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East board getting a new look

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By Tom McDonald and Don Pace
Las Vegas Optic

A veteran member of the Las Vegas City Schools board has been defeated in his attempt for a six straight term in office.

Ricky Serna, 30, earned his first four-year term on the school board by defeating Patrick Romero by only 59 votes. Serna garnered 41 percent of the vote to Romero’s 36 percent. Stephanie Salazar, a Las Vegas police dispatcher, got 23 percent of the vote in that race.

Serna will join two other newcomers, Felix Alderete and Gloria Lovato-Pacheco, on the board, along with Gabriel Lucero and Elaine Luna, whose positions were not up for election this year.

Lovato-Pacheco was the only east-side candidate to win a majority, with 62 percent, over Mark Montoya’s 25 percent and Eric Cummings’ 13 percent.

Alderete narrowly won with 45 percent over Sandra Madrid’s 42 percent and Carlos Perea’s 13 percent.

Also on the ballot was a proposal to reissue a 2-mill property tax levy for maintenance and repairs on district facilities. It passed by only 12 votes — 625 to 613.

“We appreciate the trust that the community has put back in our hands,” Interim Superintendent Sheryl McNellis-Martinez said of the millage vote.

After realizing his victory, Serna said the first thing he intends to do as a school board member is delve into the search for a new superintendent.

“I really want to dive into the superintendent’s search process to see how that’s going. I want to take a look at the applicants, start to develop the measures for which we will actually weigh out those applicants, and narrow them down to those we will interview.”

“This is the first time I’ve ever done something like this, so I can’t even stand still,” Serna said with a laugh.

He attributed his win to attentive voters.

“This time around I think people were looking for the best person for the job. Voters were paying attention, and listening to the forums,” he said. “There were more people there than usual, so people were looking for somebody that understands where we’ve been, but more importantly, can understand how to take us where we need to go.”

Lovato-Pacheco and Alderete also emphasized the superintendent search as the most pressing matter before  the school board. Lovato-Pacheco added that she wants to “develop an educational plan that will provide our students with a road map that the new superintendent will follow. The dog should be wagging the tail, not visa-versa.”

Romero, in conceding the election, said, “I spent a good 20 years as a board member, so that is a record of some kind. ... But this was the final hooray, and we did pretty well for just me and my wife running the campaign. It was pretty close, so I’m not too unhappy.”

Las Vegas City Schools

Candidate            Votes    %

Position 3
Felix Alderete         591    45%
Sandra Madrid        547    42%
Carlos Perea           175    13%
Position 4
Gloria Lovato-Pacheco   804    62%
Mark A. Montoya           314    25%
Eric Cummings              177    13%
Position 5
Ricky Serna                 531    41%
Patrick Romero (i)        472    36%
Stephanie Salazar        298    23%
(i) — denotes incumbent