SOUTHLAKE, Texas — Andrew Yeager beat Stephanie Williams in the special election for a Carroll ISD school board seat in a race that received national attention over its focus on race and diversity.
Turnout for Southlake precincts were just roughly 10% below the level seen in the last Texas gubernatorial race.
Yeager was the self-proclaimed conservative candidate and won with 65% of the vote, a mark just 5% below the margin of last two conservative candidates elected, Cam Bryan and Hannah Smith who won in May.
“I think in any election you have people who feel victorious. They feel that their side or argument or whatever kind of won,” Yeager said Tuesday night. “It’s not a zero-sum game. Someone holds the position but how do they lead when they’re in the position.”
Williams said closing the gap is a small win.
“It’s progress and we want to send the signal to the teachers and the students that we’re not leaving and we’re not moving on,” Williams said Tuesday night after results came in. “We’re not giving up. We’re going to push to make CISD even better than it is.”
The election put critical race theory in the spotlight despite CRT college professors and school districts across the state saying it’s not taught in K-12 schools and state lawmakers passing a bill designed to ban it from being taught it K-12 schools.
Yeager is endorsed by the Southlake Families PAC which also endorse Bryan and Smith and says its mission is to “protect our traditional way of life, which is currently under attack by extremists” and that it is “unapologetically rooted in Judeo-Christian values.”
“That doesn’t leave room for a huge portion of our population here in Southlake,” Williams said. “We’ve become very diverse and instead of celebrating that it seems that we’re almost denying that’s happening, and that certainly doesn’t serve our students well for once they leave Southlake.”
Yeager said while he’s endorsed by the PAC as well as many local and state Republican politicians, he’s trying to avoid putting politics into education.
“I don’t believe that direct politics should influence how education policy and curriculum is put together,” Yeager said.
Yeager says he’s now focused on bridging the divide the community faces.
“Day one is to let everybody know I’m not elected by a group and I represent everybody in the community,” Yeager said. “If there’s transparency and the board practices that and if people who disagree with me know they can still dialogue with me, I think they’ll be less likely to reach out to the media for grievances.”
The district recently made international headlines after a clip went viral of an administrator saying teachers should have books with opposing viewpoints, including the Holocaust. Just weeks earlier, Smith, Bryan and board member Eric Lannen voted 3-2 against board president Michelle Moore and trustee Sheri Mills to reprimand a teacher who had an anti-racist book in her classroom.
The spotlight on the town and district goes back years, though, to two viral videos of students shouting racial slurs.
Following those incidents, the district worked to create an anti-bullying and diversity plan known as the Cultural Competency Action Plan or CCAP. Debate over the plan has led to heated public comment portions during board meetings even before CRT became a political talking point across the country. The plan has now been held up for roughly a year due to a temporary restraining order. After pushback from some parents began, hundreds of current and former students shared testimony of racism and bullying in the district.
Yeager said he remains strongly opposed to the CCAP and instead supports adjusting the code of conduct for both teachers and students.
“The community has really spoken now, the second election where this has happened. The term got a lot of negativity around so I think that in discussions the community can say what is it that we’re trying to solve for,” he said. “Everyone wants to make sure if you feel bullied, you feel wronged, that there is proper procedure in place. That’s timely and transparent and people are held responsible for their actions.”
Williams has already said she plans to run again in May when the seat is again on the ballot along with another of the district’s board seats. She said she’s still hopeful for positive change.
“I know that there are lots of wonderful people in Southlake,” Williams said. “I know that they want all students to feel welcome and safe and they’re going to push for that right along beside me.”