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Educational assistant’s school board run inspired by students

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Sergio Gonzalez, RISD District 4 candidate

Sergio Gonzalez, a former Marine and recent college graduate, is running for the District 4 position on the Roswell Independent School District’s school board.

Gonzalez’s slogan is “Always for the Youth, Always for the Future.” He decided to challenge incumbent Ruben Sanchez when he found out Sanchez would be running unopposed.

“I just feel like I’m going to be a strong voice for our youth,” he said. “I always have put that out there for every campaign, and I will continue to. That’s one of my main things.”

For two years, Gonzalez has been employed as an educational assistant at the Dexter Consolidated Schools. He has taught health and physical education, substitutes as needed, and also works with special education students at the middle and high schools. His students have inspired him to consider being a teacher in the future and to run in this election.

Gonzalez, 42, calls himself an “idealist” who wants to meet the needs of local students. He believes his communication skills and military background will be assets to the school board.

If elected, his priorities are to look into adding ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs for the schools, adding film and journalism opportunities for students, curbing cellphone usage in classrooms and looking into the possibility of a consolidated high school to bring in more funding and better technology to local classrooms.

“I would be for it if it brings us better technology to the schools, and if it’s something that is foreseen as a majority of the public and the students as building camaraderie between the schools,” Gonzalez said of a consolidated high school. “… It would be a tough challenge at first, but if they were to go through with something like that — I think that Roswell would be definitely be one of the top contenders in the state — as they already are. It could be a positive thing in the future, but at first, it could be something that kids are not going to be willing to do so. …”

In his own words, his responsibility if elected to the board is to meet the needs of students, enforce current policies and create new ones, and for the board to work together and vote on important matters.

“As a board member, I will fight to get better programs,” Gonzalez said. “I will fight to figure out with the school board and how to get more substitutes. And I will fight for those kids that are in our district, and all the other districts as well, that have been left behind. I’m going to tell you right now — and I’m proud of this because I was given a second opportunity.

“I made the wrong decisions as a young teen. I got married early, got divorced early and I had dropped out of school, so I can tell you from personal experience. And I came back and I had to go to University (High School) to graduate from there. … Proudly I graduated from University. I got my diploma. So I’m one that can relate to a lot of students that they feel like they’ve been left behind or some of the teachers don’t care about them, or if I have to, I’ll sit down and talk with the parents one-on-one as a board member. So vote for me if you wish to see change. …”

Gonzalez attended Roswell High School first, dropped out and then returned to University High School, where he graduated in 1996. He recently earned an associate degree in film production from Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell. He has been a single parent since 2008 and has two daughters. One of them is a junior at an RISD high school.

Maria Emma Santana, Gonzalez’s mother, is his campaign manager and Gonzalez said he is not planning to spend much on this campaign.

After graduating from Leadership Roswell, Gonzalez said he was inspired by the program to be involved by running for office. Since then, he has run for Roswell city councilor, county commissioner and mayor. He said he wishes more people participated in running for office and voting.

“I want to do everything that I can possibly do to serve the community in any capacity, in any office and as far as willing to do that, and not losing any motivation, I’m going to try and do by best to represent the community to the best of my ability,” Gonzalez said.

After filing day on Aug. 26, District 4 became a three-way race between Ruben Sanchez, Gonzalez and Hilda Sanchez. Gonzalez said all of them are “quality” candidates to choose from. District 4 is predominantly south and east of South Virginia Avenue extending east beyond the Pecos River, and covers an area south past YO Road.

School board elections are nonpartisan. For his political affiliation, Gonzalez said he registered Republican last year, but joined the Libertarian Party this year.

Early voting began Oct. 8 at the Chaves County Clerk’s Office and Election Day is Nov. 5. RISD’s board of education has five members who serve four-year terms with the duties of hiring and evaluating superintendents, voting on policies and the district’s annual budget, and making other district-related decisions specified in state statute.

Districts 1, 3 and 5 will have open positions in 2021. All five districts can be viewed online at risd.k12.nm.us/schoolboard/Roswell_Schools_Board_Districts_2012_Map_letter.pdf.

Special projects reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.