Deep Dive on the Best Candidates for the 2023 GCISD School Board Election

One-Minute Summary

  • Pro-GCISD families need to be United for GCISD and support the best candidate that filed in each of the 3 school board races this year. Please show up for our teachers and students and tell others why you will VOTE for Sergio Harris for Place 5, Dianna Sager for Place 6, and Kimberly Phoenix for Place 7!
  • Harris, Sager, and Phoenix are also listed as the best candidates by Protect GCISD, The Book-Loving Texan’s Guide to the May 2023 School Board Elections, and yes, a PAC. But don’t worry, not all PACs are harmful in local elections. In order to raise money for political campaigns, various IRS structures are needed. Texas Nonpartisan PAC is truly local, GCISD focused, and only formed as a PAC to comply with election rules regarding coordinated election campaign efforts.
  • Why is the GCISD School Board election so important? The new school board majority eliminated run-offs, so the person with the most votes wins. This is different from prior years. There will only be one chance to vote. A split “non-Patriot Mobile” vote hurts our chances to restore Independence, Respect, and Excellence. 

We have One Vote for a Better GCISD, Because Our Kids Deserve the Best!

E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One. Our founding fathers chose this original motto in 1776. It signifies the strength that comes from uniting diverse perspectives into a single voice.

We chose to use this purposefully in our logo because, when you are trying to support a district as unique as ours, it takes a strong variety of voices representing differing but equally passionate views to make the most educated decisions for our schools. That is how school board races used to be! Candidates ran because they cared about public education and once on the board, the seven elected trustees sworn to work on behalf of our students and teachers used their varying perspectives to decide what was BEST for GCISD. We strongly believe that City Council and School Board races should remain nonpartisan for that reason, so each elected trustee focuses solely on the district without taking political marching orders that follow a party platform or the desires of an important donor.

Unfortunately, some extremist organizations — defined as far from center and drastically narrower than the views of the majority of GCISD families — have decided to make school board races political across the country, and as a community we didn’t react quickly enough to fend them off. Last year, GCISD made national news as a Patriot Mobile “takeover district” when the candidates they identified, funded, and coached gained majority. Instead of a grassroots election of independent candidates, we instead have 4 trustees that vote as a block virtually every time. The district as we know it has suffered. We have seen a dramatic rise in teacher turnover, families are leaving, our community’s reputation is suffering, and we are losing academic opportunities that once drew families to our district – all due to irresponsible and short-sighted decisions made by an inexperienced board majority. 

There are so many proof points of the negative effect in the past 12 months, here’s just a few highlights:

Even more disappointing is that our new board majority is very proud of this destruction and they regularly share their “success” by speaking on the topic of taking over school boards. 

Why We Formed a Local GCISD Voice

Many of these same anti-public school voices have been involved over the past decade or more, in various organizations with changing names and lead players based on partisan elections. In the past two years, several LOCAL grassroots organizations began forming to try and combat the damage and get the truth out about GCISD.  Non-partisan, pro-public education organizations like Protect GCISD, Texas Bipartisan Alliance, United for GCISD and Texas Nonpartisan PAC all formed at different times, with different people, and under different tax structures, but all with a similar idea in mind: counter the misinformation being shared about GCISD, defend our teachers from unfair attacks, help our students feel safe and cared for, and educate the public about what was happening to the district we love. 

Several Facebook groups also formed to discuss issues in GCISD, but they did not file as political organizations so they could not impact elections on the same scale, since that was not their stated intent. All of these groups grew out of a love for GCISD and each has an important role, but to truly beat such a well-funded attack requires all of us being on the same page. Sadly, that didn’t happen. A truly grassroots set of organizations organized bottom up by busy families on a volunteer basis is a far cry from a top down process with virtually unlimited funding and professional consultation down to their color coordinated signs. We tried for months to get as connected and organized as time, money, and volunteer commitment would allow but it unfortunately wasn’t enough to keep good candidates from filing against each other (or, later, reconsidering what was in the best interest of GCISD.)

With so many school districts under attack and requests coming in for help in other areas, volunteers decided to switch Texas Bipartisan Alliance to supporting any potential takeover district that needed help. Organizers of United for GCISD launched to focus exclusively on GCISD, beginning with the highly successful Scholastic Book Fair raising $10,000 in books for children served through GRACE Christmas Cottage. After that success, volunteers that felt passionately about speaking out against book bans and censorship wanted to keep the momentum going so that as candidates for school board filed, a support group would already exist.

United for GCISD was formed as an alliance of community members and organizations dedicated to restoring excellence, independence, and respect in the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District by electing board trustees who align with these core community values. We hoped to be a bridge and we reached out for support with that in mind. We knew it would be vitally important to get behind ONE candidate per place. We announced our plans and invited everyone to join us that aligned with our mission to Take Back GCISD in 2023.

Based on years of collective experience, we knew it would be catastrophic to pledge support to a candidate before the end of filing because you can’t control who files in a democracy! Unlike the anti-GCISD candidates, there was no vetting or interview process to decide who was allowed to file and where, despite lots of people having lots of opinions, in the end no one could make that decision but each candidate filing.

Looking for Candidates Who Speak for ALL Students

Despite that, we knew we had to UNITE behind ONE candidate for each race and find the ones with the strongest chance to beat the inevitable Patriot Mobile slate. At that time, it was unclear if any of the incumbents were even running. Since school board filings don’t even start until January, we focused on educating the public on issues relevant to the upcoming campaign through a series of Deep Dives. Many people talked to the candidates as they considered filing. Some candidates said they did not want help or that they did not want to campaign alongside any other candidate. Others agreed that a unified plan was our best chance. All of that was taken into consideration and in the end once filing closed we decided to invite all candidates publicly on our page to reach out to us if they felt their mission aligned with ours.

That brings us to today and our campaign going forward. We believe without question that in our 3-way races, Sergio Harris for Place 5 and Kimberly Phoenix for Place 7 stand with us in our desire to Take Back GCISD and Restore the Independence, Respect and Excellence, which at one point in time, we all took for granted.

How do we know Harris and Phoenix are pro-public education?

  • These two candidates understand the importance of aligning in a way that gives us the best chance of winning back our district.
  • They have the most recent and relevant experience to get us up to speed quickly and are vocally committed to undoing the damage of our current board majority.
  • They are parents of GCISD students, long time public education devotees, and have large community volunteer followings.
  • You will also see Dianna Sager on our materials for Place 6, which is a two person race. She did not reach out to us to show how her campaign goals align with ours, but she is the only non-Patriot Mobile candidate in that race. 

Three Candidates Stand Out for Pro-Public Education Voices

We aren’t the only ones that noticed these admirable traits! Harris, Sager and Phoenix are also being listed as the best 3 candidates by Protect GCISD, The Book-Loving Texan’s Guide to the May 2023 School Board Elections, and yes, a PAC. But don’t worry, not all PACs are harmful in local elections. In order to raise money for political campaigns, various IRS structures are needed and a few local GCISD volunteers were willing to structure as a PAC so that we could all have that option for donors. TXNPac is truly local, GCISD focused, and only is formed as a PAC to comply with election rules regarding coordinated election campaign efforts. PACs have different rules than incorporated 501c4s, which are different than unincorporated 501c4s, and all allow more support for causes and candidates due to fundraising and endorsement rules than informational Facebook groups and substantially more than 501c3s.

To be clear, every well intended organization plays an important role, but the financial and legal structures are vital if we really are serious about trying to counter the takeover. We can no longer vote for our friends, a former classmate, the person who filed first, the parent of your child’s classmate, or the one who wants a do-over. Voting for someone because they’re “from here” has not served our community well in the last two elections. This election will require a much more disciplined and thoughtful vote. All eyes across the country are on GCISD, ever since Patriot Mobile made us their ground zero.

Why is the 2023 GCISD school board election so important?

We need more involvement and commitment from all pro-public school advocates in GCISD to make our vision a reality. Until then, outside forces will continue to overpower us. Sadly, as we said to anyone that would listen: school board elections from the days when you could run independently on your own merits and without a built-in support network are over. And anyone who naively thought otherwise before, is clearly seeing the light now, as we are seeing sets of three signs all over town and candidates endorsing other candidates on their campaign pages.

Regardless of how many well-intended candidates we have, in the end we can only support ONE candidate per place or risk EVERYTHING by splitting the vote, since runoffs were very purposefully eliminated.