It’s not easy running for office, any office. Over the years I’ve covered people running for Congress, State Senate, Governor and more. It takes a lot to decided to toss your name in the hat and stand for election.
It’s tougher for those running for unpaid positions, such as board member of the Socorro Independent School District.
I recently met with Paul Garcia, who is running for the At Large position, and this is the first of several interviews I’ll be doing with those running.
Now, a disclaimer: the El Paso Herald-Post does not endorse any individual or party, so these profiles are simply to educate our readers about who is running.
Also, there’s a couple of personal reasons for me writing about the Socorro Independent School District election.
First, I want to learn what is important to both the voters and candidates. Second, I wanting to follow the process of how a school board works, from elections to actions taken once elected.
So, who is Paul Garcia and what qualifies him for school board?
“I’m definitely ready to, to bring a lot of energy and passion to the school board,” says Mr Garcia. “You know, I am a product of the Socorro Independent School District. I’ve attended Hueco Elementary, Socorro Middle School and graduated from Socorro High School in 2003. I am one of their own.”
He also has children who attend school within the district.
“Two of them are in the public education at the Socorro Independent School District. They both attend Purple Heart Elementary,” says Garcia. “My son is in first, my daughter, she’s in Pre-K. So, I have a vested interest and have a vested interest to make sure that the district is continuing to grow and, go in the right direction.”
When I interviewed Paul Garcia for this piece, he had his son, Alexander, with him. I also think it’s good that his children are seeing their father in different aspects of his race for the At Large position.
I think I should explain that I had to ask Mr. Garcia what the At Large position was. I was unsure myself, never having written about the actual candidates and positions they may run for in a school board election.
“The at large position means there are two representatives on the board of trustees that represent the entire school district. So, if you live in the school in any part of the school district, you can actually vote for me and my race,” said Mr Garcia as way of an explanation.
The At Large position, I’ve since learned, can be held by anyone living within the boundaries of the district.
“They can live anywhere,” said Mr Pena, someone I turn to for information on elections. “They also, in my opinion, can do more than the average board member. They are able to represent the district overall and are not held to issues in certain sections of the district. They are elected to represent the district as a whole and are thereby able to help address a wider variety of issues.”
What issues are key to Mr Garcia? I asked him to identify the top issues that he sees.
“One thing is to make sure that teachers are being paid what they deserve. Teachers are the strongest pillars of our community,” says Garcia, “If you think about it, what is our most precious asset for anybody? For any parent, it’s not your 401k; it’s not going to be your home. It is going to be your children. It’s going to be your son, your daughter, your granddaughter, your grandson. Teachers are with our, our children eight hours a day, you know, we need to continue to fight to make sure that they’re getting paid what they’re worth, what they deserve. Okay. That’s a big one for me is make sure across the board that we pay teachers and support stuff favorably.”
How will raises be paid for? I mentioned to Mr. Garcia that no one wants to see property taxes rise.
“There’s about 400, roughly about 400 million in the general fund,” says Paul Garcia. “So definitely have some money in there. I think Socorro Independent School District is doing a pretty good financially. They can definitely afford a 3% raise with a little bonus on the side for teachers, and employees. Absolutely.”
Another issue is charter schools.
“Right now we have a lot of charter schools coming in to play. Every time a charter school opens, that’s taxpayer dollars that are being pulled out of public education…So, I’m not a big fan of charter schools,” says Garcia, “I think they also lack any kind of accountability from the community. And they lack transparency as well.”
Another question I had was about the future of the district in terms of growth. There is only so much land within Socorro, and they are soon to be land-locked by Ysleta, limiting future expansion.
“I think future growth should be constructed and planned using the smart growth development,” says Garcia. “It allows for children, students from all walks of life to be able to find the resources there at the school. Schools are within walking distance. So, I think that’s going to be a major help for students across the board.”
“There’s a lot of growth, especially where I’m in, the Far East. I know they’re building Cactus Trail Elementary and it’s right down the street from my house, pretty much. So, it’s built in such a way where there’s a lot of homes around it. So, you know, it makes it very inclusive, for the community, for parents, from all walks of life.”
I’ll leave Paul Garcia with the final words in this piece.
“I just want to thank everybody for the opportunity. I can promise you I’m going to be trying extremely hard to make sure to listen to every single person, every single student, every single teacher; to make sure that Socorro Independent School District is the best,” shares Garcia.
“You can reach me through my Facebook, Paul Garcia for SISD Board of Trustees At Large, or you can give me a call, and we can have a cup of coffee or have some dinner, 915-667-8208.”
To connect with Paul Garcia, visit his campaign Facebook page
Authors Note: I have attempted to reach out to other standing for election in the Socorro School Board elections. If you are a candidate, and would like to be interviewed, please contact me at 915-201-0653 or send me an email at Steven@epheraldpost.com