Education

Campaign season isn’t over yet. This school board is drawing candidates to 2019 races

Trustee Judy Needham represents District 5, which includes families who attend Tanglewood Elementary.
Trustee Judy Needham represents District 5, which includes families who attend Tanglewood Elementary. rmallison@star-telegram.com

Election season for Fort Worth school board has begun as two incumbents announce they won’t seek re-election and some candidates announce political campaigns months before officially filing paperwork.

Next spring, four seats are up for election on the nine-member board. Two trustees — Judy Needham and Ann Sutherland — will not seek re-election for seats to District 5 and 6, respectively. That dynamic has spurred interest among candidates and potential candidates.

Meanwhile, Tobi Jackson, who serves as school board president, said she will run for her District 2 post again. Christene Moss, who represents District 3, said she has not made a decision about the election yet.

Jackson said the board loses much institutional knowledge with the exits of Needham and Sutherland.

“They are both innovative and they are both smart,” Jackson said, adding that the unpaid post requires a commitment to children.

”You have to love what you do to serve on the school board,” Jackson said.

Not seeking re-election

Needham has served on the school board since 1996 while Sutherland has served two terms since being elected in 2010.

“I have been very fortunate to represent children for the past 23 years, but it is time for someone else to represent this district,” Needham said. “I’m very grateful to the voters for giving me the opportunity to serve. My life has been really blessed.”

Needham said she is proud of the passage of the 2017 bond program, which includes a new elementary school to ease overcrowding at Tanglewood Elementary. She is also proud of being involved in the hiring of Superintendent Kent Scribner and academic gains at the Leadership Academy at Como. She said her post allowed her to meet many dedicated educators.

“I never cease to be amazed to see how many great teachers we have and how fortunate we are,” Needham said.

Sutherland said she won’t serve on the board, but expects to continue to be involved in schools.

“I probably will not be completely separated from affairs of the school district, but I do not plan to take as active a role as I have while I was an elected official,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland said she has been approached about her post by at least three potential candidates.

Campaigns underway

The school board oversees the management of the 86,000-student district. The seats for the Fort Worth school board are 4-year terms. Official filing for the elections have not started yet, but already Needham endorsed one of two candidates who told the Star-Telegram they are seeking the District 5 seat.

Needham endorsed Carin “CJ” Evans who announced her candidacy in a press release Monday.

“This has been in the works for quite some time on my end,” Evans said, adding that she has been learning about the district inner workings through several advisory roles.

Evans, an attorney, has four children in the district.

“As a community, we have an important obligation to provide our children with the innovative academic programs they need to meet the challenges of the future,” Evans said in a press release.

Carla Morton, a pediatric neuropsychologist and parent of two Tanglewood students, has also announced her intent to seek Needham’s post. Morton recently ran as a Democrat for State Board of Education District 11. Republican Pat Hardy, a longtime educator, was re-elected to that state board last week.

Morton said last week she filled out paperwork to move her campaign treasurer from the state election to the race for Place 5 on the school board. She said she remains interested in public education and wants to focus on special education issues.

“It’s been something that I have been looking at for months,” Morton said.

Morton said interest in the political process remains high among people who became involved in politics for the midterm elections and in the U.S. Senate race between Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

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