Official leaves after nine years

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By Don Pace

Ramon “Swoops” Montaño is a guy who pretty much wears his heart on his sleeve.

The chairman of the Las Vegas City Schools board said that during his decade of public service, he hasn’t pleased everyone and offered a teary-eyed apology to those he may have offended along the way.
“I see some of my critics here tonight, and I want to thank you. It was you who motivated me to continue to do what was right. I fell a few times, but got up and tried my best to do the right thing. These offices are not ours to hold forever, and it is comforting to see new people willing to face new challenges,” Montaño said. 

As he reminisced about the good times when he and his father, whom he called his biggest supporter, would go with him on his door-to-door quest seeking votes. 

“People would tell me to get out of their yard, unless my dad was with me,” Montaño said to laughter.

But with his family living in Rio Rancho, he lamented the late-night calls to his wife and kids from all corners of the state wishing them a good night.

“I need to be closer to my family as I move on,” Montaño said. “But everywhere I go I’m always proud to say I’m from Las Vegas, and I can’t thank enough the citizens of this great city for trusting me in this office.”

Interim Superintendent LeeEtte Quintana presented Montaño with a plaque that commemorating his years of service.

“I have known Mr. Montaño since he was in high school playing tennis. I was a coach; it dates me a little,” Quintana said. “But he has been a very dedicated board member, and very instrumental forming a lot of our policies and procedures. I am grateful and thankful for his years of service — from 2001 to to 2010, that’s a long time.”

Member Gabriel Lucero said, “I want to thank Ramon for helping me along after my election to the board. Every time I called him his response was almost immediate, and if he didn’t have an answer we would work together on getting the right answer from state officials. Ramon has brought integrity and good judgment to this board.”
Member Elaine Luna said, “You are a gentleman who says directly what you think and you feel, but most of all, you have advocated for the children of Las Vegas — east or west or statewide. We wish you well in the next chapter of your life.”

Member Phillip Vigil said, “Sometimes things go well, sometimes they don’t. But I do know Mr. Swoops was elected president of the New Mexico School Board Association. The association has always been controlled by political forces in southern New Mexico, so his election to the state board deserves a round of applause. Ramon took it to a different level, both here and statewide. Most important, he has always fought to keep the interests of our students the No. 1 priority.”

Member Patrick Romero said, “Swoops and I go way back to the very beginning of his career. It has been rare that we have had arguments about running the school district; we have usually been on the same side on votes. I can’t remember any time we didn’t vote the same way, and I appreciate we can agree on the many good things we have done,” Romero said.

West Las Vegas School Board Chairwoman Christine Ludi said citizens on the east and west sides care equally about the education of children.

“As we head into some difficult times for education in this tenuous economy, elected members on the boards of education, on both sides of the Gallinas River, have only one interest, our kids,” Ludi said.