Early voting in local elections started Monday, and there are two candidates running for the DISD District 7 seat, which includes Oak Cliff. One candidate, Olegario Estrada, dropped out of the race due to a death in the family, but his name is still on the ballot.

That leaves Eric Cowan, a hotel accounting manager, and Louis Trujillo, an insurance agent, vying in the May 8 election.

We asked each candidate the same five questions. Check out some of their answers after the jump, and we’ll post more later this week.

Oak Cliff is home to some of the worst public high schools in the nation. Why do you think that is, and how can you work to change that?

Louis Trujillo: Texas schools as a whole rank in the bottom half compared to the rest of the nation. This is certainly of great concern to all. Many factors have gotten us to where we are today, but I think it’s important to focus more on how to fix the problem areas rather than the ever elusive “why”. Undoubtedly, there is no “quick fix”, but I believe attacking the largest area of concern, being the budget, is definitely a place to start. I believe if we can resolve the budget crisis, many of the other areas will follow suit. Resolving budgetary problems will enable DISD to re-institute or simply institute much needed auxiliary programs which will get us closer to the goal of ensuring that all students receive an adequate education who will graduate high school fully prepared to meet the demands of a higher education.

Eric Cowan: First, I want to say that Oak Cliff is home to top public high schools in the nation as well.  The failures in our high schools are the result of many things including a lack of good educational foundation from prior years.  It also is the result of a lack of involvement from parents/guardians as well as teachers and administrators who work together effectively to make the learning environment come alive for our children.  If our children know we are invested in their educations through their schools and at home, they are far less likely to fail.  

We must help our parents/guardians to be more involved until our children graduate.  I believe more required parent universities will help our students by teaching our parents/guardians how they should be involved and what they should expect from our children.  

We must work with teachers and administrators to help them stay enthused about working with our children.  They must stay energized and innovative if they are to inspire our children to stay energized and innovative about their educations.  

We must make sure our children are reading on grade level from the beginning of their educational careers.  If they can read well, they can learn all subjects well.   
Finally, the Texas Legislature has provided a tool for our parents/guardians to work with teachers and administrators to address individual campus needs.  Site”

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