When Justin Henry received the most votes — but not enough to avoid a runoff election — in May, a mere 69 votes separated him and Dallas ISD District 9 incumbent trustee Bernadette Nutall.
Saturday night, with all 47 precincts reporting, Henry won by more than 600 votes.
Percentage-wise, the vote closely resembled the story of the election cycle — Henry’s win was an almost perfect mathematical combination of his general election votes and fellow Dallas Kids First and Educate Dallas co-endorsee Ed Turner’s votes. Turner and Demarcus Offord, another former Nutall opponent from previous races, hit the campaign trail again for the runoff, going door-to-door and block walking in support of Henry.
Henry received 62.75 percent of the vote in Saturday’s election, leading in early voting, mail-in votes, and in Election Day votes. Turnout hovered between two and five percent in most precincts, with one lone precinct pulling in more than 10 percent of voters — and that precinct went to Nutall, by 12 votes.
In a recent CandysDirt.com candidate questionnaire, Henry said that if he won, he would like to work with Nutall to continue her advocacy work in District 9, citing her commitment to the community there.
“The biggest strength of the incumbent is that she has a long history and deep commitment to community service,” he said in the questionnaire. “I worked with the incumbent for years before the election even through points of disagreement. I have worked to build bridges between the incumbent and others in our community.”
On Facebook, Henry thanked his supporters. “Thank you to everyone that’s been a part of this campaign for change,” he wrote. “It could not have happened without every one of you. Working together we’ll be able to provide all of the opportunities our kids deserve. I’m humbled and ready to serve as your District 9 DISD Trustee.”
Saturday morning, Nutall took to Facebook to talk about the election as well.
“Well the numbers are in and there will be a new Dallas ISD School Board Trustee for District 9. I can attest that my opponent is very intelligent and wish him well,” she said, going on to thank supporters for “being the rock solid foundation upon which I stood.”
“Although I no longer will be trustee, I remain vested in DISD, because like so many of you, I have a child whom I am determined to not let be considered a mere ACT, STAAR, or SAT score. All of our children need and deserve that,” she continued. “I remain committed to the children, educators and school staff in DISD. I hope you have understood that the battles, no, the wars, that have been waged on your behalf, were well worth it.”
“The love, support and encouragement that you have provided not only my children, but all children is greatly appreciated. Without you, there would be very little light in so many children’s lives.”
Many saw the District 9 race in particular as a referendum on a potential 13-cent Tax Ratification Election. Twice in two years, Nutall voted against measures that would put a 13-cent TRE on the ballot for voters to decide. District officials have told trustees that thanks to recapture, the district will face giving $40 million of its property tax revenue back to the state. The budget presented in April proposes a 13-cent property tax increase.
Some of those funds from the increase would be used for racial equity efforts and to expand the early childhood learning program, but the bulk would be used to increase teacher salaries and improve the health of the district’s unassigned fund balance (which is the district’s savings account).
In a presentation last year, Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the average fifth-year teacher in Dallas ISD is making around $57,000.
Not long after the winner became clear, several current Dallas ISD trustees took to Twitter to congratulate Henry.
Congratulations to Justin Henry on a huge victory! Looking forward to working with you on behalf of kids. @justinfordisd
— Dan Micciche (@DanforDISD) June 17, 2018
— Dustin Marshall DISD (@MarshallforDISD) June 17, 2018
— Edwin Flores (@edwinflorestroy) June 17, 2018
Congrats to my new colleague, @justinfordisd, on his election to the @dallasschools board of trustees. A new generation of leaders is emerging to transform Dallas. I look forward to working with Justin on critical policies beginning with a comprehensive racial equity policy.
— Miguel Solis (@TrusteeSolis) June 17, 2018