Home News Local News School board candidates speak to Republican Women

School board candidates speak to Republican Women

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From left, Ruben Sanchez, vice president of the Roswell Independent School District’s school board and Kathleen Pittman, secretary of the board, prepare to speak at the Oct. 16 meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women at the Elks Lodge. Sanchez, who represents District 4 on the board, and Pittman, who represents District 2, are both up for re-election. (Alex Ross Photo)

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With early voting underway, and election day quickly approaching, three candidates vying for seats on the Roswell Independent School District school board introduced themselves and made their campaign pitches to an audience at the most recent meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women.

Ruben Sanchez, of District 4, and Kathleen Pittman, who represents District 2, both spoke to the audience at the Oct. 16 meeting. Hope Morales, who is challenging Pittman for the District 2 seat, was not present, but had someone read a message to the crowd on her behalf.

Both seats are on the ballot in this year’s non-partisan elections for the RISD School Board. Early voting has started ahead of the Nov. 5 elections.

Ruben Sanchez

Sanchez, who is vice president of the board, is running for a second four-year term. He will first have to stave off challenges from two opponents: Hilda Sanchez and Sergio Gonzalez.

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District 4 is mostly south and east of South Virginia Avenue. It stretches east beyond the Pecos River and covers an area south past YO Road.

Sanchez said he comes from a long line of RISD educators. His grandparents worked in schools in RISD as does his wife. His mother was also a teacher at East Grand Plains Elementary School.

“So I was kind of the kid who grew up in school and I can honestly say it wasn’t just my mom raising me, it was a team of teachers that were raising me too,” he said.

He added that some of his fondest memories from his childhood were in school and being involved in school activities.

The son of a teacher and of a firefighter, Sanchez said he has long valued public service.

“What I like to say is ‘born with a servant’s heart’ and I think that is where I come from, with my mother being an educator and then my father retiring as a firefighter,” he said.

As a board member, Sanchez said it is important that RISD retain qualified teachers and staff, that there continue to be high expectations for students and that communications and transparency be improved, including when it comes to parents.

“When it comes to educators, they already have enough on their back. They want to do what is best for our kids and when they send those kids home, we need to make sure that they are getting the same thing at home,” Sanchez said.

Hope Morales

Morales is making her first run for public office with her campaign for the District 2 seat on the board. The district is in northwest Roswell, predominantly west of Main Street and between Berrendo Road and West Second Street.

Margaret Kennard read a statement to the audience prepared by Morales. In the statement Morales apologized for not being at the meeting in person, but noted that she was required to be at a retreat for her employer.

In her statement, Morales said that as a child she could not have imagined running for political office, but that as an adult she has learned the value of strong leaders.

“We need leaders who are knowledgeable, willing to have challenging conversations, provide support and are committed to a system of transparency and accountability,” Kennard said, reading from Morales’ statement.

Morales is the executive director of Teach Plus New Mexico, a nonprofit organization that teaches current classroom teachers about policy and problem solving. Before that she was a teacher.

In Morales’ statement, she said that she knows of the potential housed in each student and the challenges facing the community.

“It is important for me to serve my hometown, advocate for students and elevate the voice of our community,” Kennard said, reading from Morales’ statement.

In her statement Morales said that as a board member she will have three major duties: approving the budget for RISD, creating policies for the district and evaluating the superintendent’s performance.

Kathleen Pittman

Pittman, who had once been Morales’ teacher and is secretary of the board, is running for re-election to the District 2 seat she now holds.

Pittman has been a teacher and involved in K-12 and higher education.

“I like the train we’re on,” she said of the direction RISD is heading. “We’re not there yet, we’ll have bumps, but we can fix those things.”

Pittman said as a board member, she often hears complaints from parents and community members alike. She said they sometimes call her up “madder then a wet hen,” and she will then raise the issues with the superintendent.

“And then we work for a solution,” Pittman said. She cast herself as a problem solver, having previously taught courses in creative problem solving in Alabama.

Pittman asked members of the crowd what they expect from RISD graduates. The most common response was “success.” She then asked them what they expect from graduates from the New Mexico Military Institute. Again, the most common answer from the crowd was “success.”

She said the expectations for students should be high for graduates from both NMMI and RISD schools.

“We need to have high expectations for our kids. We need to have high expectations for our teachers, for our superintendent and her staff. High expectations for parents and for the community,” Pittman said.

She said one of the biggest challenges facing RISD is the lack of involvement by some parents.

“We need to help those parents get where they need to be to help their kids, but we can’t wait,” Pittman said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.