Another runoff, another win for Dallas ISD trustee Dustin Marshall

Dustin Marshall looks like he won a runoff election. Once again.

According to unofficial results, Marshall seemed ready to beat challenger Nancy Rodriguez for the District 2 seat. With around a third of the polling stations, the incumbent had a lead of 1,694 votes out of 5,850 votes cast.

In the early voting, Marshall garnered more than twice as many personal voters and outpaced Rodriguez by nearly 600 votes in mail-in votes.

If the results were for Marshall, it would be his third trick victory in four years.

Rodriguez beat Marshall in the November general election by more than 3,000 votes, in which over 60,000 District 2 voters cast one vote. But she didn’t reach a 50% threshold to be declared the overall winner in a race with three candidates.

In a sense, the triumph could be seen as a referendum on the development of the district under the leadership of Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who continued much of the reform efforts of former district leader Mike Miles in his second stint in the district.

Marshall is a passionate supporter of the Dallas data-intensive approaches. For example, he has endorsed the district’s controversial teacher evaluation and earnings system and advocated a more automated method of identifying schools in need of repair or replacement.

Rodriguez ran against the district’s Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI) because the assessments are based in part on student performance on the state’s standardized test, which it considers defective.

TEI was recently used as a model for a pilot government teacher assessment project led by former DISD school board and current Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. Marshall took over Morath’s seat on the Dallas board in the 2016 special election.

The typical calendar for school council races with elections in May has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most districts – including Dallas – have postponed their elections to November, when they would take place at the same time as the presidential election.

For the past few months, the race between Marshall, CEO of a freight and logistics company, and Rodriguez, a social worker, has been decidedly partisan, despite the fact that Texas school council elections are supposedly non-partisan.

District 2 is a donut-shaped area around the Park Cities that captures both sides of the Dallas political spectrum, including Preston Hollow, Lakewood, and parts of East Dallas.

Rodriguez and her supporters called Marshall the choice of the well-heeled Republicans in Dallas and advertised their support from several local democratic organizations. Marshall pushed back and questioned their Democratic bonafides.

Marshall raised $ 574,579 during his extended campaign, of which $ 171,887 came in the month-long runoff election. Marshall’s runoff alone was more than Rodriguez had raised during their entire campaign: $ 45,702.

(Marshall’s contributors to the campaign include Bobby Lyle and Peter Beck, both donors to the Dallas Morning News Education Lab.)

The DMN Education Lab deepens the coverage and discussion of urgent educational issues that are critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative supported by the Communities Foundation in Texas, the Meadows Foundation, the Dallas Foundation, Southern Methodist University, the Todd A. Williams Family Foundation, the Beck Group, Bobby, and Lottye Lyle becomes the Solutions Journalism Network. The Dallas Morning News retain full editorial control over the Education Lab’s journalism.

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