By Bill Spinks

The race for a school board seat in the Midlothian Independent School District received a sudden jolt over the weekend by the withdrawal of a famous challenger.

Taya Kyle, a candidate for Place 7 on the board, announced on Sunday in a social media video that she is pulling out of the race. She cited her responsibilities with the Chris Kyle Foundation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, raising her two kids, and lots of prayer as factors in her decision.

"I’ve had to do a lot of considering and rethinking with coronavirus, like a lot of you," Kyle said in her video. "I’m in this position where I’m really having to look at life and say, at what point is doing a lot too much?

"I have to admit the reality of my life, and I have to know that there are some people who will be disappointed," Kyle added. "Now is not the right time for me to be running for the school board. It’s hard because I really care about this community."

Kyle’s announcement leaves incumbent trustee Andrea Walton unopposed for a second three-year term in her Place 7 seat.

"I applaud my opponent for recognizing the hard work put forth by all school board members who value serving students, teachers and taxpayers," Walton said Monday in a statement. "Public service requires incredible balance and sacrifice. No one exemplifies that better than teachers who have demonstrated this balance through the most challenging of times we have ever experienced.

"I honor her decision to place her family first, and I am blessed to have grandparents support my efforts in public service. I am proud to be part of the MISD family, and wish her goodwill in future endeavors honoring veterans and pray we all can see our common bonds. I believe, we share a common goal: excellence."

Taya Kyle is the widow of Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL whose autobiography, "American Sniper," became a bestseller in 2012. The book was made into a movie two years later.

In February 2013, Chris Kyle and a friend were murdered at a shooting range in Erath County. A former Marine that suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, whom Kyle was mentoring, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In the other MISD board race, incumbent Place 6 trustee Tami Tobey is seeking a second term. Tobey is being opposed by David Thomas and Will Marks.

In her video, Kyle directed pointed criticisms at Tobey, whose pictures surfaced in June showing Tobey dressed in blackface at a Halloween party. Tobey refused to resign from the board and will remain on the ballot for reelection.

"We would have expelled a student for showing up in blackface," Kyle said. "We would have fired an administrator or a teacher who showed up in blackface. There’s no excuse and no tolerance. And yet, that exists on the board … We have to show we’re intolerant of excuses for racist actions. We have to show that bad behavior on the board is not tolerable. We have to show that we expect people on the board to work with others well.

"We just have to be brave enough to look at the truth and hold people accountable. And I think the majority of the people on the board and the administration are already going to do that. I don’t think it’s going to take me. I think it’s going to take God convicting hearts, and I think He’s already doing that."

The school board election was originally scheduled for May 2, but was postponed to November following a proclamation by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in March, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing governing entities the option of doing so. The MISD board of trustees voted unanimously on March 23 to move the election.