EPISD school board election draws new candidates

EL PASO, Texas - Candidates running for the El Paso Independent School board drew numbers that will determine their place on the ballot in May election on Monday.

But future trustees won't have much to do now that the Texas Education Agency has put in a board of managers to run the district. The Department of Justice still needs to confirm the 5-member board of managers, but the TEA said that's just a formality, and the board of managers will start leading school board meetings within a matter of weeks. After that they'll be in charge for as long as two years, leaving the role of a trustee worthless. But candidates say they're confident the board will be back in power sooner than everybody thinks.

At EPISD Headquarters, candidates running for school board sat in the same room for the first time.Drawing numbers and and letting luck determine their spot on the ballot.

Running in District 1 is incumbent Rocio Benedicto, and challengers Bob Geske and Omar Villa.

In District 3 incumbent Fred Borrego will be running against challenger Susie Byrd.

Russell Wiggs in not seeking reelection leaving Diane M. Dye to run unopposed.

And District 5 Incumbent Joel F. Barrio is challenged by Julian Gonzales, James Lamonica and Chuck Taylor

"Because of background and because of the trust that I have with employees in the district with people that I can help make a difference and I can help make this district better," said Lamonica

The cheating scandal and TEA intervention doesn't scare off the veteran educator, and Lamonica said he was inspired to run because of his life long dedication to the district. Businessman Julian Gonzales just wants to ensure the quality of his childrens' education.

"I want to enhance what's good in the district and fine tune what needs work," Gonzalez said.

But incumbents Joel Barrios and Fred Borrego aren't discouraged by the downgrade they can expect after a board of managers takes over.

"Its the will of the people its the vote of my community," Borrego said.

During their current terms, they've had access to confidential district information, financial knowledge and access to closed sessions. But those are previous privileges of power and future trustees won't even have a spot to sit on the dais.

"Its very important that we continue moving forward and continue the repair of the system," Barrios said.

The TEA said they'll check in with the board of managers every three months or so to determine if the district is ready to be back in the hands of the board of trustees. If the TEA decides it, the board of managers could be out earlier than their two year deadline.  

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