Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is This What Keller ISD Needs?

Keller ISD voters will select school board trustees on May 10th.  When considering candidates, it is important to focus on the issues, but also their ability to fulfill the duties of their office.
It is with a heavy heart that I must bring to light that candidate for Place 5, Jo Lynn Haussmann is in an assisted living facility for dementia issues that have plagued her for several years and affected her employability.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other critical thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.”  For a diagnosis of dementia to occur, at least two core mental functions must be significantly impaired including: memory, communications and language, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning and judgment, and visual perception.
In an Oct. 16, 2012 post on Facebook, Ms. Haussmann said, “It's so frustrating as I want to work but every job I get I bomb because of the dementia issues.  It's very discouraging KNOWING how intelligent and capable I was and now I can't do hardly anything."  In a separate post the next day, she stated, “I am on permanent disability & only 60 [years old].  I am diagnosed with dementia and I have many physical disabilities.”  These comments were deleted in recent days ever since this video surfaced as proof that they existed and were publicly searchable at the time.
It is important to understand that dementia is just one form of Alzheimer’s and is a progressive disease. Because of her relatively young age, we speculate that Ms. Haussmann probably has the more aggressive early-onset dementia.  This type of dementia usually comes on in a person’s 40s or 50s and symptoms are frequently and incorrectly attributed to stress or other illnesses (
Perhaps this explains why Ms. Haussmann was unable to fulfill her role in 2013 on the Watauga City Council and resigned abruptly after only four months.
She was asked to run for this position back in February by Giovanni Capriglioni, State Representative District 98.  Since then Capriglioni and other Tea Party conservatives such as Jonathan Stickland, State Representative District 92 and Matt Krause, State Representative District 93 have actively promoted Ms. Haussmann as the candidate who would “stand up for conservative values” and defeat my “liberal extremist agenda.”
Those who know me know that they couldn’t be more off base, but this isn’t about me.  This is about people who are so focused on drawing political party lines that they are willing to use a woman in assisted living suffering from dementia as their puppet.  It’s also important to note that in school board elections, party affiliations are not declared because they are not supposed to play a factor in the decisions we make for the well being of our children’s education.
Ms. Haussmann is to be commended for her ability to face these personal challenges, but it is important for voters to have all the information they need to understand how these medical challenges will interfere with her ability to fulfill the responsibilities of her role as a KISD trustee.
I have always been and will remain committed to campaigning in a positive manner. Discussing another candidate’s personal information can conflict with that, but I believe there is a difference between mud slinging for the sake of winning and bringing to light a medical issue that directly impacts a candidate’s ability to fulfill their office and make critical decisions.
Anyone with family members or friends suffering with Alzheimer’s and dementia know how difficult and devastating this disease can be, and we don’t encourage them to run for public office.  The kids of Keller ISD are depending on our Board of Trustees to make decisions affecting their future.  The risk is simply too great to have someone with a medical condition such as this to be on that Board.  I sincerely wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors, but being a Trustee on the KISD board should not be one of those endeavors.  My thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family.

*Disclosure: Matt Krause was my opponent in the 2012 election for State Representative District 93. I lost to Krause with 38% of the vote.