The SBOE is a statewide agency that sets curriculum standards, reviews instructional material, establishes graduation requirements, and oversees the permanent school fund for the state’s public schools, among other duties.
While SBOE members are generally elected to four-year terms, seven will be selected for two-year terms due to redistricting and then serve four-year staggered terms thereafter.
Each district is drawn to include 1.8 million constituents, and the chair of the board is named by the governor.
Regardless of how Tuesday goes, the SBOE will see a lot of new incoming faces.
Among the districts posed to gain new representation are two that saw Republican incumbents defeated in their primaries. Aaron Kinsey bested Jay Johnson for the District 15 nomination, and Evelyn Brooks defeated incumbent Sue Melton-Malone for the District 14 nomination.
While Kinsey is unopposed going into the general election, Brooks will face Democrat Tracy Fisher but is in a district that heavily favors Republicans.
What The Texas Partisan Index Shows
The Texan’s Texas Partisan Index (TPI) is calculated with election results data obtained from the Texas Legislative Council, and identifies each district’s median percentage of votes for Republicans as compared to Democrats as shown by how the districts voted in the 2018 and 2020 general elections.
The index shows that of the 15 SBOE districts, six favor Democrats and nine favor Republicans. However, three Democrats hold the most vulnerable seats.
The Three Most Vulnerable Races
All three of the SBOE’s most exposed seats in this election have two things in common: they have Democratic incumbents, and they include portions of the state’s southern border with Mexico.
With incumbent Democrat Ruben Cortez having unsuccessfully run in the March primary for the Texas House of Representatives, the Republican and Democratic nominees for District 2 are competing for an open seat.
Republican LJ Francis will face Democrat Victor Perez.
Francis, who is from Corpus Christi, is a former educator, holds a master’s in civil engineering and is a Ph.D. candidate at A&M University at Kingsville.
Perez is a lifelong native of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo area, and in addition to being a former city council member and school board member, holds a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Texas.
The TPI rating gives Democrats an advantage of D-52%.
First elected to the SBOE in 2012, incumbent Democrat Marisa B. Perez-Diaz was the youngest person to be elected to a state board of education at that time. She is now in her third term in office.
Perez-Diaz holds a master’s degree in educational leadership as well as a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Texas.
She is facing Republican challenger Ken Morrow from Gonzales.
Morrow attended the University of Texas, was the director of Grace Christian Academy in Gonzales, and presently serves on the city’s economic development board.
The TPI places the district at D-55%.
The last district falling within vulnerable margins is District 1, which encompasses a vast portion of the southern border, and is one of several races without an incumbent this election.
Democrat Melissa Ortega is facing Republican Michael Stevens for the seat.
A lifelong El Paso resident, Ortega is a full-time faculty member at the University of Texas at El Paso, where she works as both a dissertation coordinator and college instructor in the women’s and gender studies department. Ortega holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and earned a Ph.D. in teaching, learning, and culture after studying transnational feminism in Sweden.
Her challenger Stevens holds a bachelor’s degree in English, as well as a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in education from Northcentral University. Additionally, Stevens is a minister at his church Hope Center, and is the regional director for the children’s ministries for the United Pentecostal Church International.
The TPI rating places the district as favoring Democrats at D-58%.
Who Is On The Ballot?
The following is a list of Republican and Democratic candidates running in contested races in the November general election for the SBOE, according to the Texas Secretary of State.
- Republican: Michael “Travis” Stevens
- Democrat: Melissa N. Ortega
- Republican: LJ Francis
- Democrat: Victor Perez
- Democrat: Marissa B. Perez-Diaz*
- Republican: Ken Morrow
- Democrat: Rebecca Bell-Metereau*
- Republican: Perla Munoz Hopkins
- Republican: Will Hickman*
- Democrat: Michelle Palmer
- Republican: Julie Pickren
- Democrat Dan Hochman
- Republican: Andrew Young*
- Libertarian: Rhett Rosenquest Smith
- Republican: Patricia “Pat” Hardy*
- Democrat: Luis Miguel Sifuentes
- Republican: Pam Little*
- Democrat: Alex Cornwallis
- Republican: Kathryn Monette
- Democrat: Aicha Davis
- Republican: Evelyn Brooks
- Democrat: Tracy Fisher
* denotes an incumbent.
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Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.