Effects of Clint ISD growth on school board elections

Ashlie Rodriguez, Reporter
POSTED: 10:40 PM MDT May 16, 2013 
EL PASO, Texas -

When Clint Independent School District first opened, there was only one high school, making an at-large voting system sensible.

Canutill ISD is in a similar situation now, and single-member representation doesn't work because Canutillo isn't large enough to carve out. But Clint ISD has grown in the last couple of decades.

The entire district's population is at 32,453 and 29,310 people come from Montana Vista and Horizon City, with just over 3,000 coming from Clint. 

When Socorro ISD's population expanded and more schools were built, they switched to single-member representation. But Clint trustees refuse to do the same. 

"Well, it's something that has been a proven system since I've on the school board for 20 years," said Clint Board President James Pendell. "We've always been very fair."

But those 20 years is what County Commissioner Vince Perez takes issue with. He said the at-large system keeps incumbents in power and denies challengers seats.

In the November 2012 election the three incumbents received most of the votes, so they won. The three challengers were from Montana Vista and lost. But not one of the winners received more than 22 percent of total votes.

"More people actually voted against them, than voted for them," said County Commissioner Vince Perez. "Because it's a plurality system, incumbents can stay in office."

Perez said Clint ISD has changed over the last 20 years, and the board needs to evolve. 
But the board president says no.

"They have the numbers, they could win an election anytime they want to go out an vote," Pendell said.