Home News Local News Challengers defeat RISD school board incumbents

Challengers defeat RISD school board incumbents

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Hilda Sanchez, second from left, celebrates her first victory in a run for public office. She’ll represent District 4 as a Roswell Independent School District school board member. Hilda Sanchez will be taking over incumbent Ruben Sanchez’s seat, and she also defeated fellow challenger Sergio Gonzalez. Also pictured, from left, are Isidro and Melinda Gonzalez and Frank Sanchez, Hilda Sanchez’s husband, after the unofficial vote totals were announced on Tuesday night. (Alison Penn Photo)

Roswell voters have elected Hope Morales, former teacher, and Hilda Sanchez, a retired educator, to represent District 2 and District 4, respectively, on the Roswell Independent School District’s school board.

Both Morales and Hilda Sanchez’s first runs for public office were successful, according to unofficial results from the Chaves County Clerk’s Office and the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website as of Tuesday night.

Chaves County Clerk Dave Kunko said the canvassing of the votes will be next Tuesday at 2 p.m. Kunko also confirmed that new board members will be sworn in after the new year.

For District 2, 1,052 votes were cast in the two-way race, and 483 votes were divided between three candidates for District 4.

With 701 votes, Morales defeated incumbent Dr. Kathleen Pittman’s 351. Morales earned 66.63% of votes.

“My heart is humbled by the support and vote of confidence from Roswell voters,” Morales wrote in a statement. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you. I pledge to work hard for the students, teachers, parents and members of our community. Roswell is poised to achieve greater heights and together, we will do great things.”

In previous interviews, Pittman said Morales was her student and Morales said she notified Pittman about her plans to run. Pittman, her husband and her campaign manager, Barry Foster, were present at the Chaves County Administrative Center on Tuesday night. Pittman shared her congratulations to Morales with the Daily Record.

“I want to thank my supporters for all their good wishes and their financial and emotional support,” Pittman said. “The two years that I spent with the Roswell Independent School District as a board member was wonderful. I really appreciate everything people did for me and it was a joy to serve. …”

Hilda Sanchez garnered 312 votes, or 64.60%, to incumbent Ruben Sanchez’s 134 votes and challenger Sergio Gonzalez’s 37 votes.

Hilda Sanchez thanked her committee and team for their work helping her run to make RISD schools better for students. She said putting students first was a commonality between her and Ruben Sanchez, who she thanked for “his service to the board and I congratulate him for making me work so hard” for the campaign.

About 75 people spent the day with Hilda Sanchez during the voting and they all celebrated in the evening with food and cake. She said there is “a lot of work to do in the district still” and recognized that she had the overwhelming support of RISD teachers, coaches and administrators and their families.

“And they did it because of the students — they want a change in the district, a big change,” she said, expressing gratitude for all the voters. “That is the theme. We need a change. And that’s why everybody is going to sleep a little better tonight — because we’re making a change.”

“I would like to truly thank all of my friends, family and supporters through this campaign,” Ruben Sanchez said in a statement. “A heartfelt thank you goes out to each and every one of you. It has been an honor serving you over the past five years. Thank you for allowing me to do so. I would also like to congratulate Mrs. Hilda Sanchez on becoming a new school board member. I wish nothing but the best for her and look forward to the bright future of our district.”

Gonzalez also congratulated the victors and wished them well in serving on the board. He also wrote that he will continue to be “the candidate of choice” for voters who would support a former Marine in office.

“… I feel like it’s my obligation as a citizen and a veteran to put my name on the ballot — and have not only the right to vote — but the right to run for office,” Gonzalez wrote. “I encourage all persons who have thought about it, to go ahead and make that leap of faith and get out of their comfort zone and try running. It can be a blessing and perhaps even a burden to some candidates, but the reality is that you can serve the people of your communities and have that opportunity to be their voice and also be a part of something bigger than themselves. …”

The seats of board members President Alan Gedde and members Mona Kirk and James Edwards will be up for election in 2021. The five board members are elected to four-year terms and serve without pay with their responsibilities to hire and evaluate superintendents, approve the annual budget, and review and vote on policies for RISD.

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