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

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

North Dallas Gazette logo

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.)

Dallas ISD School Board discusses security measures following Parkland shootings

Dallas ISD School Board discusses security measures following Parkland shootings

North Dallas Gazette logoBy Jazlyn Mercer, NDG Contributing Writer

The Dallas ISD School (Dallas ISD) board met Feb. 22 in their first meeting in the wake of the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. The issue of school safety and security was a primary concern addressed by parents, Dallas ISD staff and the board.

“Our hearts are heavy with our brethren in Broward County, Florida,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa. “Our hearts go out to them.”

Gail Perry, a librarian at Thomas Jefferson High School, speaking on behalf of The National Education Association (NEA) of Dallas addressed the issue of school security during the public forum.

“Columbine changed education in America forever,” Perry said. “There had been school shootings before including here in Dallas, but never had there been a mass shooting in a school before that horrible day.”

Perry asked the board to take security measures to the next level after this recent school shooting asking the board and the Dallas Police Department to work together to ensure each school has the best safety plan.

Superintendent Hinojosa provided an overview of the current and upcoming plans for protecting students and staff. There are no plans to arm Dallas ISD teachers. Arming teachers is a suggestion floated by President Donald Trump following a listening session with students and parents who have lost friends and loved ones in school shootings going back to Columbine and including the recent Parkland tragedy.

Hinojosa addressed the existing security plans for students, applauding the Dallas Police Department (Dallas PD). The Dallas PD provides with 100 sworn peace officers to protect the students of Dallas ISD and to patrol the campuses. Building security has increased in Dallas ISD since the Sandy Hook campus shooting. There are camera systems everywhere, and any visitors to the schools must go through the Raptor check-in system.

“Despite all those safety measures, we cannot legislate behavior,” said Hinojosa. “We need to be vigilant, we need to do everything in our power, and I’m very proud of the people and our principals who share information with us and with each other on these matters.”

Plans include reviewing the campus security plan individually to address their specific security needs, and to look at teacher training for emergency situations. They also want to make sure the campus metal detectors are in good working condition and ensure someone is consistently monitoring them.

“It’s a difficult problem, we can’t make schools perfectly safe, but we’ve got to try to make them safer,” said Dallas ISD Trustee and Board President Dan Micciche.

Dallas ISD Trustee Joyce Foreman: Good news travels fast in District 6

Dallas ISD Trustee Joyce Foreman: Good news travels fast in District 6

North Dallas Gazette logoNORTH DALLAS GAZETTE — Perhaps, the most gratifying part of serving District 6 is celebrating the student and faculty wins along the way. And while countless unheralded victories occur in our classrooms and on our campuses every day, it’s important that we pause to acknowledge the ones that manage to surface to the top.

Dallas ISD Trustee Joyce Foreman, District 6 (Courtesy Photo)

[/media-credit] Dallas ISD Trustee Joyce Foreman, District 6

School counselors are often the unsung heroes in education. Their value is immeasurable, as they provide support to our students and their families, ensuring a healthy and successful learning experience for every child. I’m elated that the tireless efforts of two elementary school counselors in District 6 have been duly noted. Kailee Mitchell, a counselor at Maria Moreno, and Rashunda Mendy, a counselor at Thomas Tolbert, received the Lone Star State Bronze Award from the Lone Star State School Counseling Association. Both counselors were recognized for their excellence in advocacy, leadership, collaboration and systemic change.

Another District 6 big stage win goes by the name of Karina Flores. A student at Clinton P. Russell Elementary School, Flores is among the top 18 Dallas ISD spellers who have advanced to the County Spelling Bee. A standout competitor among 138 students from 77 schools, she will compete for a chance to win more than $50,000 in scholarships and prizes at the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. What a wonderful opportunity for District 6 to unite as we root for the success of our very own.

And speaking of our own, I want to ease the uncertainty that many District 6 families face due to recent changes to the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Dallas ISD is committed to following the law and providing a high quality education to all students regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity, national origin, language, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, or socioeconomic status. Our top priority is to provide a welcoming and protective environment for all students and staff.

Looking Ahead

Eleventh graders who attend a Dallas ISD high school will take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) during the school day on Wednesday, March 7. In preparation, students may access free personalized lessons at All students are encouraged to take advantage of this resource to improve testing performance and best position themselves for admission to top-choice colleges and scholarship opportunities.

Mark Twain Leadership Vanguard is expanding to fourth through eighth grade magnet campus by 2020. The school is currently accepting applications for grades four through six. The application deadline is February 28. I’d like to invite parents to attend the Information Session and Onsite Application Workshop on Wednesday, February 21 to get questions answered and complete an application. The info session and workshop will be held at the Mark Twain campus located at 724 Green Cove Lane, Dallas, Texas 75232.

Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries keynote speaker at MLK Day event

Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries keynote speaker at MLK Day event

North Dallas Gazette logo
NORTH DALLAS GAZETTE — While the nation remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, nearly 50 years after his assassination, former Civil Rights Activist Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. will close out the Urban Specialists MLK Day “Course Correction Conversation” event in Dallas by calling for a new leadership that unifies our nation one neighborhood at a time.

Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. is scheduled to speak Monday evening at MLK Day event in Dallas.

[/media-credit] Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. is scheduled to speak Monday evening at MLK Day event in Dallas.

This event will bring together victims of violence, public figures, lawmakers and the community for an honest, open discussion about the widening divides in America and how we can reunify our country.

“This event exemplifies what Dr. King’s legacy is all about. This movement is so imperative to the African American community because Urban Specialists and Bishop Omar Jahwar are fighting to make just as much an impact, if not greater, on senseless violence as Dr. King did for equality and social justice. Fifty years later, our number one problem is violence,” says Rev. Soaries, former national coordinator of Operation PUSH. “Those who are most effective in stopping violence are those who once inflicted violence, working with locked arms along side of those that have been victims of violence.” Soaries plans to commend the anti-violence leaders for the work they are doing in Dallas, New York, Chicago, Baton Rouge, Baltimore, Atlanta and Indianapolis that will attend this event. He will liken them to the local 1960’s leaders that were peers and colleagues in the Civil Rights Movement.

Urban Specialists (US) leverages the experience of ex-gang members, former offenders, and professionals to reduce gang violence and increase community opportunities in Dallas. Sponsored by Stand Together, this event will provide a safe environment for dialogue in hopes of ending senseless violence and revitalizing citizenship in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Healing begins when we stop shouting at each other and start listening to each other,” said Bishop Omar Jahwar, Founder and CEO of Urban Specialists. “I have learned through my work and experience, it is possible for youth to stay alive and thrive in a hostile environment.”

Rev. Soaries will be the close out speaker of the event. Also participating in the “Course Correction Conversation” will be former NFL player and Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and singer, songwriter and producer Rico Love. The family of the late Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, who was shot several times at close range while held down on the ground by two Baton Rouge Police Department officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana will also attend the event.

For more information and free tickets, please visit