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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Staff Editorial

Dismal voting turnout gives HISD wrong trustee

Houston had its yearly election Tuesday — but the numbers suggest many people had no idea. Only about 8.8 percent, or around 164,000 of Houston’s 1.9 million voters showed up to voice their opinions.

To make matters worse, Houston Independent School District Trustee Manuel Rodriguez Jr. won his seat by a margin of less than 25 votes. Unfortunately, Rodriguez is the wrong man for the job. In Monday’s staff editorial, we wrote about Rodriguez and his campaign flier, which attacks his opponent, Ramiro Fonseca, for being a gay man.

It seems Houston voters are either ill-informed or just don’t care about a bully winning his campaign with smear tactics and hate.

Regardless, the votes are in, and the better man for the job lost.

The flier controversy isn’t quite over, though. Noel Freeman, president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, said in the Houston Chronicle that he and other members of the organization will be attending the next HISD board meeting to confront Rodriguez and ask for an apology.

But an apology is not the answer. Rodriguez is at least slightly bigoted towards the GLBT community; how can he be trusted to guide the students of HISD when he rejects some of its students out of hand?

HISD is not a business — and it is most definitely not a place for bigotry. The school board is expected to guide the next generation of Houstonians. Rodriguez has already demonstrated he would rather attack an opponent with ignorance. What will stop him from doing it again?

The worst part about the situation is that voters are to blame. Voter turnout was a pitiful 8.8 percent. Had more people cared about the future of education in our city, this election could have ended with the right man for the job. And HISD trustee positions were not the only item on the ballot.

Annise Parker defended her mayorship successfully, city council positions went up for election and school board positions all over Houston were being decided as well.

Let’s hope most of the newly-elected candidates are not similar to Rodriguez.

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