Three Waco ISD incumbents snag seats on the board once more

Cary DuPuy (left), Robin Houston (center) and Jose Vidaña (right) were named to the Waco ISD school board after Tuesday election. Photos courtesy of council members’ campaigns

By Rachel Harsley | Contributor

Jose Vidaña, Cary DuPuy and Robin Houston, all incumbents, have emerged as victorious in the Nov. 3 Waco Independent School District Board of Trustees election.

DuPuy and Houston will keep control of their two at-large seats while Vidaña maintains his position as the representative for District 3. DuPuy received 11,976 votes, Houston received 10,615 votes and Vidaña received 2,294 votes, all placing them above their opponents. Vidaña is satisfied to see the existing team assemble once more on the school board and is excited to move forward.

“It’s nice to keep moving forward without having to pause and get somebody caught up with where we’re at so we don’t lose any ground,” said Vidaña. “I feel relieved. It’s stressful putting in work and trying to reach out to people and get in contact with them because of COVID regulations. I’m going to do what I’ve signed up to do and continue to improve the schools.”

Hope Balfa-Mustakim, who ran against Cary DuPuy, remains optimistic despite the loss. She is looking to the future, which may include a second try at running for the school board – this time, as a representative for District 4, where she lives.

“I have been eyeing that seat, or if there’s a city council seat that comes up … this is just the beginning for me,” said Balfa-Mustakim. “I’m just going back to work tomorrow, you know, I’m an organizer, and I just keep pushing for criminal justice reform and immigration reform and just getting back to the grind. I’m hopeful for the years that are to come.”

Jose Vidaña and Ilda Sabido, who faced off to claim District 3, both possess a desire to create equal opportunity for all Waco ISD students.

Vidaña, father of six children who have attended Waco ISD schools, was voted in unanimously by the Waco ISD Board of Trustees last year to replace Larry Perez. Sabido, his opponent, a community volunteer and Waco ISD graduate, highlighted teacher retention and inclusion for every student in her campaign.

Hope Balfa-Mustakim and Cary DuPuy, who competed for one of the at-large seats, approached their campaigns from quite different angles.

Before becoming the executive director for the Waco Immigrants Alliance, Balfa-Mustakim served the district as a social work intern and substitute teacher. According to Balfa-Mustakim, bringing social workers into schools would boost students’ mental health.

DuPuy, owner of DuPuy Oxygen Supply and Co. and member of the school board for 11 years, had his doubts about Balfa-Mustakim’s plan. DuPuy was more focused on bypassing obstacles created by COVID-19 related to the district’s virtual learning platform.

Robin Houston and Keith Guillory, the remaining candidates for the final at-large seat, displayed different priorities in their campaigns as well.

Attorney Robin Houston wants to maintain a steady path forward in the midst of COVID-19. Houston was voted to the school board unanimously last year as a replacement for Pat Atkins. She cited teacher retention and COVID-19 as her top priorities in her campaign.

Waco Fire Department Lt. Keith Guillory firmly believes that low literacy rates are the most important issue plaguing the district. According to the Texas Education Agency’s 2018-2019 report card for Waco ISD, 28% of third grade students test at or above grade level.

As a result of reading to children and giving fire safety presentations in Waco ISD schools, Guillory has a passion for improving the district’s literacy rates.