Q&As: Two candidates compete for the At-Large Place 6 seat on the Richardson ISD board

Two candidates for Richardson ISD's board are vying for the At Large-Place 6 spot on the May ballot.

Community Impact Newspaper contacted each candidate with questions about their priorities for the district.

Early voting begins April 20 and ends April 28 and election day is May 2.

Eric Eager

Occupation: management consultant

Why did you decide to run for this position?

I have lived and worked in the RISD area for over 40 years. My family moved here in 1967 when my father got a job with Texas Instruments. Over the years, I can remember attending James Bowie Elementary when there was nothing but open fields behind it, playing on the steel rocket ship in Heights Park, hanging out with my friends at Richardson Square Mall, among other great memories. RISD is a great community and is one of the main reasons why myself and many other people have returned here to raise our families.

RISD has always had a tradition of being a great school district but has new challenges facing it, as we have one of the most diverse school districts in the state of Texas. We are at a pivotal point where we have the opportunity to take RISD to another level. I am at a point in my life where I have the time, passion and expertise to contribute back to the community and to step up and make a difference in helping all our kids.

What experience—professional or otherwise—do you have that would prepare you for this position?

Over recent years, I have had the opportunity to serve our community in several different areas. I am currently a member of the RISD Strategic Planning and the Facilities Planning committees, a graduate of Leadership Richardson, an executive board member of the RISD Foundation, attended PTA Rally Day in Austin and fought successfully for an additional $24 million in annual funding for teacher raises. I also have an understanding of the [Parent-Teacher Association] perspective of district needs, as my wife has held an executive board position in the RISD Council of PTAs and local school PTAs for over a decade. All these experiences have given me an in-depth understanding of the needs of our kids and have prepared me to be an effective board member.

In addition, I also have over 25 years of experience successfully developing teams and businesses and managing multimillion dollar budgets. I have learned how to bring people together with different perspectives and backgrounds to accomplish common goals. In many cases, I have had to do this with limited resources in very competitive environments for the best people.

If elected, what are some specific policies you would advocate in RISD?

  • Helping our kids from cradle to career: From early childhood education to ensure all kids master the fundamentals, all the way to helping them beyond high school so they can flourish in college or their careers.

  • Attracting and retaining the best teachers: Great teachers have the biggest impact on our kids. We need to retain our great teachers and continue to make RISD a destination district for new teachers.

  • Safe and up-to-date schools: The average age of our schools is 50-plus years. We need to update our classrooms and buildings, but unfortunately, we also need to add new security measures to protect our kids.

Are there any specific areas in the district’s budget that you would consider funding more or funding less?

  • Pre-K for all students: Providing access to pre-K significantly improves kindergarten readiness, third grade reading mastery, high school graduation rates, post-high school education and workforce readiness.

  • 3rd grade reading comprehension programs: A key milestone of student development is their reading at grade level by third grade. Reading is fundamental to learning, and we need to ensure our kids are equipped for success in following years.

  • Career, Professional and Technical Education Courses programs: Some of my best lessons in life were getting hands-on experience. The more options we provide our kids to explore career choices now, the better off they will be in narrowing down what they want to do in life.

What else do you want constituents to know about you and your background?

I am a dedicated husband, father and family man who has lived in the Richardson area for more than 40 years. I have been married for over 23 years to my wife Brenna, and we have twin 17-year old sons who have spent their entire school careers in RISD. I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, sports, music and telling bad dad jokes.

Bridgett Hudson

Occupation: teacher

Why did you decide to run for this position?

As an educator and Richardson ISD parent, I want to be at the table helping to provide support, solve problems and build bridges to ensure all students of Richardson are provided exemplary educational opportunities enabling them to exceed expectations. Richardson is such a unique community. There is a lot of industry in our city. Yet, there is still a “hometown” feel. That dynamic, coupled with our amazing diversity, makes for an exciting opportunity to serve the Richardson ISD.

What experience—professional or otherwise—do you have that would prepare you for this position?

I have intentionally crafted my professional and educational experience for an opportunity such as this. I have worked in management in the housing industry for a nonprofit and have owned my own business. I have a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and will be completing a Master of Education with an Urban Studies specialization this summer. I was a 2019 Advocacy and Policy Fellow with Leadership for Educational Equity and have spent the past six years in both higher education administration and teaching in Dallas ISD. I served as the board chair for a transitional housing facility for formerly incarcerated women. Each of these roles has given me a diverse skill set. I am confident I can put these skills to great use to serve the Richardson community and, most importantly, our students.

Additionally, I have a background in dance, and I started after school dance programs with three different networks. However, arguably the experience I believe that has prepared me the most is that of being a mom of three incredibly amazing children. They are 25, 22 and 17. My youngest son will be graduating from J.J. Pearce [High School] this spring. Within our family, each child has had his own unique experience, having challenges and successes in different areas. Likewise, the children in our district are arriving to school every day with their own set of unique gifts and abilities, and they deserve board members who are able to assist in policies that foster their individuality while supporting their growth.

If elected, what are some specific policies you would advocate in RISD?

I am super excited about what is happening in the district currently as it relates to advancing policy. Running for an at-large position means my focus will be inclusive of the entire district. Therefore, I am eager to join in the work of the expansion of pre-K programming, enhancing diversity efforts for educators and administrators, teacher retention, arts in education, and after-school and STEM focused programs.

Are there any specific areas in the district’s budget that you would consider funding more or funding less?

There are many facets to the budget. Answering that question sufficiently requires a keen understanding of what the current needs are. I look forward to working with each board member to align budget allocation with inevitably what will be best for the students every time.

What else do you want constituents to know about you and your background?

As a former principal often shared, “Parents send the best they have to school every day.” For that reason I am appreciative of the trust each parent has placed in me as I teach Reading Language Arts to 92 fantastic eighth graders. Teaching is a hard job, but more than that it is a “heart” job. As a servant leader, I lead with my heart in my classroom, responding to each child as if he were my own. It is with that exact approach that I intend to bring to the Richardson ISD board.
By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.