Major, Buck earn LHISD Board nods

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

Not since 2012 – and only twice ever – has a Liberty Hill ISD School Board candidate received more than 200 votes, but Saturday’s showing saw four candidates eclipse that mark in the highest turnout the district has seen without a bond on the ballot.

In Place 4, challenger Kathy Major tallied a record number of votes for a candidate in a Liberty Hill school board race with 413. Incumbent Jeff Madison had 242.

Anthony Buck held on to his seat in Place 5, earning the third most votes ever in a contested race despite facing a pair of challengers. Buck grabbed 274 votes to 240 for Jon Branigan and 144 for Russel Martin.

Despite their high vote totals and sizable margins of victory, both were humbled and immediately talking teamwork for a board with a lot on its plate.

“I’m still a little overwhelmed,” Major said Monday. “I’m extremely grateful and humbled. So many people reached out to me and for me. I wanted to maintain a positive camp and represent people well throughout the process.”

For Buck, winning a second term was special.

“I was pleased with the outcome of course,” he said. “It was anybody’s game. I am humbled that that many people would come out and vote for me. I am very grateful.”

The two winning candidates shared many similarities in how they campaigned and what they believed made a difference for them.

“I went into it thinking one voter at a time,” Buck said. “I was going door to door and using personal engagement to just get folks to the polls. Being face to face with voters is a powerful thing. There were some intense times in that door-to-door campaign, but that’s fine because that’s good knowledge as well. I knew I had to get out there and run on my record and my character. I care about the kids and I care about the district.”

On Election Day, Buck sat in his truck not too far from the polling site with a sign encouraging voters to ask him anything they’d like before casting their vote. He said questions ranged from the serious to the random to the casual and fun.

“I got some interesting questions for sure,” he said. “I might have picked up 10 to 15 votes just by engaging people that day.”

Voters knowing exactly who she was and what she stood for was what Major said made the difference for her. Major retired as principal of Liberty Hill Intermediate School last summer.

“In terms of me and my support, I think when you go out and stay as true as you possibly can, and people know me and what I stand for, that makes a difference,” she said. “As I was talking to people throughout the campaign they had no question about me and where I stood. In any campaign it is about a relationship, and what has been so gratifying to me is people still see their relationship with me as relevant.”

Each candidate took great pride in recognizing the impact of the high voter turnout and number of high school seniors who went to the polls for the first time to participate in this election.

“I am grateful for everyone who took the time to come out and vote, regardless of who you voted for,” Buck said. “I was deeply moved by the high school seniors who came up to me and told me I was one of their first votes. Those are lessons they will take into adulthood.”

Major also applauded her opponent, Jeff Madison, for his service and his showing in the election.

“I’d like to give a shout out to Mr. Madison for his campaign and how we both encouraged people to get out and vote no matter who it was for,” she said. “It is very gratifying to me and satisfying part of this campaign that so many people showed up for our kids.”

The candidate forum, sponsored by The Independent, was credited by both for helping raise the profile of the election and educate voters.

“The election forum helped tremendously to help engage the public,” Buck said. “I know there were some people there who voted this time that had never voted before.”

More opportunities to engage the public were important to Major.

“I’m grateful to The Independent for doing the forum because I think that helped a lot of people see and hear what the candidates were all about,” she said. “Our process worked.”

With the election behind them, both candidates said they are ready to tackle the many issues ahead.

For Buck, continuing on the path already set is important.

“The district is doing a pretty good job overall and we’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “I just want to keep that going.”

Among his key issues coming out of the election will be school security and vocational education.

“I want to work on as a team and move forward with the vocational programs,” he said. “I’d like to see a couple of more things. I can’t promise it, but I can promise we will talk about it and get it on the agenda.”

Major hopes to get acclimated and settled in this next level of service to the district she worked in for so many years, with her focus always on doing what’s right for the kids.

“I want to become an effective team member, that is going to be critical,” she said. “Whatever expertise or role I have on the board I need to play it to its fullest. It will be very important that we collaborate together. That word is very important to me. We may not always agree, but we will co-labor together. We must maintain the character of Liberty Hill as we grow.”

Votes will be canvassed during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 15. The newly-elected trustees will take the oath of office at the board’s regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, May 21.

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