With a strategy to weed out extreme politics, Democrat Marianne Arnold will take the next step toward earning her place as the Texas House District 12 representative.

As of press time Tuesday, Arnold, 68, passed opponent and Baylor University graduate Chris Miller, 25, 2,090 to 1,402 votes in Tuesday night’s primary election, with 87 percent of the precincts reporting. The Associated Press called the race before all precinct totals were reported. Arnold will face State Rep. Kyle Kacal, R- Bryan, in the Nov. 6 election. Kacal, who represents about a third of McLennan County, is running unopposed in the primary and was first elected in November 2012.

“Tonight was a great night. I would like to think all of my supporters,” Arnold posted to her Facebook page after the race. “My opponent, Chris Miller, ran a great race. Onward to November. It’s time voters of District 12 had a representative that will fight for them.”

Arnold, who campaigned for Eugene McCarthy in 1968, former Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis in her 2014 gubernatorial race, and a couple local officials, said she threw her hat into the ring after being appalled by the last two legislative sessions.

“Tonight I would like to say that Arnold For Texas House 12 ran an absolutely fantastic campaign and I am proud to have had her as an opponent,” Miller posted on Facebook following the race. “Congratulations on a great election victory, Marianne. I encourage all of my followers to follow Marianne’s campaign to take on the current Republican incumbent Kyle Kacal!”

Arnold’s top priority is public education reform, and she shared similar views with Miller throughout the primary race.

District 12 includes at least two school districts under the Texas Education Agency’s thumb for failing to meet state academic standards for consecutive years. Waco ISD has five schools facing the possibility of closure, and Marlin ISD is fighting to avoid closure overall.

Both districts are more than 80 percent economically disadvantaged.

“In education, state funding [for public schools] has gone down as a percentage of the total budget and there has been cut after cut. It really hurts rural districts. There are more than 30 [school] districts in House District 12. Some of them — like this year in Bremond, they had to eliminate two positions. And that’s a town so small it doesn’t have a Dairy Queen,” Arnold said in February. “Waco has several schools that are facing either closure or serious reorganization by the Texas Education Agency. In Robertson County, Hearne just barely escaped being taken over by the TEA. And Marlin was taken over by the TEA.”

Arnold grew up in more economically disadvantaged surroundings, with a family that didn’t have money for orthodontics and a best friend who had her teeth pulled at 15 because her parents couldn’t afford a dentist, she wrote on her website.

A retired accountant with more than 20 years of experience, Arnold has 18 years as a plant-tissue researcher at Texas A&M University.

She also wants to shift the focus at the state level from “extreme issues” to issues state representatives should already have a stake in, including education, infrastructure and health care, she said earlier this year.

“We need to cut back on high-stakes testing because we’re spending a lot of money on it,” Arnold said mid-February. “And we need a different way to rate schools so that struggling schools get help rather than punishment.”

Arnold promised to represent District 12’s diversity and growth if she is elected in November. Being retired gives her all the time she needs to run for office and serve, she said.

Shelly Conlon has covered K-12 education for the Tribune-Herald since July 2016. Prior to the Tribune-Herald, she was the managing editor for the Waxahachie Daily Light, and an intern for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

Recommended for you