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Seven residents vie for AISD seats

Monday, October 24, 2016 by Courtney Griffin

Today marks the first day of early voting, and the Austin Independent School District board of trustees has five seats up for grabs, with seven residents vying for spots. However, only two seats are being contested.

Cindy Anderson and David Quintanilla both filed for Gina Hinojosa’s seat, at-large position eight. Hinojosa held the at-large seat beginning in November 2012 and served as board president from January to December 2015. After winning the Democratic nomination for the Texas House of Representative’s District 49 seat, she decided not to seek re-election.

Anderson, 46, is a mother of three who has lived in Austin for the past 10 years. Anderson, who considers her involvement with AISD to be her full-time job, has spent nearly a decade serving on a number of campus and district parent-teacher associations as well as AISD committees. Starting in 2011, Anderson has spent five years as an executive board member of the Austin Council of PTAs, which coordinates leadership training, advocacy initiatives, scholarships and other efforts among the district’s estimated 16,000 campus-level parent-teacher association members. She also served on the district’s boundary committee, strategic planning committee and budget finance committee – just to name a few. In addition, she was a part of Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, which successfully lobbied during the 82nd legislative session for decreased standardized testing.

Anderson said her time spent on AISD’s numerous committees has allowed her to find where the flexibility is within the system and to understand what solutions would look like on the campus level.

However, despite her experience, it was her opponent, Quintanilla, who received the endorsement from Education Austin, the AISD teacher’s union. Quintanilla also received endorsements from Hinojosa and many other area Democratic organizations. Quintanilla, 36, is a partner and the chief financial officer for several Austin-area Serranos Tex-Mex restaurants and the co-owner of Cavanaugh Quintanilla PLLC, a local law firm specializing in wills and estate planning as well as business and real estate law. Quintanilla, who himself attended AISD schools, has three children who are currently attending district schools.

For the past eight years, Quintanilla has been on the board of directors for the Council on At-Risk Youth, which works exclusively with students who are referred to it by AISD. CARY’s aim is to help break the school-to-prison pipeline, Quintanilla said. He has also served eight years as a board member for Marathon Kids, which encourages healthy eating and activity among Austin-area youth.

Quintanilla said one of his proudest accomplishments was working with AISD, city and county officials to get several thousand dollars in funding for CARY in 2014-2015. It was a tense time when the future of the organization was uncertain, he said.

As for his own campaign’s financing, Quintanilla has received the largest amount of campaign donations, at $48,050. The fund is largely made up of contributions from residents of Austin and the greater area, but it also includes donations from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio residents as well as others. In addition, Quintanilla took out an $8,000 loan to help finance his campaign.

While Anderson has raised considerably less in campaign donations, about $10,000 total, her campaign fund nearly matches Quintanilla’s after figuring in a $35,000 loan she has used to help finance her race.

District 2, which is largely made up of the east and southeast areas of Austin, including Eastside Memorial High School, is the only other contested race, with Adolphus “Andy” Anderson challenging incumbent Jayme Mathias.

Mathias, 44, has held the seat since November 2012. A pastor at Holy Family American Catholic Church, Mathias has served as the board’s secretary and currently chairs the board’s calendar committee. Mathias successfully spearheaded the fight to end the district’s contract with IDEA Public Schools. He also successfully pushed multiple times to increase AISD teacher salaries and the district’s minimum wage. Mathias has raised an estimated $14,000 in political contributions and also received Education Austin’s endorsement.

Andy Anderson, who did not return the Austin Monitor‘s requests for an interview, is an IT consultant and manager for the Internal Revenue Service. He has served on multiple district committees, including the Boundary Advis­ory Committee, the Budget & Finance Advis­ory Committee and most recently the District Advisory Council (as co-chair). He has raised no money in political contributions.

Uncontested seats include District 3, District 5 and District 7. District 3 Trustee Ann Teich, whose district includes Lanier High School, has held office since November 2012, as has District 5 Trustee Amber Elenz, whose district includes Austin High School. District 7 Trustee Yasmin Wagner, whose district includes Bowie High School, has held office since September 2015. Wagner was was appointed after Trustee Robert Schneider passed away.

Photo by Eric Hersman made available through a Creative Commons license.

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