The Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees on Jan. 29 during a special meeting approved calling for a special election to fill the Position 5 spot that was vacated when KP George was sworn in as Fort Bend County Judge Jan. 1.
The window to apply for a place on the ballot under this position opened Jan. 29 and will close on March 4. The election for Position 5 will be May 4, the same date as the election for two other trustee positions, 3 and 7.
“This is a good idea for us to put this on the ballot for May,” Trustee Addie Heyliger said. “It overlaps with our current timeframe and is a prudent way for us to get someone onto the board and for people to choose who gets on the board.”
A candidate for Position 5 would need to be over the age of 18 and live within the Position 5 district, which is the east side of FBISD. The elected person will serve the remaining term through May 2020.
Candidates who have already applied for Position 7 can also apply for Position 5, but first they need to withdraw their application and apply for Position 5, according to the district.
The opening of Position 5 follows the Jan. 22 board meeting, during which Fort Bend County residents alleged the board of trustees were not following Texas Education Code 11.060, which describes how trustee vacancies are to be managed.
The code states: “(a) If a vacancy occurs on the board of trustees of an independent school district, the remaining trustees may fill the vacancy by appointment until the next trustee election. (b) If the board is appointed by the governing body of a municipality, a trustee appointed by the governing body to fill a vacancy shall serve for the unexpired term. (c) Instead of filling a vacancy by appointment under Subsection (a) or (b), the board or municipal governing body may order a special election to fill the vacancy. A special election is conducted in the same manner as the district’s general election except as provided by the Election Code (d) If more than one year remains in the term of the position vacated, the vacancy shall be filled under this section not later than the 180th day after the date the vacancy occurs.”
On Jan. 20, Judge KP George posted a Facebook message urging his former colleagues on the board to fill his Position 5 seat.
“It has recently come to my attention that Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees Position 5, the seat I served on to represent the community, may remain vacant for months on end—diluting the strength of community input and representation,” he wrote. “I encourage the Board to act accordingly in (1) filling my former seat instead of leaving a vacancy for months and (2) allowing the voters full say in May to elect their representative to this seat.”
Trustee Kristin Tassin addressed those concerns Jan. 29 when she said the position did not officially become available until Dec. 31, and the board was not able to have a conversation about Position 5 until January.
“When we had the conversation, we made a decision,” she said. “I know there was a lot of confusion in the community about how this works and what the law says, but I want to make it clear that at the first opportunity the board had, we had this conversation and called this meeting.”
As of Jan. 29, three candidates have filed for the two other trustee positions.
Although the Fort Bend ISD board elections website does not show Position 7 Trustee Dave Rosenthal has submitted his application for re-election, Trustee Grayle James, in her discussion on who can run, alluded to him running at the Jan. 29 special meeting.
“So a person couldn’t file to run against Dave and file for [Position 5],” she said.
The deadline to file for positions 3 and 7 is Feb. 15. Office hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. to drop off applications at Fort Bend ISD, 16431 Lexington Blvd., Room 103, Sugar Land, or mail in filled-out candidate packets to the same address.