Two first-timers join AISD board

By Beth Wilson
Published May 5th 2002
Incumbent Jack Thompson was the top vote-getter in Saturday's election for the Amarillo Independent School District board of trustees in its second election to use cumulative voting.

Newcomers Janie Rivas and Jim Austin will join Thompson on the seven-member board.

Thompson received 2,978 votes. Rivas had 2,458 votes. Austin got 2,335.

The other candidates were one-term board member Julie Attebury, with 1,975 votes, and LaRue Hite, with 659 votes.

Thompson, 69, a community volunteer, has been on the board for 22 years.

He said he was pleased to receive the support and is ready to serve another four years.

Thompson said the district has four needs to address during his next term; health care, a shortage of money coming from the state, keeping up with technology, and keeping and educating employees.

"All of that leads to the first thing, that being the best, safe education for the kids," Thompson said. "The kids have been my agenda since 1980."

Rivas, 46, a community volunteer, said she feels great about the outcome of her campaign.

"I've got a lot of work to do still," said Rivas, the second Hispanic elected to the AISD board. "This is just the beginning."

Austin, 49, a senior executive of Graham-Webb Data Print, said he was surprised by the results but is glad to fill the position.

"I consider it a volunteer opportunity," Austin said. "There is a lot of responsibility both because of the human beings that are involved and the money that is involved."

Austin said he thought his business background might be perceived as a negative by the voters.

"They might think I'm more concerned with the dollar than I would be with a person, but that's not right," he said.

Attebury, 46, a community volunteer, has been on the board since 1998.

She said the outcome of political races is always uncertain.

"The good thing about this race is this was the strongest slate of candidates in my memory," she said. "That says good things about this district."

Thompson, Rivas and Austin will serve four-year terms.

Hite, 64, is a homemaker, community volunteer and retired teacher. The Globe-News was unable to reach Hite on Saturday night.

Saturday's election used cumulative voting. Every voter had three votes to cast in any combination.

AISD switched to cumulative voting in 1999 and elected its first black and Hispanic trustee in May 2000, the first election to use the new process.