Tarrant County College trustee Bill Greenhill and challenger Laura Forkner Pritchett debate at the Fort Worth Report Runoff Debate May 25 at Texas Wesleyan University. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Incumbent Bill Greenhill and newcomer Laura Forkner Pritchett shared sharply differing views on how well Tarrant County College is operating.

After emerging from a four-person race, Greenhill and Pritchett will battle head to head in a June 10 runoff to represent District 4 on TCC’s board of trustees.

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The candidates focused much of the conversation on TCC’s financial management and the tax rate set by the board. They appeared in a May 25 debate at Texas Wesleyan University hosted by the nonpartisan Fort Worth Report, KERA and SteerFW. 

Early voting begins May 30 and ends June 6.

The candidates are vying for a six-year term to represent District 4, which includes west Fort Worth, Azle, Haslet, Watauga, North Richland Hills and Haltom City. 

Greenhill started the debate by pointing to his experience as to why voters should re-elect him. 

His 10 years on the board has given him an understanding of what’s going on in the college, Greenhill said. He is able to support the numerous programs that the college offers to students. 

“As a trustee, I’m doing this as a community service about putting students first,” Greenhill added.

Pritchett said she appreciated Greenhill’s time on the board, but two terms are enough. 

“It’s time that somebody steps up and shows some true leadership and governance,” Pritchett said.

She criticized Greenhill and the TCC board’s handling of the budget. She said too much funding is going to the administration instead of workforce development programs.  

Pritchett said she would look closely at the budget to see if there was any waste or fraud.

“Let’s treat this as if it were a business,” Pritchett added. 

Greenhill defended the college’s spending, which he said has been frugal despite reduced funding from the state Legislature, which has shifted more of the burden to local taxpayers. He also noted TCC hasn’t raised its tax rate since 2019. 

Although the rate has remained the same, TCC residents are paying more in property taxes because of higher appraisals, Pritchett noted. 

“The college has a responsibility not just to say, ‘Give me $500 million more because I asked for it,” Pritchett added.  

DEI in public colleges   

Texas lawmakers appear poised to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion programs in the state’s public universities. 

Pritchett wants to eliminate DEI at TCC and emphasized that position during the debate.

The college needs to focus on traditional academics and job skill development and TCC should base its hiring on merit, not appearances, Pritchett said.

“I don’t know why we continue to be so divisive in our policies,” Pritchett said. “The school needs to focus on job workforce development and not on the color of somebody’s skin.” 

Greenhill said it was a non-issue. 

Because Texas Senate Bill 17 is likely to become law, TCC will follow whatever guidelines are provided by the state, Greenhill said. 

“We will follow the law,” Greenhill added. 

Greenhill added that TCC already hires staff on merit and not on race. 

Pritchett said that TCC has an entire department for DEI. She also asserted that Elva LeBlanc, the TCC chancellor, has spoken in favor of race-based hiring. 

Greenhill responded: “That’s, of course, a false statement.”

TCC accountability 

Candidates were asked how they would evaluate and hold accountable LeBlanc, who became TCC’s chancellor last year.

Greenhill said that he has full confidence in LeBlanc because of her experience and that TCC already has a review process for the chancellor. 

“LeBlanc is a wonderful chancellor,” Greenhill added. 

Pritchett said she was ready to work with LeBlanc after her election but emphasized the job of the trustees is to have oversight over the chancellor. 

“I wonder if he has confused the role of a trustee,” Pritchett said of Greenhill. “It is the board of trustees who have oversight over the chancellor instead of the chancellor having oversight over the trustees.” 

Disclosure: Bill Greenhill has been a financial supporter of the Fort Worth Report. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at juan.salinas@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Juan Salinas II

Born and raised in the North Side of Fort Worth. Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow. He is a Tarrant County College transfer student who is currently studying journalism at the University of Texas at...