9. There is no election for the District 1 post because no one filed to run against the incumbent, board President Jacinto “Cinto” Ramos Jr.
The race between incumbent Paz and Candia drew attention on social media, on which supporters for each debated the merits of the candidates on Facebook. The exchanges grew more intense as Election Day neared with supporters for each questioning political fliers deemed negative by each camp.
“We have done the best to stay positive and stay focused on the issues,” Paz said Saturday evening after spending much of the day urging voters to the polls.
Candia said that despite a flurry of negative mailers that emerged on the eve of Election Day, she tried to stay positive.
“This campaign has been about the kids,” Candia said.
District 9 stretches from the Near Southside through downtown Fort Worth and winds its way north through the Riverside neighborhood into parts of the Diamond Hill pyramid. The district includes Carter-Riverside and Trimble Tech high schools. Signs of both candidates were visible on lawns and businesses throughout District 9, where a focus on struggling schools and the role of trustees in district operations were top issues.
Sims, who was first elected to the board in 1983, said he wanted to continue to serve District 4 so he can see the completion of several pending school improvement projects, including converting the historic I.M. Terrell High School to a special interest campus that includes visual and performing arts and science, technology, engineering and math academies.
Sims said he spent the day campaigning door-to-door and at polling sites.
“I always feel good,” Sims said. “This is no different than the other nine times I have run.”
Cook-Muhammad said he too worked the polls Saturday. His main political message was to support young people who struggle understanding the need to continue their education.
“I talked to the people as they went in and asked for their support,” Cook-Muhammad said.
In District 7, incumbent Robbins, a 69-year-old realtor, was challenged by 65-year-old Ryan, a retired educator. Improving schools in west Fort Worth and Benbrook was among key issues the candidates addressed.
This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.