Here’s your cheat sheet for the Dallas ISD District 9 election

By |Published On: April 23, 2024|Categories: South Dallas|

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Early voting begins today and Election Day is Saturday, May 4 for Dallas ISD’s District 9 Trustee, which includes South Dallas. In the last District 9 election in 2021, 4,454 ballots were cast, with 76% going to incumbent Trustee Justin Henry.

The trustee for District 9 represents the Madison, Lincoln, and Skyline high school zones, which includes 18 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, 3 multi-level schools, as well as Citylab and Booker T. Washington high schools.

Dallas ISD’s District 9 Map, as adopted on Dec. 16, 2021, from Dallas ISD’s website.

Henry is stepping down after two three-year terms on the board, and four candidates are running to fill the vacancy: Oralia Alonso, Da’On Boulanger-Chatman, Ed Turner and LaKashia Wallace.

As of April 4 finance reports, these candidates have raised more than $25,000, $22,000 of which was donated to Turner’s campaign. At the same point in 2021, a total of $39,408 was raised, all but $100 of which went to Henry’s campaign.

Here is an overview of each candidate, in alphabetical order, to help voters better understand their backgrounds, experience, and platforms. 

Oralia Alonso

Dallas Free Press reached out to Alonso several times via email and phone, and did not receive any responses. According to her candidate application, Alonso is a parent instructor who currently resides in the Parkdale neighborhood

Da’On Boulanger-Chatman

Provided by Da’On Boulanger-Chatman.

Boulanger-Chatman is currently the department chair for visual and performing arts at Lakeview Centennial High School in Garland ISD. He grew up in South Oak Cliff, graduated from Dallas ISD’s Booker T. Washington and currently resides in Buckner Terrace.

Experience

Boulanger-Chatman is in his 12th year of instructing choir, and has worked in Garland ISD and Prosper ISD. When asked why he chose to teach in Garland instead of Dallas, Boulanger-Chatman said he wanted to maintain a separation of his personal and professional life.

“I knew, going into teaching, there’s a stigma around educators during their personal life and time,” Boulanger-Chatman says. “Dallas is my home … where I put my roots, and I knew I didn’t want to teach in Dallas. Throughout my career I’ve always made sure that I live here in Dallas, but teach outside.”

Motives

Boulanger-Chatman chose to run for the open trustee position because of his experience as a teacher, and feels he can bring a new perspective to the board. He says his desire to become an educator came from his “life-changing” high school experience at Booker T. Washington, but his experience running for Dallas City Council in 2021 inspired him to seek office elsewhere.

“[Running in 2021] empowered me, because it was my first jump into any city leadership,” Boulanger-Chatman says. “I have the skillset, good experience, good connections to people … When you see a situation where you have the skills to help, you get out and help.” 

Supporters

According to district finance reports, Boulanger-Chatman does not have any financial supporters or formal endorsements. 

Priorities

Boulanger-Chatman states three priorities for his campaign:

  1. Campus and district security 
  2. Providing an in-classroom perspective toward district’s financial hardships
  3. Building trust between the community and the district

Boulanger-Chatman says as an educator, he has seen where schools often fall short in protecting students and teachers. He says part of the solution is ensuring that equipment like metal detectors and door alarms are functioning properly, but also implementing policy to eliminate additional roles many counselors serve, so they can spend more time with students.

“The counseling staff at most schools are inundated with scheduling and testing, and they don’t get to actually sit down and counsel the student population,” Boulanger-Chatman says. “It’s not going to turn everything around in that one fell swoop, but it’s gonna be a big impact towards not adding anything to the budget, but still giving our students some support.”

Ed Turner

Provided by Ed Turner.

Ed Turner is an insurance broker who currently runs the Dallas chapter of Austin Voices for Education and Youth, a nonprofit focused on engaging communities in public schools, and is the former Site Based Decision Making Chair at Paul L. Dunbar Learning Center. He is originally from and still resides in the South Boulevard/Park Row area, and graduated from The “Great” James Madison High School in District 9. His daughter currently attends Martin Luther King Jr. Arts Academy in South Dallas. He also is a member of Forest Avenue Baptist Church.

Experience

Turner ran for the District 9 seat in 2018 and came in third to Henry and former trustee Bernadette Nutall. This is his first time to run for elected office since.

In addition to his current roles with Austin Voices and the Dunbar SBDM, Turner also mentors students at Frederick Douglass Elementary School. In the past, he has worked for the Texas Organizing Project and served as the SBDM vice chair at Madison and SBDM chair at Billy E. Dade Middle School.

Turner says all these organizing roles helped him to learn how to manage organizations across interests, like his work with Our Communities, Our Schools in 2018, in opposition to home-rule school districts.

Motives

On his campaign website, Turner describes his motivations as being based in faith, family and community. When asked what faith meant to him in the context of a school board election, Turner says it’s about believing in the work the community can do to improve itself.

“It’s my faith that I believe that I can change our education outcomes,” Turner says. “I have faith that if we all work together collectively, we can do what’s in the best interests of children and we can achieve the educational outcomes that we would like to see for kids.”

Supporters

Turner has over a dozen formal endorsements, notably individuals like current Trustees Henry and Maxie Johnson, State Representative Venton Jones, State Senator Royce West, and former City Councilwoman Diane Ragsdale. He has also been endorsed by Alliance AFT, a union of non-administrative Dallas ISD employees, and Educate Dallas, a nonpartisan political action committee.

Priorities

On his campaign website, Turner outlines six points of focus:

  1. Student safety, with a focus on fentanyl
  2. Early childhood development
  3. Increasing trade training
  4. Commitment to community
  5. Commitment to educators & support staff
  6. College & workforce readiness

For Turner, college and workforce readiness is a priority, to ensure that all Dallas ISD graduates have the skills to make a living wage and build up generational wealth. While Dallas ISD does have programs for these skills, Turner says they need to be expanded and better communicated with families, so students are prepared to enter programs by the time they get to high school.

“We can have these programs where they can get the skill set they need to make a livable wage or above a livable wage in the real world,” Turner says. “Graduating high school with an associate’s degree [or job training] saves you so much when we think about building and boosting intergenerational wealth.”

Provided by LaKashia Wallace.

LaKashia Wallace

Wallace is the founder of the South Dallas Parent Coalition and is originally from South Dallas. Wallace lives in the Colonial Hills neighborhood and graduated from The “Great” James Madison High School. She is a parent of four, three of whom graduated from Dallas ISD schools.

Experience

Wallace has pursued many careers. She was a parole officer for four years, a substitute teacher for more than a decade, oversaw afterschool programs at 36 Dallas ISD schools for 10 years, and has worked with the Texas Organizing Project. She’s also served on a variety of PTAs, PTOs, and SBDM committees. She says this wide variety of experiences would give her a unique and helpful perspective as a trustee.

“I’ve been advocating because of what I’ve noticed … there’s too many gaps in District 9, and these kids are being left behind,” Wallace says. “We fight for what’s important, and our children are the most important thing we have.” 

Motives

During her time as a Dallas ISD parent, Wallace says she had vastly different experiences with each of her children, from academic accommodations to athletics to college readiness programs. While she was always involved on parent boards, Wallace says she wanted to wait until all her children graduated to run for the board.

“We have an obligation, a responsibility to communicate and build trust with children,” Wallace says. “If it has happened [in Dallas ISD], it’s happened to me, and I think it’s time we have someone from the [parent] side” on the board.

Supporters

Wallace says she is supported by various Dallas residents, most of them South Dallas neighbors, who have donated to her campaign, but she does not have any formal endorsements.

Priorities

Wallace outlines four main points for her campaign:

  1. Safety & mental health
  2. Basics before innovation
  3. Communication & trust
  4. Culturally competent leadership

Wallace believes all of these goals are attainable but require buy-in and investment from the community to fill gaps within the district. As a longtime employee and volunteer for the district, she feels it’s important for parents and community leaders to be in schools with students.

“Teachers can’t do it alone, principals can’t do it alone, and we really need to take time to think about the lack of parental involvement that we have,” Wallace says. “If you give [the community] an opportunity to come in and work with students … you’re able to build relationships and establish trust and make a difference.”

Where and when to vote in South Dallas

Early voting for the Dallas ISD District 9 seat will take place on the following dates and times: 

  • Monday, through Friday, April 22-26, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 27, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. 
  • Sunday, April 28, from noon-6 p.m. 
  • Monday and Tuesday, April 28-29, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

District 9 early voting locations include the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center and Skyline Branch Library.

Election day is Saturday, May 4, and polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. District 9 voting locations include:

Voters can also visit the Dallas County Elections website to see sample ballots, which include the 10 City of Dallas bond propositions, and find the polling location nearest them.

One candidate must receive more than 50% of votes cast, otherwise the top two vote-getters will be in a runoff election on Saturday, June 15, with polls open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. 

Correction: The original piece stated that Ed Turner was currently serving as SBDM chair at Paul L. Dunbar, and had not stated that his full-time position is insurance broker, in addition to his work with AVEY.

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About the Author: Michaela Rush

Michaela Rush joined Dallas Free Press in July 2023, as a Report for America Corps Member. Prior to joining RFA and DFP, Mi