Ferguson, Hargrove emerge in LHISD Board contests
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
Ten candidates campaigned for two open spots on the Liberty Hill ISD Board of Trustees, and it was Michael Ferguson in Place 3, and Kristi Hargrove in Place 6 who finished on top when all the votes were counted.
Ferguson – who tallied 836 votes – won the four-candidate contest handily with 49 percent of the vote over Charlene Stephens (338), Steve Messana (282), and Antonio Canas (240).
In Place 6, where six candidates were vying to finish an unexpired term, Hargrove (487) grabbed 28 percent of the vote, ahead of Cory Milam (423), Robert Baughn (302), Aurora Trahan (201), Jennifer Williams (199), and Lockie Ealy (124).
The victory and chance to serve on the LHISD Board was exciting for Hargrove.
“I’m going to be able to serve the community, the teachers, the kids and the parents,” she said. “I got a chance to visit with a lot of people over the last couple of months and it was awesome to hear all the different concerns and to be able to just tell people from the heart how I felt about those concerns. I was very honored to be chosen. It was close, but I’m excited.”
The result gave Ferguson a chance to sit back and catch his breath after a busy campaign.
“Leading up to it, it got very exciting,” he said. “It was a stress reliever in a sense because obviously there is a build up, you get super excited and you don’t realize how intense it is until the next day. It had more anxiety with it than I probably realized, but overall it was fun.”
He felt like the victory was special because of the large number of competitive candidates.
“I’m disappointed for all the other candidates,” he said. “I know what it was like to go out and spend a lot of time campaigning, so I felt for them because all of them, in both places, put in a lot of time and resources and I think any one of them would have been an excellent choice.”
Both Hargrove and Ferguson felt they were able to connect with voters on a culture they referred to as conservative in some ways.
“I feel like most of Liberty Hill is very much on the same track as I am about trying to keep the culture and just taking care of our kids and doing what’s best for them,” she said. “I was very impressed that parents and community members were aware of what’s going on in the districts surrounding us. Getting away from the small town values we have wasn’t something the parents wanted to see happen. They want to make sure their kids are taken care of and loved and not taught things in school that they as parents wanted to teach them at home. It was the family values I was impressed with that families want to keep.”
Ferguson said his open-book approach to communicating with voters made a difference.
“There was a lot of concern going around about our beliefs, whether it was a conservative belief, and basically answering those questions,” he said. “I wanted to run and people see who I am because I don’t plan on changing who I am. I wanted to get on the board to help keep the current culture that we have and everyone has grown to love in Liberty Hill. It is a very, in my opinion, conservative culture. It is very different than your Austin ISDs, your Leander ISDs and I value that. There were a lot of people who had those same values and beliefs.”
As a former educator, who worked in athletics as a coach, and as a teacher and administrator in career and technology, special education, Hargrove said she thinks her experience helped.
“A lot of it was my honesty about being someone that wants to do what’s best for all kids,” Hargrove said. “I think my experience played a big part because not only do I have the years in education, but I also opened schools and was a part of closing down an intermediate campus. I have experience in most of the areas I think we need in Liberty Hill.”
Ferguson mentioned that as he campaigned, one of the big topics he was regularly asked about was masks in the schools, and he hopes to share those concerns soon with the Board.
“The mask thing right now is a huge topic,” he said. “I’ve already had people reach out to me after I won, saying there were some mask things that came out in the district they have concerns with. That’s one of the things I can’t wait to get on the board for and say ‘Guys, these are things that the community has extreme, passionate concerns with and we need to make sure we’re addressing these and putting our district in the right situation, listening to them and making sure our students and staff are still protected and they don’t feel that mental anguish of going to school every day of going with a mask.”
What’s next for both newly-elected board members is a focus on what is to come with the bond projects approved Saturday by voters.
“The biggest thing for me is going to be the bond, because now that it’s passed, now it’s time to start the work,” Ferguson said. “There’s going to be a lot we have to start working on with a budget and that’s the thing I’m absolutely the most excited about.”
Managing the funds and construction is one part, while the logistics is yet another.
“I’m interested in finding out the plans on how to open the new schools,” Hargrove said. “How would we open a second high school? I’ve actually done that as a teacher, but I want to learn what the other board members think and their thoughts on doing it. I want to make sure we’re opening new buildings but also creating new opportunities with the growth and keep the equality campus to campus and equity for all kids.”