[Hall Monitor] Incumbent SAISD Board Members Go All-in on Union Questionnaire

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Patti Radle on Election Day 2018, preparing to lead students to the polls
Patti Radle on Election Day 2018, preparing to lead students to the polls

On February 22 at 5 PM and 6 PM, the two San Antonio ISD board incumbents up for re-election, Patti Radle and Christina Martinez respectively, sat for a screening at the office of San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel (SAISD’s union). They were followed at 7 PM by candidate Darrell Boyce, who is running to replace retiring trustee James Howard.

Radle’s challenger (Jannell Rubio) and two other District 2 candidates sat for screenings on February 21, and three more—Eduardo Torres, Christopher Green, and Chris Castro—would be in the hot seat on February 23 from 10 AM to 1 PM.

All candidates were given questionnaires ahead of the event. Many of the candidates will face tough questions—Chris Castro, running against Martinez, was the principal of Rhodes Middle School when a student was body slammed by campus police, and his handling of the situation was the subject of much scrutiny. Royce Sullivan, running to replace Howard, was given probation in 2012 after a 2010 child endangerment incident—he failed to secure a gun.

However it’s possible that Radle and Martinez will be in the hottest of hot seats for their unequivocal support of SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez, subject of the Alliance’s greatest ire.

Nevertheless, not only did Radle and Martinez stand by the leadership and direction of the district . . . they took the opportunity to reiterate their philosophy and rationale in doing so.

Radle’s questionnaire can be read in full here. Martinez’s is here. (If any other candidates would like their questionnaires annotated and disseminated, they can send them to me.)

I recommend reading the whole things.

However, the following highlights stood out to me as particularly telling. I’ve reported most of Radle’s school board tenure, and all of Martinez’s. These answers most thoroughly reflect what I’ve seen from them so far.

First though, both do want a good relationship with the Alliance. That much is clear. They want their input. They just don’t want it more than they want progress in the district.

Radle has also served on San Antonio city council, and lived for decades in voluntary poverty running a community ministry on the West Side. Her reputation in the community is somewhere between moral compass and patron saint. It’s been unnerving to watch her square off with the union, often with agony on her face. However, her questions reveal a cast-iron resolve and awareness that other board members, interest groups, or the administration may not agree with her.

Patti Radle's answer to questionnaire 3
Patti Radle's answer to questionnaire 10

That all-caps section above is pretty much the closest thing you’re going to see to indignation from Radle. Though the answer below comes in a close second.

Patti Radle questionnaire 21

One of my most memorable moments of school board coverage was a special meeting at 8 PM on a Friday night, to determine the process for replacing Olga Hernandez after her resignation in 2017. Radle passionately wanted a special election to allow the democratic process to work. After a split vote, she pleaded with her fellow board members asking if “there was anything she could say to persuade them,” only to eventually lose the vote (with Steve Lecholop) when Debra Guerrero was persuaded to vote for an appointment with the majority. It was like 10:30 PM before we were out of there.

That appointment, ironically enough, delivered Christina Martinez, who has looked up to Radle since childhood and now sits with her for re-election.

Martinez took the questionnaire as an opportunity to lay out the rationale for decisions, point out some of the data points she felt were inaccurately presented, and took the risk of delivering nuanced arguments.

Christina Martinez questionnaire 5

She hits segregation and white flight right on the nose, which is a bold move for a sitting board member. One that some of us might like to see more of from the dais.

Christina Martinez questionnaire 8
Christina Martinez questionnaire 9

She also gets into the weeds on data, which is also pretty unusual for a political questionnaire. She’s not writing sound bites.

Christina Martinez questionnaire 10

So there you have it.

Originally published as“Incumbent SAISD board members go all-in on union questionnaire,”Hall Monitor, February 22, 2019

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