Humble ISD Trustee Nancy Morrison summarized the evening best when, at the end of a 90-minute Humble ISD candidate forum, she declared, “I have learned something from each candidate and each question that was asked tonight.”

Morrison is the incumbent running unopposed for Position 7. She was one of six Humble ISD trustee candidates who attended a forum hosted by the Kingwood Area Democrats (KAD) on March 6 at Los Cucos Restaurant in Kingwood.

Two candidates are vying for Position 6, Colin Carney, the current incumbent, and Lori Twomey.

- Kingwood Area Democrats host Humble ISD trustee candidate forum -

Position 2 is held by Keith Lapeze who is not seeking re-election. Pursuing his position are Dr. Janie Branham, Nikki Roux and Robert Scarfo. A fourth candidate, Ryan Engolio, did not attend the forum due to a previous commitment, according to KAD President Charlotte Reinemeyer.

Candidates introduced themselves then were asked a series of questions.

Branham is a bilingual teacher and principal who opened Crespo Elementary School. Roux is a nurse, attorney and currently chief nursing officer for Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital. Scarfo has grandchildren currently in the district, one with special needs. He emphasized his previous two terms as an Humble ISD trustee. Twomey is an attorney who has experience working with the needs of special needs students. Carney, a CPA with a finance background, outlined his experience as a newly appointed trustee just as Hurricane Harvey hit the Lake Houston area. Morrison wants to serve another four years to see the recently passed bond issue come to fruition.

The candidates outlined their volunteer work.

Roux talked about her blended family of five currently attending four different schools and emphasized the relationship of her employer, Memorial Hermann, with the school district. Scarfo was co-chair of previous bond committees, was selected to present the community bond proposal to the board, and recently helped organize a local Down’s Syndrome networking group.

Twomey was also a member of the citizen bond committee and provides pro bono work for special education cases. Carney honed his volunteer experience after Harvey when he and his wife helped establish a shelter at a nearby school. Branham raises funds for veterans and various Lake Houston charities, including FamilyTime.

“Look at the people running for school board,” Morrison told KAD. “This is service above self, giving our hearts to our kids. This is what we do.”

Regarding changing attendance zones, Carney, Morrison and Roux all emphasized the need for community input before board decisions are made and boundaries are set.

“Attendance zones are a big deal,” Twomey said while Scarfo called them a “…necessary evil. We can’t have students in one school in portable buildings while another school sits empty.”

“Changing attendance zones is very painful,” Scarfo added, “and it seems to be the end of the world, yet, a year later, everything is fine. Kids are more resilient than their parents.”

Candidates showed off their financial prowess when asked about House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 2, known as the “tax cap bills.”

“By the end of session, the bills will be much more distilled,” Roux said. “We’re going to see lots of changes from what we’re looking at now.”

Scarfo encouraged voters to focus on House Bill 3, introduced by Lake Houston’s state Rep. Dan Huberty, which increases the state’s per-student contributions to school districts. “I am encouraged by that bill,” Scarfo said. “Support Dan. Call your representatives.”

Candidates agreed that there is no need to establish a dedicated school for special needs students. “What we have in place is working,” Branham said. “What we need is more services.” Scarfo favors clustering programs, if necessary, but said a special school would be segregation. “Meet their needs where they live,” Twomey said.

As a final question, candidates were asked to name the last book that they read, then summarize why they were running. Branham said she had just finished reading a book to a fourth-grade class while Twomey wanted to know if reading Senate Bill 3 would qualify. As a tax and accounting consultant, Carney said he had read the new IRS regulations. Scarfo’s last book was “Behavioral Economics.” Roux just finished Jane Austin’s “Persuasion” and Morrison’s choice was “A Gentleman in Moscow.”

Early voting takes place April 22-30. Election Day is May 4.

Tom Broad
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Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, hoabinhre, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.