Gay candidate vying for school board

By David Taffet | Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Linus Spiller shooting for runoff in effort to unseat District 1 incumbent Edwin Flores on Board of Trustees

Linus Spiller

Openly gay candidate Linus Spiller is hoping to unseat incumbent Dallas Independent School District Trustee Edwin Flores, the school board representative in District 1, when Dallas voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to vote on three seats on the DISD board.

The winners on Tuesday will serve 2 1⁄2 years to finish unexpired terms for Districts 1, 3 and 9. Four candidates are vying for each seat.

Spiller said this week he is challenging Flores because “I don’t think the board of trustees is working effectively on behalf of taxpayers. We shouldn’t have $84 million accounting errors that result in losing 500 teachers.”

Spiller said his priorities are student achievement and success, financial accountability and board ethics and transparency.

Spiller said that he takes a personal interest in DISD because he has children himself. He and his partner have raised two sons: The oldest attended Hillcrest High School in North Dallas and their younger son is a graduate of W.T. White in District 1.

Spiller said he believes his campaign is going well, but the low voter turnout so far is disappointing.

“I think the rain is exacerbating that,” he said.

In the final days of the campaign, Spiller said he would rely on robocalls to people in his district. That area runs from I-35 to Central Expressway and is north of Northwest Highway. Several schools in Farmers Branch are part of DISD and fall within District 1.

The district is mostly Anglo, he said, but the DISD students in the area are majority Hispanic.

Spiller said that what distinguishes him from the other candidates is that he has experience in education. He is a former instructor at Everest College and ran a program at Brookhaven College where community college students tutored DISD and other area children. The program was nationally recognized.

“The majority of our property taxes fund DISD,” he said. More tax money goes to the school district than Parkland, the community college district or any other one place, he said. “So we have a vested interest in how that is spent.”

District 1 students are doing well in K-5 but his concern is the secondary level where there is a serious drop off, Spiller said. After grade 5, those who can afford it remove their children from public school and enroll them in private or charter schools.

The four candidates in the race have met at 11 community forums. Spiller’s recommendations for the school board include replacing the superintendent immediately and appointing an interim superintendent.

He would like fiduciary responsibility removed from that office and placed with a chief financial officer. The superintendent would be responsible for directing great education. That model, he said, would mirror the city’s structure with its manager form of government.

In addition to the school board elections, 11 propositions to amend the Texas constitution are up for a vote. These amendments are on the ballot statewide and deal with a variety of issues including property taxes, state contributions to veterans hospitals, eminent domain and allowing state militia members to hold elected office. •

The wording of the amendments can be found online in our Instant Tea blog. Early voting ends Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. Polling places are open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 30, 2009.

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