Sara Leon & Associates, LLC

Join The Texas Tribune at noon Central Nov. 9-13 as we sit down with lawmakers, local officials and residents of rural Texas communities to discuss the upcoming legislative session, the obstacles to rural education, the state of rural health care, the outlook for economic development, the shifting landscape for natural resources and the perpetual question of broadband access. view article arw

Greg Abbott and Dade Phelan share the same malady. Their mutual toothache’s name is Allen West, and he is the chair of the Republican Party of Texas.  The Republican governor of Texas and the Republican state representative who has claimed more than enough support to be the next speaker of the Texas House are West’s most prominent targets, drawing more personal and pointed attacks than the Democrats you might expect to find in his crosshairs. view article arw

After an election season unlike any other — one that saw dozens of lawsuits concerning voter access and a record 11.4 million Texans casting ballots — state legislators are preparing for a partisan battle over laws that govern early voting, absentee ballots and related matters during the upcoming legislative session.  Monday was the first day to pre-file bills for the 87th session, scheduled to begin Jan. 12. As of 1 p.m., more than 500 bills have been filed in both chambers so far — and thousands more are expected over the next several weeks. While just a small fraction of those bills will make it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk, the influx of legislation gives an early hint at the priorities weighing on lawmakers’ minds this year, with dozens of bills addressing health care, racial injustice, abortion, redistricting and election law.    (10) view article arw

AUSTIN — State Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, appears to have a clear path to become the next speaker of the Texas House after Rep. Geanie Morrison of Victoria, his final GOP rival in the race, withdrew her candidacy Thursday and threw her support behind him.  Morrison withdrew from the race at a meeting of House Republicans in Austin on Thursday afternoon. The meeting was not an official GOP caucus event even though all Republican members were invited.    (09) view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas - Every school day, Leander ISD provides about 11,000 free meals; breakfast. and lunch. Drive-up locations like this one at Cedar Park Middle school help families with kids who are taking classes online.  A federal grant is keeping pantries stocked and the program running into the 2021 school year. view article arw

If you're going by the numbers of Republican and Democratic winners, nothing really happened in the general election in Texas this year. But there's a lot beneath the numbers.  In the 2020 general election, Texans voted to stay the course. The returns are still unofficial, but the overall effect is clear: The state’s congressional delegation will have the same mix of Republicans and Democrats next year as it has today. The Texas Senate will have one more Democrat than it has now, but Republicans still have the majority.  view article arw

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan earlier Wednesday ordered the agency to conduct two sweeps of processing facilities in the state for returned mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Tuesday. view article arw

Cushing ISD results released

November 0608:25 AM

The Nacogdoches County Elections Office on Thursday released results of the Cushing ISD election after accounting for outstanding mail and military ballots. Garnering the most votes among Cushing’s ISD’s five candidates were Joseph  Owens with 679,  Bobby Brashears with 651 and David “Chuck” Gresham with 454.  Owens and Brashears were announced as presumptive winners late Tuesday, but the third seat was too close to call until outstanding ballots were taken into account. view article arw

In the light of day on Wednesday morning, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the whirlwind of Election Day largely missed Texas.  The partisan makeup of our state Senate and House of Representatives isn’t much different. Same with our congressional delegation. And the folks who’ve controlled state government for the last few years will continue to control it for at least another two. view article arw

For Republicans in Texas, Tuesday was a great night. Not only did they stymie Democrats’ efforts to flip the Texas House, but they did so with often wide margins.  Democrats managed to pick up only one Republican seat, while losing a Democratic seat, leaving them exactly where they have been for two years: nine short of a majority in the 150-member chamber.  “I'm just overjoyed by how successful our state Republicans were across the country last night,” said Austin Chambers, head of the Republican State Legislative Committee, in a call with reporters. “I believe that this is more impressive of a win for Republicans than 2010 was. Because this was a presidential cycle and we actually had an opponent this time around. In 2010, the Democrats did nothing, Republicans called them sleeping. This time, they spent over half a billion dollars and we beat the hell out of them.”    (06) view article arw

Democrats have said for years that Texas is a nonvoting state that could flip blue with massive voter turnout. But although the 2020 presidential election brought more turnout than Texas has seen in almost 30 years, no blue wave washed across the state.  “Texas has changed somewhat, but it hasn’t changed from its basic nature,” said longtime lobbyist Bill Miller. “The more people that vote, the more it will reflect” that. view article arw

AUSTIN — Beaumont Republican Dade Phelan announced Wednesday that he has enough support to be voted in by his colleagues as Texas House speaker.  The announcement came less than a day after an election in which Democrats’ plan to flip the chamber flopped and Republicans held onto their majority despite tough challenges.  Phelan, who was re-elected Tuesday for his fourth term, said 83 state representatives were backing his quest. view article arw

Texas Republicans used massive voter turnout gains in Houston and along the Texas border to squelch any chance Democrats had in turning Texas blue for the first time in 44 years.  Going into Tuesday’s elections, Democrats were on a mission to drive up victory margins in Houston, along Interstate 35, and along the Texas border. But what they didn’t count on was that Republicans and President Donald Trump would dramatically increase their vote totals in Houston and along the Texas border to assure Texas would not be able to flip even if Democrats dominated along the I-35 corridor, as they did. view article arw

Clear skies across Texas ushered voters to the polls for a historic Election Day on Tuesday, even as a political storm hovers at the close of an anxious, divisive presidential election unlike any other.  Masked up against a pandemic and determined to be a part of the record-breaking turnout in Texas and across the nation, voters lined up before dawn at schools and shopping malls and gigantic brand-new voting centers. view article arw

The city and the Texas General Land Office have agreed to a 30-day delay of the state’s takeover of Houston’s Harvey housing repair program while they iron out a new deal for the funds.  The GLO got federal approval last month to take over the roughly $1.3 billion in federal housing grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The deadline for the city to wind down its programs was Nov. 6. view article arw

This year proved another disappointment for Texas Democrats, who underperformed the high expectations they had set for themselves, particularly in a hotly contested battle for dominance in the Texas House. Some thought it might happen as early as 2014 — and then 2016, and, of course, in 2018.  When all those elections proved disappointing, Texas Democrats said 2020 would be the year, given record voter turnout, a once-in-a-century pandemic that grew out of control under Republican leadership and a highly controversial president.    (04) view article arw

Texas is playing host to a series of high-stakes contests up and down the ballot, from a presidential race that could be the state’s closest in a generation to the fight for the Texas House majority. view article arw

SAN BENITO — The city’s rival political factions are counting on a record turnout to draw winning votes in crowded city and school board elections that could change the balance of power on the city commission and school board.  In the city election, 11 candidates are running in four races, including a three-candidate scramble for the mayor’s gavel.  Meanwhile, five seats are up for grabs in the school election, in which 11 candidates are on the ballot. view article arw

During early voting in Texas, 9,718,648 people — 57.3% of registered voters — voted in person and by mail, surpassing the total number of votes cast in 2016. In 2016, 8,969,226 Texans cast a ballot in the general election. Texas has added 1.8 million registered voters since the 2016 election, and this year's overall percentage turnout is still below 2016's turnout of 59.4%.     view article arw

Report Shows Average Pay Raise Of $3,800 To $5,200 For Texas Teachers - Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) today released a report showing significant pay raises for Texas teachers for the 2019-2020 academic year as a result of House Bill 3 (HB 3). Statewide, Texas teachers who have more than 5 years of experience received an average pay raise of over $5,200, while teachers who have been working up to five years received an average pay raise of more than $3,800. It is worth noting that the pay increases are averages of all teacher raises in Texas; individual raises vary. The pay raises are part of a $1.1 billion annual investment in additional compensation that started last year for Texas teachers, counselors, librarians, and school nurses.     view article arw

It's been an election season like no other. Brace yourself for a results process that lasts longer than in recent elections.  The presidential race in Texas looks more competitive than it has been in decades. More than 8 million Texans have already voted early. Many candidates will opt for social distancing instead of their normal results watch parties. And there's a decent chance we won't know many of the results by the time everyone goes to bed. If you're planning on watching the votes tick in, here are a few things to keep in mind.    (03) view article arw

Two days to go and the tension across America is high. Who will emerge victorious at the end of Tuesday’s Election Day? Will we even know before going to bed that night?  While the eyes of the nation — and, indeed, the world — are on the race for president, there are many important races further down the ballot here in Brazos County. In addition to races for city councils, school boards and numerous county offices, we have a critical Bryan school bond election and a number of proposed changes to Bryan’s city charter.  The Eagle’s Editorial Board interviewed the candidates in contested Brazos County races via Zoom and talked to Bryan school and city officials. Today, we recap our recommendations, in ballot order: view article arw

SAN BENITO — Residents like John Estrada helped drive a record early voting turnout in two of the city’s most hotly contested elections in decades.  On Tuesday, residents go to the polls to vote in crowded city and school board elections, each fielding 11 candidates.  During the extended, three-week early voting period, 4,401 residents cast ballots in the city election while 6,877 voted in the school board election as of Thursday night, Remi Garza, the county’s elections administrator, said.  “I think it’s safe to say they’ve never had this level of turnout,” he said. view article arw

Both Fort Bend ISD and the city of Sugar Land unanimously approved their legislative priorities for the upcoming 87th session of the Texas Legislature during their respective meetings Oct. 19 and Oct. 20.  State legislators are expected to meet in Austin from January through May for what many officials are calling an unprecedented session as the state faces revenue shortages and shifting priorities due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. view article arw

This election’s October surprise is no surprise at all. It’s the novel coronavirus, and cases are rising as people are voting. Look no further than the nation’s 22nd-largest city — El Paso — effectively shut down because of a COVID-19 surge right in the middle of early voting. It’s not necessarily that people can’t vote — they’ve been told to go ahead, with caution — but about what’s likely to be on their minds as they fill out those ballots.  Early voting in El Paso, as in other parts of the state, has been energetic. Through Monday, 36.4% of the county’s registered voters had cast ballots in person or by mail, ahead of 2016’s 35.1% with four days of early voting left to go. view article arw

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick repeated unsubstantiated claims in a Thursday interview that the only way Republicans can lose on Election Day is if Democrats cheat.  “The Democrats have just decided this election, Mark, we don't have to pay attention to any laws. We're gonna use COVID as an excuse to steal the election, and that's what they're trying to do everywhere,” Patrick, a Republican, said during a radio interview on “The Mark Davis Show.” “If the president loses Pennsylvania or North Carolina, Mark, or Florida, they'll lose it because they stole it.” view article arw

LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Students in the Lufkin school district are pedaling, playing, and learning all at the same time. At Herty Primary the students are using Think and Learn Smart Cycles and doing what is called kinesthetic learning.  “They’re maintaining attention, they’re using hand/eye coordination, they’re using their feet, all while learning, so kinesthetic is just body movement at the same time as learning,” said Special Education teacher, Kayla Tierney.  This is Henry, a kindergartner at Herty Primary. He is pedaling on a Think and Learn Smart Cycle as part of a lesson in letter recognition, and beginner academic skills. His mother, Amanda Smith, is the digital learning specialist for the district. view article arw

A nine-seat change in the Texas House could affect the balance of power in the Texas Capitol, but also in Congress. Texas lawmakers will draw political maps next year that could remain in place until the 2030 census.  If Democrats win the majority of seats in the Texas House on Tuesday, they’ll have a way to push congressional redistricting out of Republican hands and into federal courts, plus they’ll have a powerful lever for negotiation with the Republican governor and Texas Senate on everything else.  The political attention is on the political maps lawmakers will be drawing next year, because the way those maps are drawn is often the difference between an elected official and a mere candidate — and the maps will remain in use for as long as 10 years.   (30) view article arw

Wearing T-shirts, buttons or hats supporting political candidates at the polls is illegal. But in the pandemic era, voters are now being reminded that the electioneering rules also apply to face masks.  According to the law, “a person may not electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, or political party” within 100 feet of a polling place.  “It's really a protected area that should be just focused on providing the access to the ballot and voting processes without any kind of interruption or any kind of chaos, or stress, or concerns,” said Bruce Sherbet, elections administrator for Collin County.    (29) view article arw

The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that limits counties to one ballot drop-off site can stand.The order had been under a stay. Tuesday’s unanimous ruling topples two lower court rulings — from a Travis County district court and the Third Court of Appeals in Austin — that had previously found the restriction to be an unacceptable hindrance of voting rights.  The all-Republican court wrote that Abbott’s order, along with others before it, “provides Texas voters more ways to vote” than the Election Code and “does not disenfranchise anyone.”  “Governor Abbott’s order rightfully bolsters the security of dropped-off ballots,” said Attorney General Ken Paxton. “The Texas Supreme Court correctly stopped the district court’s unlawful injunction and preserved election integrity.”  Amid the pandemic, Abbott in a July 27 order expanded the early voting period by about a week. He also allowed ballots to be dropped off before Election Day, as opposed to just that day, as the law provides. view article arw

Last Week of Early Voting

October 2808:41 AM

This is the last week to early vote. Casting a vote is a fundamental right that is more important now than ever. Our Texas public school children are relying on you to use your voice and your vote on their behalf. As our friends at Raise Your Hand Texas say in this inspiring video, public education is always on the ballot. If you need help preparing your ballot so that you don't need to spend more time than necessary in the voting booth, visit To see what candidates think about public education issues, use  view article arw

The announcement from the state representative from San Antonio comes after state Rep. Senfronia Thompson filed to run for the post Friday. Democrats are hoping to gain control of the House this November.  State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer announced Monday that he is running for Texas House speaker, becoming the second Democrat in the lower chamber to launch a bid for the gavel.  Martinez Fischer, from San Antonio, joins state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the longest-serving woman and Black person in the history of the Texas Legislature, in the race. Both filings come ahead of a November election in which Democrats are within striking distance of winning control of the Republican-held House for the first time in nearly two decades. view article arw

An aide said Bush has heard from “several donors” who want him to consider running. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, meanwhile, “is absolutely planning on running again,” a spokesman said. Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush will “keep all options open” about a potential bid for attorney general in 2022 as current Attorney General Ken Paxton grapples with a mutiny from his senior staff and the spectre of a criminal investigation, a senior adviser for Bush said Monday.  “Several donors have asked Commissioner Bush to consider running for Attorney General in 2022 in light of the recent allegations about that office,” Ash Wright, a senior political adviser for Bush, said in a statement to The Texas Tribune. “Commissioner Bush has always said he will ‘keep all options open’ and that remains his policy. Like many conservative leaders around the state, he is very concerned about the allegations regarding Paxton.” view article arw

In the latest sign that Texas really is in play in the presidential race, Michael Bloomberg will be spending about $1 million a day the last week of the campaign on statewide advertising in Texas in both Spanish and English to help Democratic nominee Joe Biden defeat President Donald Trump.  Howard Wolfson, a top Bloomberg adviser, told The New York Times on Tuesday that the billionaire businessman and former Democratic presidential contender — who has already committed $100 million to helping Biden in the critical swing state of Florida —had asked his team to poll other states where Trump might be especially vulnerable and both Ohio and Texas looked ripe.  Altogether,Bloomberg’s super PAC, Independence USA, will spend $15 million on advertising in those two states beginning Wednesday, the Times reported. The Texas ads will attack the president for mismanaging the response to the coronavirus. The state is seeing a third wave of the virus, along with much of the rest of the country. view article arw