Dallas Texas – As the early voting phase commences this week, all eyes are on the intense competition for the highly sought-after seat on the Dallas Independent School District’s (DISD) board, notably one of the costliest in the district. The candidates in contention, Sarah Weinberg, a veteran advocate of education, and Jimmy Tran, a seasoned entrepreneur, have been drawn into a gripping contest following a closely fought three-way race earlier this month.
The vacancy was borne out of an announcement made in February by the incumbent Dustin Marshall. After dedicating approximately seven years to his role as a DISD trustee, Marshall declared his intention to relinquish his position. The area the successor will represent exhibits a unique doughnut-like geography, encompassing a substantial swath of near-east and North Dallas.
In terms of responsibilities, the forthcoming trustee will be tasked with leading the district amidst complex and evolving challenges. Notably, they must confront the lingering repercussions of the pandemic, endeavour to fill the gaps in faculty caused by a widespread teacher shortage, and ensure the continual safety of the district’s students. This position is no small undertaking, for Texas’s second-largest school district has proven to be a demanding landscape for educational administration.
The trustee will serve on a nine-member board, which has the hefty responsibility of managing a budget that borders $2 billion. It is essential to note that this budget is allocated towards the educational needs of nearly 140,000 students. The board also shoulders the obligation to prioritize academic programs and delineate legislative priorities, thereby shaping the district’s future direction.
The May 6th electoral contest showcased the competition’s closeness, with Tran garnering close to 40% of the votes, while Weinberg trailed slightly with about 37%. However, this contest is far from over, as a runoff is triggered when no candidate manages to exceed the 50% threshold. Thus, the race for the prized DISD board seat, to be decided on June 10th, remains an unpredictable and suspense-filled affair.
It’s all about Dallas ISD students, they are top priority for both candidates
In the event of a victorious run, Weinberg has expressed a firm commitment to place the emphasis on student outcomes, with a specific interest in bolstering literacy rates among students.
“I am interested in making sure … our kids are literate, numerate, critical thinkers and that we are effectively and efficiently allocating our dollars to do that,” she said.
Significant support has been extended towards Weinberg’s campaign, notably from the incumbent, Dustin Marshall. Marshall, showcasing his faith in Weinberg, endorsed her and made a substantial contribution of $25,000 to her campaign. According to campaign finance reports, by late April, Weinberg’s campaign had successfully accumulated a remarkable sum exceeding $312,000.
Weinberg’s campaign has not only captured the attention of the education sector but also enticed some notable figures in Dallas’ philanthropy and business circles. Among her supporters are personalities such as Nancy Perot and the city’s former Mayor, Mike Rawlings, both of whom have thrown their weight behind her candidacy.
Emphasizing her suitability for the challenging role, Weinberg underscored the diverse experiences she brings to the table. She highlighted her credentials, encompassing her tenure as a businesswoman, a volunteer, and a board member on various other organizations. She contends that this eclectic mix of experiences renders her uniquely qualified to assume the demanding role of a DISD trustee.
Dallas ISD students’ safety in the focus
Expressing a profound desire to become an ardent champion for Dallas Independent School District (DISD) families and students, Tran has boldly positioned himself at the forefront of the electoral race. His vision, brimming with dedication and perseverance, is guided by the crucial objectives of fostering student safety and enhancing academic outcomes. In particular, Tran’s focus is riveted on the pressing need to elevate third-grade reading proficiency, a key indicator that he identifies as a significant harbinger of both academic and life success.
Firmly embedded in the heart of the DISD community, Tran’s personal stake in the matter is underscored by his parental status – he is the proud father of three children who are currently enrolled in the district’s schools. As such, his personal investment reaches far beyond mere policy interests, creating a resonating sense of “skin in the game”.
The momentum of his campaign is evidenced by the notable endorsements Tran has secured, which emanate from distinguished corners of the city’s civic landscape. Among those who have pledged their support are Gary Griffith and Chris Luna, illustrious City Council veterans. Adding to this assemblage of support, community organizations like the Sunrise Movement Dallas Youth have also publicly voiced their approval of Tran’s candidacy.
Illustrating his commitment to the city’s broader civic framework, Tran holds influential positions on various boards and committees. A noteworthy example is his membership in the city’s Economic Development Corporation, where he endeavors to drive progress and prosperity for all Dallas residents.
Fueling his campaign is a sizable war chest of over $147,000 in contributions, a testament to the breadth and depth of his support across the Dallas community. Tran confirmed this figure in a recent statement, highlighting the financial backing behind his potent campaign.
Meanwhile, in the closely fought electoral battle, Kevin Malonson, who initially surfaced as the third contender, was unable to secure his place in the runoff. Currently the executive director of Teach Plus Texas, a nonprofit with a focus on education policy reform, Malonson has been vocally critical of the financial dynamics in District 2’s political arena. He has referred to the excessive funds candidates must amass for a successful campaign as “obscene,” revealing in a previous statement that his own fundraising efforts had accumulated approximately $75,000.