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School board elections on Tuesday’s ballots

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Five candidates are competing for two school board positions representing District 2 and District 4 of Roswell Independent School District.

The terms of the incumbents for District 2 and District 4 expire this year and the election is Nov. 5.

The five board members represent five districts and vote on the budget, hiring, evaluation of the RISD superintendent and review and vote on policies. Members serve four-year terms if elected.

Dr. Kathleen Pittman, 70, is a retired professor who was appointed to serve District 2 in 2017 when Nicole Austin stepped down. A former teacher, Hope Morales, 35, is challenging Pittman’s seat.

Ruben Sanchez, 39, is a U.S. Air Force veteran who was elected in 2015 to represent District 4. His two opponents are Sergio Gonzalez, 42, a former Marine, and Hilda Sanchez, 69, a retired teacher, administrator and bilingual teacher.

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Pittman, Morales and Hilda Sanchez are all running for public office for the first time. Ruben Sanchez is running for the second time and Gonzalez has run for Roswell City Council, mayor and county commission — this is his fourth attempt at an elected office.

School board elections are nonpartisan. Pittman, Sanchez and Morales are affiliated with the Republican Party, while Gonzalez is a Libertarian and Hilda Sanchez is affiliated with the Democratic Party.

All candidates expressed the need for better communication with stakeholders and RISD. Holding RISD leaders accountable was another point they all stressed. Another shared priority was having high-quality educators in RISD classrooms.

Incumbents Pittman and Sanchez are both running with students-first priorities, and want to continue their work on the school board to support RISD students from pre-K to graduation.

Morales has emphasized the need for transparency in data and using data to make decisions for students. One of her other priorities as a potential board member is ensuring RISD teachers are supported by having access to needed resources.

Gonzalez’s priorities are focused on bringing more programs and technology to the schools. If elected, he plans on being a “strong voice” for students.

Hilda Sanchez said she will work to provide an employee free-speech policy that will allow RISD employees to share their ideas and opinions. Providing an equitable and fair educational experience for all RISD students is another of her priorities.

Three of the five candidates are full-time employees where they work, with Pittman and Hilda Sanchez being retired. Ruben Sanchez is the assistant field manager for the lands and minerals division for Bureau of Land Management and Gonzalez is an educational assistant at Dexter Consolidated Schools. Morales is state director for New Mexico Teach Plus.

Pittman is the only candidate without familial ties to RISD. Morales and Gonzalez have their own children attending RISD schools.

Ruben Sanchez’s wife and two sisters-in-law teach at RISD schools and his children and a niece and nephew are enrolled at RISD schools. Hilda Sanchez’s sister is an educational assistant and her son was recently hired to temporarily coach middle school basketball; one grandson also is at an RISD school.

Early voting began on Oct. 8 and ends Nov. 2. The hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the the Chaves County Clerk’s Office and the Hagerman Joy Center — as well as Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Chaves County Clerk’s Office and the Roswell Mall. From Tuesday to Saturday, the Roswell Mall is also open for voting from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Oct. 31 was the last day to request an absentee ballot Nov. 1 is the last day a ballot can be mailed and must be received by no later than 7 p.m. on Nov. 5.

From Oct. 8-Nov. 1, voter updates and registration can be completed in person with the County Clerk. On Nov. 2, voters can update and register from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

District 2 is in northwest Roswell, primarily west of Main Street and between Berrendo Road and West Second Street.

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.

The terms for the remaining board members — serving Districts 1, 3 and 5 — will expire in 2021. Those members are Mona Kirk, Board President Alan Gedde and James Edwards. All five districts can be viewed online at risd.k12.nm.us/schoolboard/Roswell_Schools_Board_Districts_2012_Map_letter.pdf.

For more information, call the county clerk at 575-624-6614 or visit www.nmvote.org.

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