Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

School board hopefuls answer questions


October 30, 2019

The Tucumcari school board has four seats up for the Nov. 5 election but only one is contested — incumbent Fernando Ureste versus Jerry Joe Lopez in District 2.

Newcomers Victor Matthew Pacheco in District 1 and Bo William Wallace in District 5 are uncontested and will be elected, replacing Carlos Romero and Corinne Hayes, respectively, who did not run for re-election.

Incumbent Heather Gonzales in District 4 also is unopposed.

All are four-year terms.

Ureste, 32, works at United Parcel Service. He and his opponent, Lopez, 37, recently filled out questionnaires from the Quay County Sun about their candidacies. Below are the questions and their written answers; some responses are edited for clarity.

What prompted you to run?

Lopez: “The desire to serve the school district and help improve the future for the school and community. I was born and raised in Tucumcari. My two kids are also born and raised in Tucumcari and are now grown and are graduates of Tucumcari public schools.”

Ureste: “In my time on the board I have realized I can make a difference by having a voice for those in my district and community. I have traveled and attended many meetings to learn how to be the best representative that I can. If, elected, I want to continue my education on being the best board member that I can.”

What are the big issues facing the school district?

Lopez: “We hear about statewide issues affecting public education. I want to learn more about these issues and their impact on the school and work with school administration, fellow board members and community to mitigate these impacts locally and at state level.” Lopez listed these issues: “1. School funding; 2. Teacher recruitment and retention; 3. Teacher pay; 4. Student testing; 5. Over-testing; 6. Maintaining enrollment/prevent students from dropping out of school; 7. Drawing back students from area schools; 8. Drugs/alcohol; 9. Mental health.”

Ureste: “I would have to say the safety of our children. It seems that no matter how many measures we put into place, we always will have to worry about the safety of our children. It’s something that schools across our nation have to worry about on a daily basis. As a board member, I would like to see more training in this area. I don’t really believe you can have too much training when it comes to protecting the welfare of our students and staff.”

Why should voters cast a ballot for you?

Lopez: “I am a committed member of the community. I have pride in our schools and only desire to improve. I am thoughtful in my approach to problems, studying / learning before making decision. I have some familiarity with the schools, but have no ‘personal agenda,’ other than to see the district do what's best for all the students it serves.”

Ureste: “I have four boys ranging in ages from 5 to 12. As a parent, I want to make sure my children and ALL children in Tucumcari are safe when attending school and get the best education for a better, brighter and successful future. As a board member, I will be involved to assure this happens. All children in our community deserve the best that we as a board can provide by listening to our parents and communities’ input. I will try to serve the voters of Tucumcari and listen to what they have to say when it comes to our students and schools. I am current a member of the Tucumcari Board of Education and would like to continue to serve.”

What would you like to see the district accomplish during your term?

Lopez: “A comprehensive strategic plan for the issues facing the district.” Lopez listed his priorities: “A. Ensure that facilities are maintained and/or planned, related to the programs needs. B. Best use of the various funding sources for building maintenance/improvements. C. Comprehensive plan, for future building and athletic facilities/venues. D. Academic Improvement, Academic programs, Extra- and Co-curricular programs. E. Teacher moral and student moral.”

Ureste: “Excellence and success in everything we try to accomplish. Currently the board is working on getting new baseball and softball fields. I would also like to see more accomplished with our facilities by working with the superintendent and other board members to accomplish some of these goals. I want our students and community to be proud of our schools for years to come. I know with my support and experience this will happen.”


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