Nine of the 14 candidates running for positions on the Humble ISD Board of Trustees met with area Republicans at Amedeo’s Restaurant in Kingwood March 13.
The function, billed as a “Dinner Conversation with Conservatives,” was hosted by the Lake Houston Area Pachyderm Club in conjunction with the Kingwood Area Republican Women. More than 50 area residents attended, intent on getting to know the people behind the names that will appear on the May 6 election ballot.
Prior to dinner, the candidates and voters met and mixed informally just outside the dining area. Chris Parker of the Pachyderm Club explained how the candidates’ presentations would be conducted.
“There are a total of nine candidates and none of them are Democrats, just so you know," she said.
Parker explained there are four of the seven trustee positions up for election this May. They are Positions 1, 3, 4 and 5. The other three positions are up in 2019.
“Our host is Dr. Bonnie Longnion, a lifelong educator who has been a Kingwood resident since 1984. Bonnie served on the Humble ISD school board from 1988 until 2013. She served as president of the Texas Association of School Boards and currently serves on the Humble ISD Foundation as she continues her work in education," Parker said.
Longnion thanked the group and explained that each candidate would have equal time to speak.
Two of the three candidates for Position 1 were present to speak.
“I've been on the board for six years," said incumbent Robert Sitton. I was born and raised here. I have raised two kids through the system. I have two kids currently in the system. I was a former school teacher for eight years and I have been a financial planner for 19 years."
He explained why he wants to be re-elected and reflected on what his parents had taught him.
“If you call it home, leave it better than you found it," he said. He noted various Humble ISD accomplishments that he had been involved in achieving.
“I am more energized and more passionate about Humble ISD today than I was six years ago, because we are a great place today," he said.
Next for Position 1 was longtime Kingwood resident and retired businessman Bob Rehak.
“I've lived in the Kingwood area for 32 years now and have been a community activist most of that time," said Rehak. "I also owned a business here called Rehak Creative Services that I started about 24 years ago, and it quickly became one of the top 10 ad agencies in the City of Houston.
“Why am I running? Well, I am retired now. I can devote my full attention to this job. I am not splitting my attention between a business and anything else. I also have educational experience. I was a professor of journalism and advertising at Northwestern University before I moved to Texas. I know the ins and outs of education. I bring both the economic perspective and the educational perspective."
There being no election this year for Position 2, Angela Conrad was introduced as the incumbent candidate and the only candidate for Position 3.
“I am the current vice president of the board of trustees and I am running for re-election to my second term on the board," she said. "I just really want to ensure that we are the highest-achieving schools in the state. We have set the foundation for doing that. I have proven my leadership skills through successfully working with our district's leadership. I have been focused on getting results and I also am focused on the future. I have the right experience and am the right choice."
Position 4 incumbent Charles Cunningham was then introduced. There is one other candidate for Position 4 who was not present.
“What motivated me to run for the school board was, first, all of my children are in the school district and I was concerned about the quality of the education. I was concerned at the state of funding that was going on and as I got into the school board I really became concerned about all of the children and the quality of the education that they were receiving. I have a proven track record of leadership. I have served at every position on the school board. I have also served at the regional level," Cunningham said.
Five candidates were present for Position 5; there are two other candidates. There is no incumbent as Brent Engelage is stepping down after nine years of service. The participating candidates were introduced and explained why they want to serve.
Martina Dixon introduced herself as a mother of four, including a sophomore at Howard University in Washington D.C., a junior at Humble High School, and two children in middle school. She previously taught for 10 years at Galena Park High School and currently is on the Humble ISD Education Foundation Board where she serves as treasurer.
“I am passionate about education. It has been what I do – what I focus on – and I really want to see the great district that we live in currently, become even better," Dixon said.
Jonathan Prevot said, “I farm over in Huffman. I’ve been in the district for four years. I’ve got three children, one in elementary, one in middle school, and one in high school. The reason I am wanting to run is I have invested the most important things in my life in this district and that is my three kids, and I just want to be a part of making the district better.”
Shawn Biazar said, “I have over a decade in law enforcement. I started my career with the Humble ISD Police Department in 2004. I am a deputy sheriff in the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. I got my degree in organizational communications. Why I am running for school board is I hope to utilize my knowledge and experience in public safety to become an influence with regard to the district’s effort to provide a safe, secure environment for our children to grow and develop. Safety for our kids is first for me.”
Cliff Crossett said, “What motivated me to run for school board? I think it is plain and simple: my wife and children.” He explained that he has four children with two in the district right now, a fourth-grader and a second-grader, along with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, fast approaching school age. He said that he has his own medical support business, U.S. Cardio Partners, and is familiar with special needs medical conditions. He said he is concerned that the district needs to be more fully aware of those needs and conditions. With his background, he said he believes he can contribute in that area. “Life is important. It is about change and improvement and I can bring that,” said Crossett.
The last candidate to speak was Robert Panzarella. “I am an emergency room physician,” he said. I’ve lived in Humble my entire life. My father was one of only two doctors in Humble. Mother was the first woman on the school board in Humble. So, I feel like this is a legacy. I knew, sooner or later, I would have to get on the school board.”
He continued, “I am semi-retired from the ER, so I have time now to devote to it. I feel like I have a good knowledge of the entire area because I grew up in Old Humble, went to Humble High School, and my kids went to Kingwood High School and Kingwood Park High School. I have a niece in the Atascocita area, so I feel like I could bring a breadth of knowledge and experience and even legacy to the school board.”
The evening ended with all the candidates thanking the crowd.
There is a lot at stake in this election given the size and rapid growth expected in the next few years. New expansion and construction, along with new policies and regulations from both Washington and Austin, will all be addressed.