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Cason Kirby

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Cason Kirby
Cason Kirby.jpg
Candidate, Tuscaloosa City
School Board, District 4
Elections and appointments
Next generalAugust 27, 2013
Term limitsN/A
Education
Bachelor'sUniversity of Alabama
J.D.University of Alabama
Personal
ProfessionAttorney, Tanner & Guin, LLC
Websites
Campaign website
Cason Kirby is the incoming board member for District 4 of the Tuscaloosa City Schools Board of Education. He defeated incumbent Kelly Horwitz at the election on August 27, 2013.

Biography

Kirby earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama. He also law school at the University of Alabama where he received his J.D.. Kirby is an attorney and practices at Tanner & Guin, LLC.[1]

Elections

2013

Tuscaloosa Board of Education District 4, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngCason Kirby 55% 399
     Nonpartisan Kelly Horwitz Incumbent 45% 327
Total Votes 726
Source: Fox 6 News These results are unofficial.

Funding

Kirby has received $14,200 in donations from the Educate Tuscaloosa PAC according to finance records filed on August 9, 2013.[2]

What was at stake?

Every seat on the Board of Education was up for election on August 27, 2013. Five incumbents were returned to the board including James Minyard in District 1, Earnestine Tucker in District 2, Harry Lee in District 5, Marvin Lucas in District 6 and Erskine Simmons in District 7. The board will have a new chair as Lee Garrison defeated Denise Hills for the open seat. Newcomer Norman A. Crow won the District 3 seat without opposition and Kirby defeated incumbent Kelly Horwitz for the District 4 seat.

A total of 8,627 votes were submitted on August 27, more than doubling the 3,127 votes in the 2009 board election.[3]

Issues

Failing schools

Tuscaloosa City Schools currently has four schools listed as failing according to the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013. Under the provisions of the act, parents of students in these schools may transfer their children to either a non-failing school in the same school system, a non-failing public school in nearby school system that's willing to accept the student or a state-recognized accredited private school. Parents who transfer their children to a private school are eligible for a private school tax credit worth about $3,500 annually per child that they'll receive when they get their tax returns.[4][5]

Tornado recovery efforts

The district is also recovering from a tornado that tore through the city on April 27, 2011. Progress in rebuilding school facilities has taken time with the Alberta School of Performing Arts re-opening as recently as April 2013.[6][7]

Influence of PAC money

Another factor in the 2013 board elections was the emergence of a political action committee (PAC) called Educate Tuscaloosa. The group founded by local businessman Michael Echols has raised $108,250 since April to support board reforms with mailers that criticize the current board’s failure to improve academic performance. A postcard sent by the PAC in April argued that the district was ranked 7th in Alabama in terms of funding but only 87th in the state for academic performance.[8][9] The PAC has donated $14,200 each to the campaigns of Kirby, John Lollar and Renwick Jones. Joe Gattozzi received $15,200 from Educate Tuscaloosa through August 9 and Earnestine Young received $14,000 from the group. Every challenger except Lee Garrison and Denise Hills paid consulting firm Matrix LLC for campaign assistance and polling.[10]

In total, PACs and individual contributions yielded $181,000 in donations in 2013, which exceeded the combined amount raised in the past three election cycles. Candidates spent about $104,000 from campaign coffers between April and August 2013. Smaller contributions were made by NUCOR PAC ($11,000) and Pride PAC II ($3,000), which is also run by Echols.[10] The impacts of these donations were mixed as Young, Gattozzi, Lollar and Jones lost in the election while Kirby won the District 4 seat.

Allegations of voter fraud

On Election Day, an influx of University of Alabama students at the District 4 polls raised concerns about attempts to attract votes through indirect incentives including free drinks and limo rides to voting locations.[11] Additional complaints in District 4 centered on a single address where ten voters had registered but none had resided.[12] These allegations along with the narrow margin of victory led Kelly Horwitz to file a lawsuit against Kirby in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court on September 6, 2013. In the complaint, Horwitz alleges that, "Cason Kirby was declared the winner of the August 27, 2013 election for School Board District 4 of the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama due to offers to bribe, bribery, intimidation or other misconduct calculated to prevent a fair, free and full exercise of the elective franchise."[13] Incoming board Chair Lee Garrison, who received significant student support during his successful 1997 campaign for the Tuscaloosa City Council, denounced these criticisms as "the height of hypocrisy" and insisted that, "There is no difference," between a candidate receiving get-out-the-vote assistance from a collegiate Greek system or from a teachers' union.[14] On November 14, 2013, Judge James Roberts dismissed the case and cited limited evidence of tampering or illegal submission of 200 ballots. Roberts noted that there was only evidence of tampering or illegal submission for 70 ballots.[15]

About the District

Location

Map of Alabama highlighting Tuscaloosa County and Tuscaloosa.png
Tuscaloosa City School district is located in Tuscaloosa County. Tuscaloosa is located northwest of the state capital, Montgomery. According to the 2010 Census, Tuscaloosa is home to 90,898 residents.[16]

Demographics

Tuscaloosa underperforms the rest of Alabama based on median household income and persons below the poverty level, but outperforms the state of Alabama in high school graduation rates. The median household income for Tuscaloosa is $34,359 when compared to $42,934 for the state of Alabama. The percentage of people below poverty level for Tuscaloosa is 29.6% while it is 17.3% for the state of Alabama. 85.3% of persons over the age of 25 have a high school degree, while 81.9% of Alabama residents have a high school degree. The 2010 U.S. Census found that 32.7% of Tuscaloosa residents aged 25 or older have a bachelor's degree, while the same rate is 22% for the state of Alabama.

2010 Census Data for Birmingham, Alabama[17]
Race Tuscaloosa State of Alabama
White 53.8% 68.5%
Black or African American 41.5% 26.2%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.2% 0.6%
Asian 1.8% 1.1%
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander Z 0.1%
Two or more race 1.1% 1.5%
Hispanic or Latino 3.0% 3.9%
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino 52.6% 67%

See also

External links

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Suggest a link

Campaign website
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References

  1. [http://www.casonkirby.com/ Cason Kirby.com, "Elect Carson Kirby" accessed July 26, 2013
  2. Tuscaloosa News, "School board races being backed by cash," August 18, 2013
  3. Tuscaloosa News, "Tuscaloosa City Board of Education: Garrison wins close school board chair race," August 27, 2013
  4. Tuscaloosa News, "Residents turn out to talk about city schools," accessed July 23, 2013
  5. AL.com, "Four Tuscaloosa schools on 'failing' list under Alabama Accountability Act," June 18, 2013
  6. Alabama's 13, "Tuscaloosa school destroyed by tornado begins rebuilding," April 24, 2013
  7. AL.com, "Tuscaloosa to mark 2nd anniversary of tornado with events this week," April 22, 2013
  8. MyFoxAL, " PAC raising money to back challengers in Tuscaloosa School Board elections ," August 2, 2013
  9. Save Tuscaloosa Schools, "Home," accessed August 15, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 Tuscaloosa News, "School board races being backed by cash," August 18, 2013
  11. AL.com, "Sorority offered free drinks to members to vote in Tuscaloosa City Board of Education race," August 28, 2013
  12. Fox 6, "Secretary of State's Office aware of voter fraud complaints in Tuscaloosa," August 27, 2013
  13. AL.com, "Kelly Horwitz vs. Cason Kirby," September 6, 2013
  14. Campbell Robertson, The New York Times, "Secret Society Dips Toe in City Politics, Prompting Lawsuit," September 14, 2013
  15. ABC33/40, "Will Kelly Horwitz appeal election ruling?," November 14, 2013
  16. United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/01/0177256.html. Retrieved on 24 July 2013. 
  17. United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/01/0177256.html. Retrieved on 24 July 2013.