The future direction of cities and schools are at stake in upcoming May elections

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By David Wilfong, NDG Contributing Writer

Voters are heading to the polls locally twice in the month of May. First up is the elections on May 5 for several city council and school board seats in Dallas and surrounding cities. Then on May 22 voters will select the final winners in runoff races from the March 6 primaries including governor and congressional seats. NDG will spotlight those races in our upcoming edition.

Dallas ISD School Board Trustee, District 9

The race to represent District 9 on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees features incumbent Bernadette Nutall facing three challengers in Ona Marie Hendricks, Justin Henry and Edward Turner.

Nutall, a graduate of Sam Houston State University, is the co-founder and executive director Circle of Support an organization offering academic and enrichment summer learning program. She touts her achievements to secure funding for four campuses and sponsored initiatives such as  college tours and the Lincoln Culinary Arts program.

Hendricks is a grant writing consultant and entrepreneur. She has served as the Vice President of TCW Executive Board, and as the Ambassador for Good Samaritans of Garland Food Pantry.  She is an active advocate on issues ranging from youth awareness, parental engagement, domestic violence tasks force, anti-racism, and volunteered with Dallas ISD. Hendricks has previously run for offices with the county and school board.

Henry is a former math teacher in Los Angeles, who later went to law school before returning to Dallas eight years ago. Key issues outlined in his campaign include early childhood education, racial equity, improving how the district’s teachers are recruited, mentored and rewarded. Henry believes community engagement is vital to closing the gap between the classroom and the student’s home.

Turner is a native of South Dallas and graduate of Texas Southern University with a degree in Finance.  After seeing the closure of four community schools, Turner decided to leave a career in finance and became a community organizer with a focus on developing and encouraging parental involvement. His focus is early childhood development, community engagement, better preparing students for college or the workforce, and closing the pipeline to prison.

Carrollton City Council

The easiest choice for voters in Carrollton comes in the Place 5 race, as incumbent Glen Blanscet is running unopposed. Blanscet is currently serving as mayor pro tem, and has been on the city council since 2015. He is a former general counsel for Atmos Energy, and subsequently served as a Baptist minister.

In Place 1 there is a three-way contest for the council position; including incumbent James Lawrence, along with challengers Therese Beckley and Steve Babick. Lawrence, a native of California, has experience in the Army Reserve and works in sales management. Currently he serves on the Audit/Finance Subcommittee and is a liaison for two advisory committees. He was first elected to the council in 2015.

Beckley has lived in Carrollton for 47 years according to her filing for candidacy. Information on Beckley is hard to find as she has no campaign website, and has declined to respond to recent media requests for information.

Babick arrived in Carrollton in 1992. As a Chief Financial Officer, Babick describes himself as “a finance guy” and sees himself as someone qualified to “dig into the numbers” on behalf of the city. Babick served on the Carrollton City Council from 2014-17 before falling short in a runoff race for Mayor.

Place 3 also features three candidates; with Zul Mohamed, Richard Fleming and Pat Cochran vying for the seat.

Mohamed is the CEO of a web design and digital marketing agency and holds a BA in economics from the University of North Texas. Being successful in efforts to thwart a proposed hotel construction project, he was inspired to further his public service and sees himself as a “fresh face” to represent the shifting demographics of the city.

Fleming comes to the race with experience on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD school board, where he was the first African-American board member and had to fight a legal action in order to be seated. He is the CEO of a tax advisory and consulting firm, and says he wants to make Carrollton more “business friendly” and eliminate inconsistencies between the council and planning and zoning.

Cochran is a real estate agent and business owner with additional experience as an art director in Old Downtown’s Plaza Arts Center and community volunteer. She describes herself as a “community builder.” As a bi-racial military child, she says the ability to “rise above the noise,” work past differences and value diversity is one of the keys to her success.

In Place 7, incumbent Deputy Mayor Pro Tem John Sutter is facing challenger Austin Stroh.

Sutter, a 36-year resident of Carrollton who came to Texas from Georgia for college, is a licensed risk management assessor and insurance agent. He was first elected to the city council in 2015, and currently sits on the Audit/Finance subcommittee and is a liaison to three community committees. He is also president of a national youth sports league and a board member of US Soccer.

Stroh is an activist candidate whose political aspirations stem from arrests during the Democracy Spring protests. He sees cost of living, racial inequality and a closed system of city board participation as his top three issues. He works as a customer and application support professional with a BS in Computer Science ad devotes numerous hours to volunteer efforts.

Irving City Council

The Place 6 election for the Irving City Council has two candidates – Shayan Elahi and Albert Zapanta – facing off for an open seat.

Elahi is an attorney and a legal expert who has been featured on numerous TV news outlets. His top priorities are protecting diverse communities, funding police to fight crime, and “smart growth policies” to bring more jobs and retail to Irving.

Zapanta is a business, Vietnam veteran and has served as the president or president of numerous business and cultural organizations, and board member of the Irving Symphony Orchestra Association. His top priorities are infrastructure, water and flood control and transportation and land use.

Irving School Board

The Irving ISD school board race in District 4 is a three way race with Sanko S. Prioleau, Nuzhat Hye and Kendrick Paul Perry.

Prioleau has more than a decade of service with the District Improvement Committee and has served as a student tutor, according to a Youtube video recorded for a previous school board race. Information is difficult to find on his current school board run.

Perry is a fixed income specialist for a major brokerage firm, with more than 20 years of experience in financial customer service. He sees this financial experience as being key to serving the district effectively as a trustee. He is a parent of two children, one of which is in college after attending all her years at Irving ISD.

Hye has 35 years of experience in education; having been a teacher, principal and founding several educational institutions. She moved to Irving in 1989 and has witnessed the city’s growth over the ensuing years. College readiness and parental engagement are her key priorities for the district.

Early voting in the joint election for cities and schools has begun and is underway until May 1. Election Day is May 5.

(Editor’s Note: See more coverage of Hye’s campaign from NDG staff writer Rachel Hawkin’s visit with the candidate on April 21.)

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