Image courtesy of Dallas Kids First

Dallas Kids First, a political action committee that has thrown more than $200,000 behind its favored candidates in Dallas ISD trustee elections since its creation in 2012, endorsed two of the four challengers in District 9, which covers parts of East and South Dallas.

“Dallas Kids First supports a vote for change in school board leadership via a dual endorsement, empowering voters to support one of two strong candidates suited for leadership,” reads the PAC press release, endorsing both Justin Henry and Ed Turner.

Henry is a lawyer who formerly taught middle school in South Los Angeles. Though he’s a Hollywood-Santa Monica resident who lives in Lakewood Elementary‘s attendance zone, he chose to send his daughter to Hockaday, an all-girls private school, for kindergarten. Having a child in private school while running for a trustee seat is an issue that District 2 Trustee Dustin Marshall, who also represents parts of East Dallas, had to defend throughout two campaigns. Henry says he is passionate about providing quality early childhood education and racial equity to Dallas ISD students.

Turner is a South Dallas native who graduated from James Madison High School and worked in finance before becoming an organizer in South Dallas and participating in Leadership ISD. His daughter attends Grand Prairie ISD’s Travis World Language Academy, where her mother teaches. Turner also advocates for early childhood education and highlights his deep ties to the community.

Incumbent Bernadette Nutall is no friend to reform-minded political action committees, though she was endorsed by Dallas Kids First in 2012 against consultant Demarcus Offord. Dallas Kids First flipped the script in 2015 when Nutall’s Dallas Kids First rating went from an A to a C, and Offord jumped from an F to a B-minus. Despite losing Dallas Kids First’s endorsement in 2015, Nutall won the election with nearly 54 percent of the 3,922 votes. Nutall’s children have attended both Dallas ISD and private schools.

A fourth candidate, Ona Marie Hendricks, filed to run the day before the deadline. Hendricks ran for both county commissioner and city council over the past few years, gaining brief fame for joining Councilman Dwaine Caraway’s fight against sagging pants.

Dallas Kids First posted their questionnaires with both Turner and Henry and their resulting scorecards. Nutall declined to fill out questionnaires or be interviewed, so the PAC instead posted “critical aspects of Trustee Nutall’s voting history.”

The dual endorsement, while a boost for each candidate, could divide reform-minded voters. But if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of votes on May 5, there will be a runoff in June.


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