EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Election season is underway in the Borderland with early voting beginning April 19 and running through the 27.
Election Day is May 1 and there are a few items on the ballot but most of the focus is on the school board elections for El Paso ISD and Socorro ISD.
In EPISD, there are four out of seven trustee seats up for grabs. Those are Districts 1,3,4 and 5. In SISD, there are also four seats up in Districts 2,3,4 and 5.
Although they are the two largest school districts in El Paso County, Dr. Richard Pineda, the Director of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies at UTEP, said not many people typically show up to vote in these races.
“These are the least sexy of elections,” Pineda said. “They’re one of the least appreciated elections we have, but one that has tremendous impacts on neighborhoods as a whole.”
Pineda said it’s important for everyone to participate in these elections if their district is up for a vote.
“Even if you don’t have children, the school boards have a tremendous impact on your community, They efforts they have are going to have an impact on the success, that success then translates to economic mobility which also translates to how well communities do in comparison to other communities in Texas,” Pineda said.
There are 17 candidates running in the four EPISD races. Pineda said in crowded races, it’s important for voters to do their due diligence in researching each candidate, where they stand on certain issues and where they’re getting support.
“One issue in EPISD is the presence in external support,” Pineda said. “It behooves voters to check and see which candidates are associated with charters, which are endorsed by the teachers union.”
The local unions, El Paso Teachers Association and the American Federation of Teachers El Paso Chapter are endorsing four candidates in the EPISD races. Those candidates are:
- Leah Hanany-District 1
- Josh Acevedo- District 3 (Incumbent)
- Betty Ann Halliburton- District 4
- Vanessa Betts- District 5
“We are very much on record as being against charter schools,” Norma De La Rosa, President of the El Paso Teachers Association, said. “Myself and other teacher organizations in EPISD are launching an extensive campaign to have our candidates elected in those four areas.”
On another hand, a PAC is putting $60,000 behind other candidates in the same races with money from local businessmen and groups supporting charter schools.
As KTSM previously reported, El Paso businessmen and charter school advocates are behind the Kids First of El Paso Political Action Committee. Eddie Rodriguez, the Treasurer of the Kids First PAC, said most of the money went towards campaigning efforts like billboards.
“All we’re doing is helping them to fray their cost for the purpose and idea that they are there advocating for the benefit of the students, which is absolutely critical,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he wants to see their candidates focus on student development.
“In El Paso’s situation we have to put the same level of attention and make sure that students are given the same opportunities for being able to get that high quality education,” Rodriguez said.
Candidates endorsed by Kids First PAC are:
- Jennie Tipton Lasley- District 1
- Leslie Hoard- District 3
- Isabel Hernandez- District 4
- Israel Irroboli- District 5