Coppell Chronicle Vol. 3, No. 47
Coppell Runner Wins Antarctic Marathon • Who’s Ready for Another Campaign Season? • City Finds New Uses for Federal Funds • Zoning Change Fixes Flub
Cold enough for you? Let me try to get your blood pumping by saying something that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will say at least 50 times this afternoon: “Here we goooo!”
Coppell Runner Wins Antarctic Marathon
This frigid weather we’re enduring at the moment may be eliciting fond memories for one Coppell resident.
Last month, Michael Higgins achieved athletic glory in less-than-ideal conditions. Not only did he win the Antarctic Ice Marathon, he dominated the race that happens about 600 miles from the South Pole. Higgins’ time of 4:01:45 was nearly five minutes faster than the runner-up’s result of 4:06:31.
Participating in the Antarctic Ice Marathon, which began in 2005, is an expensive endeavor. According to the race’s website, the entry fee for the 2023 edition was $21,500. That covered roundtrip airfare between Punta Arenas, Chile, and Union Glacier, Antarctica — a flight of four-plus hours — as well as meals for the three-day itinerary and accommodations in a double-walled tent featuring polar sleeping bags.
The Dec. 13 marathon was Higgins’ fifth 26.2-mile race and the first one he won. In fact, he told me this was the first time he’d finished in a marathon’s top 10.
“It’s really not my favorite race,” the Coppell Running Club member said with a laugh.
Higgins, his family, and other Coppell Running Club members attended the City Council meeting on Tuesday, when Mayor Wes Mays read a proclamation designating Jan. 9 as “Michael Higgins Appreciation Day.”
“This race presents a truly formidable and genuine Antarctic challenge with underfoot conditions comprising snow and ice throughout, an average windchill temperature of -20 Celsius [-4 Fahrenheit], and the possibility of strong Katabatic winds to contend with,” the mayor said.
Higgins has lived in Coppell for about a year and a half. He has three young sons, and he joked during the meeting that he broke a sweat just trying to keep one of them away from the audio-visual equipment in the council chambers.
“Nobody could believe a guy from Texas — where it’s 105 and 107 [degrees] — was conditioned to this,” Higgins told the council before relaying his new mantra: “Texas fire will beat Antarctic ice any day of the week.”
Higgins is not the only person who’s done Coppell proud lately:
• Former City Council Member Nancy Yingling and doubles partner Barb Skinner of Indianapolis won gold medals for their age bracket at the USA Pickleball National Championships, which were contested in November at Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch.
• Coppell High School students Divya Ghanta and Roma Jani and New Tech High @ Coppell students Piper Baranowski, Ben Hall, and Preston Johnson sang their way to Texas All-State Choir honors. This was Jani’s fourth all-state accolade. Meanwhile, Coppell High School junior Deepali Kanchanavally earned All-State Orchestra honors for the second time as a cellist.
• Fourteen members of the Coppell High School band program were named Texas All-State Musicians: Shruthi Avadhanula, Siddarth Bellam, Fernando Benavides, Akshat Ghuge (third time), Daniel Henze, Kunal Katiyar, Dhruva Mateti, Vibhav Rajan, Rohan Sharma (second time), Ryan Sierra, Stayton Slaughter, Lindsey Won (fourth time), Dael Yoo, and Lauren Yoo.
Who’s Ready for Another Campaign Season?
Wednesday is the first day of the filing period for the spring municipal elections. Candidates have until 5 p.m. on Feb. 16 to toss their hats in the ring. Early voting will begin on April 22, and Election Day is May 4.
Here’s a look at which seats will be on Coppell-area ballots and who currently occupies them.
COPPELL CITY COUNCIL
Every Coppell voter gets to vote for every position, and there are no geographic districts.
Mayor — Wes Mays was elected mayor in 2021, and he intends to secure a second term as the city’s presiding officer. He was previously elected to the Place 3 seat on the City Council in 2012, 2014, 2017, and 2020.
Place 2 — Brianna Hinojosa-Smith has been elected to the City Council six times: Place 3 in 2005, 2008, and 2011, and Place 2 in 2015, 2018, and 2021. She had to give up the Place 3 seat in 2012 when she sought the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 6.
Place 4 — Kevin Nevels was elected in 2021, and he has announced he’s seeking a second term.
Place 5 — John Jun was elected in 2020 and went unchallenged in 2023. He’s moving on because he’s the Republican nominee in Texas House District 115. Whoever wins this seat will complete the three-year term Jun began last May.
Place 6 — Biju Mathew was elected in 2018 and reelected in 2021, when his challenger was endorsed by two council members who were stepping down. I’m mentioning that only because it’s highly unusual.
COPPELL ISD BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Every voter in Coppell ISD gets to vote for every trustee, and there are no geographic districts.
Place 6 — Nichole Bentley won this seat in 2018 by vanquishing two rivals, including a doofus who subsequently decided to launch a newsletter. She went unchallenged in 2021.
Place 7 — Jobby Mathew was appointed by the other trustees in November of 2022, after Tracy Fisher gave up this seat because she was the Democratic nominee in State Board of Education District 14. Mathew, who is not related to Biju Mathew, was unchallenged in the 2023 special election to finish the remainder of Fisher’s term.
IRVING CITY COUNCIL
A big chunk of Coppell ISD is in Irving, where the council has both geographic and at-large seats.
District 6 — Al Zapanta was elected in 2018 and went unchallenged in 2021. District 6 includes Valley Ranch, Hackberry Creek, and other neighborhoods north of State Highway 114.
District 8 — Dennis Webb ousted a two-term incumbent from this at-large seat in 2021. Webb was elected to the District 3 seat representing Irving’s west side in 2011, 2014, and 2017, but he had to give that up due to term limits.
CFBISD BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Coppell’s Riverchase neighborhood and about half of Valley Ranch are within the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, which uses a unique method of conducting elections called cumulative voting. There are two seats on the ballot this year, so each voter will get two votes. You can give both of your votes to a single candidate or divide them among two candidates.
The seats are occupied by Sally Derrick and Cassandra Hatfield, who emerged from a three-candidate field in 2021. Hatfield is in her first term, and Derrick is in her second. In 2018, she was one of the two winners in a four-candidate field.
LEWISVILLE ISD BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The entire Coppell Greens neighborhood is in Lewisville ISD, as are some other Coppell homes directly south of State Highway 121.
Lewisville ISD adopted single-member districts last year as the result of a lawsuit. (See “Lewisville ISD Alters Election Procedures” in Vol. 3, No. 28.) Coppell was drawn into District 2, which won’t be on the ballot until 2025, but one of the board’s two at-large seats will be up for grabs this year, as will the District 1 seat. Both of the candidates whose terms are expiring this year — Buddy Bonner and Allison Lassahn — reside in District 1, so something’s got to give. Bonner was elected for the first time in 2021, while Lassahn is finishing her second term.
LEWISVILLE CITY COUNCIL
A smidgen of Coppell ISD is in Lewisville, which adopted unique rules for its elections after annexing Castle Hills. Other than the mayor, council members must live in the geographic districts they represent, yet the entire city gets to vote on all of them.
Mayor — TJ Gilmore was elected mayor in 2021. He was previously elected to the Place 3 seat on the City Council in 2011, 2014, and 2017.
District 2 — William Meridith was elected in 2021. District 2 is on the north side of Lewisville.
City Finds New Uses for Federal Funds
The City of Coppell received $10.2 million from the federal government under the American Rescue Plan Act. More than a quarter of that amount was allocated to a pair of programs benefiting local businesses, and nearly a fifth of it paid for the Moore Road Park boardwalk.