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Youth a focus of Edwards’ life, career

James Edwards is running for reelection to the District 5 seat on the Roswell Independent School District school board. (Juno Ogle Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

James Edwards is running for a second term on the Roswell Independent School District school board in District 5, but he said he represents more than that.

“I represent a district, but I don’t just represent that district, I represent the whole city,” he said in an interview with the Roswell Daily Record.

“I’m not going to pretend like I know everything, but my heart’s in the right place, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job as far as representing my constituents and all of the constituents,” he said.

Edwards said he has lived most of his life in the same southeast Roswell neighborhood where he was raised by a single mother. He attended Edgewood Elementary School, Mesa Middle School and attended Goddard and then Roswell high schools.

He credits the Roswell Boys Club with setting him on a good path.

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“It saved my life and kept me out of the streets and doing some things, because I had some pretty rough friends. If it wasn’t for the Boys Club, I probably would have wound up in prison or dead,” he said.

He graduated from New Mexico Highlands University in 1990 with a double major in sociology and political science/history and returned to Roswell, with his first job working at Roswell Head Start.

Working with youth was nothing new to Edwards. When he was 14, he coached a Little League baseball team of kids not much younger than he was.

“I was probably the youngest kid to ever coach in Roswell,” he said. “I guess I’ve always been pretty mature when it comes to taking on tasks and getting them completed.”

He’s been involved with the Roswell Youth Football League since 1990 and has served as its president the last six years.

He worked with Head Start for about a dozen years and has worked at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell for about 20 years. He currently is the coordinator of the Career Center.

He’s also a sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard and has coordinated veterans’ activities at the college as well as events for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“I guess you would say I’m like a community activist,” he said.

He has also recently taken on parenting duties for three of his niece’s four children after she was shot and killed in February by her brother. He’s also a caretaker for an older brother.

“I believe whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so I’ve learned to be strong,” he said.

“It’s been difficult, but I’ve continued to persevere. I think that’s one of the things my mom taught me, perseverance, to be strong,” he said.

His mother, who worked as a nurse, also taught him other important lessons, he said.

“You work hard for what you want and if you make a mistake, own it. I’ve made mistakes but I’ve owned my mistakes and I’ll call them out at the same meeting, I’ve made mistakes on the board,” he said.

One thing Edwards said he would like to work toward in another term on the school board is more harmony with the community. He noted there have been four superintendents, including interim appointments, in his four years on the board.

“There hasn’t been any harmony, and it’s not the infighting. We’ve had to deal with COVID, changing of superintendents, COVID again, one strain after another. I just want us to grow and get along and have some harmony in this district and have some stability,” he said.

Hiring Brian Luck, former principal and a graduate of Goddard High School, as superintendent should bring some of that stability to the district, Edwards said.

“I think we have good staff. We have some of the best staff in the world. I just want to make sure we’re financially stable and that we can get along and do the best job we can,” he said.

While Edwards said he would give his campaign his best effort, he also said that, win or lose, it will be his last run for school board.

“After this, I won’t run, that’s a promise. I might run for something else, but I won’t run for school board. There needs to be new blood,” he said.

“I’m not in this for myself. I want to leave a legacy of James Edwards did the right thing,” he said.

School board elections are nonpartisan. James Edwards is the incumbent in District 5. Guy Malone is also running in that district.

District 5 is predominantly east of Main Street to the South Spring River and south of Second Street/U.S. 380 to East McGaffey Street, follows Old Dexter Highway southeast to Cottonwood Lane and then northeast north of County Road 234. It also includes small sections north of East Second and south of West Second.

Seats representing Districts 1 and 3 are also up for election this year. Election Day is Nov. 2 and early voting starts Oct. 5.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

To keep up with coverage of this and other elections of local and regional interest, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/elections/.

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