Today at 5pm and 6pm the two San Antonio ISD board incumbents up for re-election, Patti Radle and Christina Martinez respectively, will sit for a screening at the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel (SAISD’s union) office. They will be followed at 7pm by candidate Darrell Boyce, who is running to replace retiring trustee James Howard.
Radle’s challenger Jannell Rubio, and two other district two candidates sat for screenings yesterday, and three more–Eduardo Torres, Christopher Green, and Chris Castro–will be in the hot seat tomorrow from 10 am-1pm.
Interested in attending? Register here.
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 high 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.
The 22-item questionnaire gave ample opportunity for Radle and Martinez to distance themselves from both Martinez, and their own controversial voting record. It probably would have been pegged as disingenuous, and may have been futile, given that both incumbents have been specifically targeted in Alliance comments.
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.
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.
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.
One of my most memorable moments of school board coverage was a special meeting at 8pm 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.
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.
She also gets into the weeds on data, which is also pretty unusual for a political questionnaire. She’s not writing sound bites.
So there you have it. READ THE WHOLE QUESTIONNAIRE.