ABOVE: Gerry Monroe
Leading up to Election Day (November 7th), the Forward Times will take a look at each of the three candidates running for HISD’s District 9 Trustee seat.
Gerry Monroe: The Activist
He once made it rain with dollar bills at a recent board meeting; he was among those leading the campaign and holding picket signs to oust former embattled superintendent Terry Grier; and now he’s running for elected office for the first time. Like him or hate him, Gerry Monroe’s activism has lit a fire under some voters in the District IX race. His consistent presence at school board meetings, rallies, protests, and the work of the United Urban Alumni Association he founded, has plunged this unlikely candidate into a position where his name recognition might just force a runoff in December.
If Wanda Adams is “The Politician” and Karla Brown is “The Educator,” Monroe is clearly “The Activist.”
Though he’s not the incumbent, Gerry probably leads the pack when it comes to accumulating earned media due to his “colorful” presence at public education events, some in the community wonder if a potential “Trustee Monroe” on the school board brings more trouble than help for this community. Some District IX voters point to his profanity-laden Facebook videos and contentious, public, face-to-face interactions with elected officials and board members as reasons they like his energy, but question his methods and ability to govern.
IS THERE BITE BEHIND THE BARK?
While it’s clear Monroe is a consistent, avid fighter for all things related to public education, records show he hasn’t voted in almost 10 years– since Obama first ran for President.
Monroe, an alumnus of Jack Yates High School’s legendary 1985 football team that won the state championship, is now hoping to trade in his football cleats for a seat on the school board. He says common sense is lacking in the direction the current board is heading.
Monroe points to the failing state of our school system and corruption on the board as the reason for his aggressive pushback.
“Anyone who looks at the state of our school system and doesn’t get upset, isn’t paying attention,” says Monroe. He says Wanda Adams and some on the board have allowed the current and former superintendents to run free without oversight and governance from the board.
“Over and over they’ve voted to give superintendents six-figure bonuses while our schools continue to fail, our programs are cut, and our teachers are under resourced. As a parent, seeing this happen disgusted me, and encouraged me to run for office,” concluded Monroe who still has a child attending school in the district.
Monroe claims the school board and the Teachers’ Union (Houston Federation of Teachers) have been giving the superintendent and his top brass at the administration building a pass, and his presence on the board could bring that to a halt. Parents like Keri Hicks, whose daughter now attends Westbury, says there’s much work to be done. “I sent my daughter to Baylor’s middle school magnet program because of the added resources and higher graduation rates that usually come along with the title, but high teacher turnover left me underwhelmed,” concluded Hicks.
These issues and more will drive voters to the polls on November 7, 2017 to decide who will take the oath in January to represent the constituents of HISD’s District IX.
All three candidates will be participating in the “Gloves Off: HISD District IX Trustee Race” debate sponsored by the Forward Times, at the Sunnyside Multiservice Center on October 4th at 6:30PM. Community members are invited to attend, and participate in the online poll.