An Austin School Board trustee promoted a political candidate during a recent District Advisory Council meeting. Julie Cowan, the District 4 Trustee, vocalized who she thought the attending parents, teachers, and other administration should vote for.
“You have to care about the elections coming up in March,” she began. “I do want you to know that there is somebody running against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in the Republican primary and in the Democrat primary. So a lot of folks are thinking that those of us who normally vote Democrat might want to vote in the Republican primary this year.”
Cowan then quipped how the idea of voting Republican is difficult, which got a few chuckles from the audience. “It might be hard to get that stamp on your card, I understand, but Scott Milder who is with Friends of Texas Public Schools announced his candidacy for Lt. Governor.” Cowan paused briefly and was encouraged by other members to keep going.
“He obviously does support Texas public schools,” she said, “and you might want to look him up and see…We really need our employees to go vote,” Cowan concluded. “We’re not going to tell you how to vote, we’re just going to tell you to vote.”
Less than a minute after advocating how parents and teachers should vote, Cowan said she will not advocate how staff should vote.
Who a trustee promotes on his or her own time is completely their concern, but it’s problematic when an elected official engages in advocacy for or against a candidate – and even disparagement of a political party – during a publicly-funded district meeting.
Cowan is up for re-election on the school board this year.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.

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