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Seven competing for seats on the West board

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By The Staff

Seven candidates are competing for the West Las Vegas school board in Tuesday’s election.

The candidates running for Position 4 are Michael Adams, David G. Romero and John Trujillo. Vying for Position 5 are incumbent Christine Ludi, Manuel Lucero, Jose R. Salazar and Yvette Arellanes.

Longtime board member Ralph Garcia’s term is ending, but he decided not to run again after three decades on the board.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information on poll locations, call the county clerk’s office at 425-9331.

The Optic gave questionnaires to all candidates to give readers a better idea about their stands on the issues. The questionnaires follow:

Position 4

Michael Adams

Age: 50

How long in San Miguel County: Born and raised In Las Vegas, returned in 2006

Occupation: Director of information technology, Luna Community College

Experience: United States Air Force active duty 13 years, Boeing Aerospace Oklahoma City Division; computer consulting business; director of science, technologies, engineering and math department, Luna Community College; director of information technology and computer center, Luna Community College

Education: 600 hours in United States Air Force Technical Training

Family: Divorced. Nickolas, Christian, Steven, Mandy, Brittany and Blaire

Why are you the best candidate for the job? I am a great candidate for Position 1 on the West Las Vegas School Board because I possess genuine passion for student success, faculty support, administrative professionalism and parent concerns. In my years as an academic director, I built many networks with professional educators and grant administrators throughout the state working with the Association of Career and Technical Education, Project Lead The Way, Tech Prep, Youth College, Youth Corporation Commission, LCC Summer Leadership Institute, Carl D. Perkins Grants, Statewide Engineering Development Committee, US Department of Agriculture, and the NMHU Science and Agriculture Summer Experience Project. I would bring to this position knowledge and experience in Information Technology, grant-writing, and various options for educational resources and support.

What is your assessment of the current board? In what ways could it do a better job? I have attended and presented at various board meetings, and I am impressed with the overall professionalism and attention to detail that these board members portray. There is always room for improvement, and perhaps a better understanding of technology and the use of technology in education would increase their awareness in educational achievement.

Has the West Las Vegas school district better controlled expenditures since the controversial $10,000 adults-only, invitation-only party a couple of years ago? Why or why not? I believe the West Las Vegas school district is very aware of the problems that occurred in that controversy, and as a result, is monitoring its expenditures more carefully. The board and administration appear to be very transparent on their expenditures.

If the board has $100 to spend and it could only go for academics or athletics, how much would you give for each? Explain your decision. Academics is priority. If all academic needs are met, then funding for athletic programs should be assessed and met.

What is your view of the school district’s vocational or educational offerings? What improvements can be made? I believe that the school district could be utilizing more of its outside resources for vocational and educational offerings with Luna Community College and New Mexico Highlands University through the dual-credit program, whereby high school students can obtain credits for high school requirements while also obtaining credits toward their college degrees. In addition, there are various other programs in education available to the schools such as TechPrep, Summer Leadership, Project Lead The Way, LCC Youth College, MESA, Upward Bound, etc.

If two board members are having problems with one another, should the matter be discussed in open or closed session? Explain. Is the matter professional, or of a personal nature? Professional matters need to be handled in open session, or in executive session if it is a personal matter dealing with school business. All other problems should be handled by the individuals having the problem.

In what cases would you agree to go into closed session? Should there be a closed session after every open meeting? Follow the Open Meetings Act protocol.

Would you support a proposal to administratively consolidate the two districts while keeping both high schools open? Why or why not? The concerns all seem to be about money, and in my professional opinion, we would not save much. The other thing I struggled with is how anyone can put a cost on pride and history. I am running for this position to give back to West Las Vegas, a school that gave me so much. No, I would not want consolidation.

David George Romero

Age: 32

How long in San Miguel County: Lifelong

Occupation: Co-owner and operator of Romero’s Automotive Tire and Muffler Center

Experience: I am currently involved with youth sports as a coach and mentor. I am also a current member of the Recreation Committee for the city of Las Vegas.

Family: I have been married for 10 years to my beautiful wife Edwina Romero. I have two wonderful sons David age 9, a third-grader, and Diego, age 7, a second-grader, both attend Union Elementary.

Why are you the best candidate for the job? I am the best candidate for the job because I do not have any personal agendas. I am running because I believe that the West Las Vegas district has good schools with good employees who are dedicated to the children. I want to be a part of the school governance team to ensure that the schools continue to improve and prosper through my active participation as a school board member and making children a priority.

What is your assessment of the current board? In what ways could it do a better job? The current board members are dedicated community people who are doing their best for the schools. As in any organization or board, there is always room for improvement. Open communication with parents, students and employees is integral to forming collaborative partnerships within the school district. Open and transparent school governance is one area that I believe needs improvement.

Has the West Las Vegas school district better controlled expenditures since the controversial $10,000 adults-only, invitation-only party a couple of years ago? Why or why not? It is my understanding that the WLV school district was under a great deal of scrutiny after the controversial bilingual party and that the district received several mandates from the state Department of Education that had to be followed in order to get the district finances back in order. From what has been published in the newspaper, I believe that the district has made an effort to correct any wrongdoing and has taken proper steps to ensure that a similar situation does not happen again. As I understand the business manager has developed an expenditure report for the board to review before every board meeting. This report lists all expenditures for the month with an explanation for each.

If the board has $100 to spend and it could only go for academics or athletics, how much would you give for each? Explain your decision. Athletics is able to utilize money from ticket sales, gate fees, booster clubs, etc. All academics are funded strictly through state monies. I don’t believe that academics and athletics should be pitted against one another. I believe that they go hand in hand.

What is your view of the school district’s vocational or educational offerings? What improvements can be made? We have strong concurrent enrollment with Luna and Highlands, but I would like to see more vocational programs such as FFA (Future Farmers of America), more computer based learning and technology-focused classes for students who are not going on to pursue an academic track.

If two board members are having problems with one another, should the matter be discussed in open or closed session? Explain. Board members, as elected officials, should always try to maintain a professional demeanor when they are conducting school district business, especially if they are in open session. Personal problems between board members should be addressed away from the school board meeting and should not interfere with the board meeting in any way.

In what cases would you agree to go into closed session? Should there be a closed session after every open meeting? All work should be done in open sessions and closed or executive sessions should be reserved for those issues that are specific to those included in the Open Meetings Act: personnel issues, student issues, legal concerns, etc. In my opinion, closed sessions are not really necessary every time the board meets. Personal disagreements or issues not pertaining to the school should not be discussed at a meeting. As school board members, we are expected to maintain professionalism at all times.

Would you support a proposal to administratively consolidate the two districts while keeping both high schools open? Why or why not? Administrative consolidation would mean one administration including one superintendent, one associate superintendent, one finance director, one athletic director, etc. Teachers, secretaries, custodians and other support staff would remain at their individual school sites. Because this is such an emotional issue, I would have to be completely convinced that administrative consolidation would be in the best interest of our children and the district in general.

John A. Trujillo

Age: 54

How long in San Miguel County: 54 years

Occupation: New Mexico Department of Transportation, management analyst

Experience: Four years served as vice chairman of West Las Vegas School Board; retired from the state Department of Transportation after 28 years of service and returned two years ago as a full-time employee; five years coaching at West Las Vegas Schools; four years assistant little league coaching.

Education: Graduate from West Las Vegas High School (1973); attended New Mexico Highlands University; associate’s degree in accounting

Family: Two sons, John and Christopher Trujillo (graduates from West Las Vegas High School and New Mexico Highlands University), both sons have received their master’s degrees from Arizona State University with the youngest, Christopher, currently working on his doctorate. Both sons reside in Scottsdale, Ariz. Jacob (Jake) Eden Trujillo, grandson, 3, of Las Vegas.

Why are you the best candidate for the job? Experience from serving as vice chairman of the West Las Vegas School Board once before and volunteer service given to the West Las Vegas Schools over the past 30 years had made me quite tuned in to the needs of the district and continues to show my concern for the betterment of this school district.

What is your assessment of the current board? In what ways could it do a better job? Good communication between each board member is not currently in place. Better communication and goal setting would help immensely reach achievements. Setting the standards much higher than they are now would make for a better board.

Has the West Las Vegas school district better controlled expenditures since the controversial $10,000 adults-only, invitation-only party a couple of years ago? Why or why not? Yes, I believe they have better controlled expenditures since the controversy due to scrutiny of outside influences and media in particularly watching closely their actions.

If the board has $100 to spend and it could only go for academics or athletics, how much would you give for each? Explain your decision. My priority is always academics if I had to choose one over the other. I believe educating our youth is most important than pushing athletics first. As with my own two children, I have continued to support their educational goals.

What is your view of the schools district’s vocational or educational offerings? What improvements can be made? The current offerings could be greatly improved upon to achieve a higher rate of graduates. I believe a more supportive move for exposure in lower grades to show the need of a college degree should be emphasized.

If two board members are having a problem with one another, should the matter be discussed in open or closed session? Explain. I believe a closed session. However, I believe the problem should and could be resolved before a closed session ever occurs. Adults should be able to communicate to each other directly and immediately upon troubled encounters. Excellent communication between individuals, especially individuals serving the public, should never be an issue. Professionalism should be at its highest standard.

In what cases would you agree to go into closed session? Should there be a closed session after every open meeting? I believe closed sessions should only be held for personnel confidentiality. I do not agree with closed sessions after every meeting. I do not understand why that has even occurred.

Would you support a proposal to administratively consolidate the two districts while keeping both high schools open? Why or why not? In the times, we currently live in, saving money is imperative. Consolidation of the two school districts would save an enormous amount of money that could be spent on our children’s education. I believe our youth are our future and our money is best spent on them.

POSITION 5

Manuel A. “Manny” Lucero

Age: 48

How long in San Miguel County: Lifelong

Occupation: Oxygen technician, Plaza Drugs

Experience: 19 years working with the youth in the community as a coach and board member, currently president of La Plaza Little League, have been employed as a school administrator, have three years experience with critical capital outlay monies for schools and have worked on several school budgets throughout the years

Education: 1979 graduate West Las Vegas, attended Highlands University 1979-81, school bus driver instructor and 2008 graduate of Luna Community College (computer application specialist)

Family: Parents Cecilio and Eloisa Lucero Eloisa; wife, Loretta Lucero; three sons, Daniel, Stephen and Joey

Why are you the best candidate for the job? I have seen the issues at the West Las Vegas Schools both as an employee and a parent. I have been instrumental in obtaining monies at both state and federal levels for other school districts and most of all I am willing to continue to work for the youth of West Las Vegas.

What is your assessment of the current board? I feel that the board could do more by placing more emphasis on academics.

Has the West Las Vegas school district better controlled expenditures since the controversial $10,000 adults-only, invitation-only party a couple of years ago? I have not looked at the finance books; I could not say. I do know that the school now has control of their funds and not the state.

If the board has $100 to spend and it could only go for academics or athletics, how much would you give for each? Explain your decision. I would spend about 80 percent on academics and 20 percent on sports. The reason for the ratio is that our job as a school district is to give students a well round education. This also includes social interaction and healthy environment.

What is your view of the school district’s vocational or educational offerings? What improvements can be made? Make all students aware of dual credits and what the area colleges have to offer.

If two board members are having problems with one another, should the matter be discussed in open or closed session? Explain. If it’s personal, it should be done in private, not at the meeting. If it deals with questions about the district and not staff sure why not. Differences among board members isn’t a bad thing. After all, we are all different individuals. The board should not be a rubber stamp.

In what cases would you agree to go into closed session? Should there be a closed session after every open meeting? The only time a closed meeting should be used is when you deal with personnel or a case of a lawsuit and of course no decisions should be made. The size of our district mandates that most of the time we will but not all the time.

Would you support a proposal to administratively consolidate the two districts while keeping both high schools open? Why or why not? This may be mandated by the state eventually, but right now the two schools are different districts makes for good competition for our students.

Christine Ludi

Age: 52

How long in San Miguel County: Most of my life

Occupation: Assist vice president manager, State Employees Credit Union 12years

Experience: Four years West Las Vegas school board

Education: West Las Vegas graduate 1975, continuing education in finances.

Family: Husband Gary Ludi; daughters Kimberly Rodriquez and husband Tim Rebecca Esquibel and husband Anthony. 10 grandchildren

Why are you the best candidate for the job? I have gained a lot of experience during my tenure as a board member; and as board member, I was a major contributing factor in maintaining the Head Start Program in the West district. I have ensured that a good understanding of the school budget is a top priority for all members and staff, having an oversight of capital outlay monies spent and making sure architects and contractors have repaired there mistakes without monies from the district. A vested interest in the education of over 40 family members past and present.

What is your assessment of the current board? In what ways could it do a better job? For all practical purposes, the board works well together despite differences. I would like to thank Ralph Garcia for his 28 years of service as a board member and other board members I’ve worked with.

Has the West Las Vegas school district better controlled expenditures since the controversial $10,000 adults-only, invitation-only party a couple of years ago? Why or why not? Yes, West has better control. I attribute that to the excellent job Mr. Abreu and his staff has done. In the last two years, the state audits have found little or no deficiencies and have been given an excellent audit. The West board is very involved with the monthly budget process to ensure accountability of the district’s funds.

If the board has $100 to spend and it could only go for academics or athletics, how much would you give for each? Explain your decision. Both are highly important, we always want a winning team, however; I ask that you look at some of the programs that have provided recognition to our district. The choir and band, BPA, Science club, athletics and so many others. Splitting it 50-50 would be a challenge.

What is your view of the school districts? Vocational or educational offerings? What improvements can be made? West Las Vegas has many vocational programs such as technology robotics. The district is working with Highlands and Luna with dual enrollment, which helps students acquire college credits. Not everyone is interested in college and I would like to work closer with LCC to improve vocational living skills and provide our students with a means to make a profitable living.

If two board members are having problems with one another, should the matter be discussed in open or closed session? Explain. We’re talking about mature adults here. Any problems are dealt with individually. It makes no sense to provide the media or the public with a spectacle. Having different point of views is a natural process; it’s the outcome and what is in the best interest of the education of our children that’s important. The board maintains a united front.

In what cases would you agree to go into closed session? Should there be a closed session after every open meeting? Closed sessions are not required after every meeting. Closed sessions are designed specifically for the purpose of personnel matters and attorney-client privileges. With that exception, all board meetings should be held in open session.

Would you support a proposal to administratively consolidate the two districts while keeping both high schools open? Why or why not? Asking an individual to determine whether consolidation is politically correct or not should always be given to the voters and the communities that it would affect. Culture is a major factor within the City of Las Vegas, and many new comers find it hard to understand. Extensive research would have to be done on cost, and the effect it would have on of all involved. At this time without facts, I would not support it.

Jose R. Salazar

Age: 59

How ling in San Miguel County: Born and raised in the county of San Miguel, outskirts of Las Vegas; Sapello, N.M. Retired law enforcement officer.

Experience: Decades ago was class president, vice president, vice president for both the East and West Las Vegas School district Head Start: did my student teaching with/at both the East and West Las Vegas School districts, along with substitute teaching also.

Education: Attended school in Colorado, father worked for the railroad and after short time military duties returned home to Las Vegas, married and received my night school diploma from Robertson in 1976.

Family: Married for 38 years to RoseMarie, four children; Jessica, Adam, Gilbert and Josie and 11 grandchildren; ShawnaLee, Diane DaNielle, Kevin, Brianna, Jade, VirginaRose, Miranda, Anthony, Leo, Robert and Joseph.

Why are you the best candidate for the job? I feel I am the best candidate for this position. The system of dealing with the past, present and future for the school system bring me to bring our children the education they need for their hopes, dreams for the child to better themselves.

What is your assessment of the current board? In what ways could it do a better job? With current board is trying to go ahead with letting the black-eye members that held and are still holding of the West Las Vegas School board seat to get the children at hand with their strong education future.

Has the West Las Vegas school district better controlled expenditures since the controversial $10,000 adults-only, invitation-only party a couple of years ago? Why or why not? Start the system with new administration and start a true way for our children, and not better our name for political ways.

Has the West Las Vegas school district better controlled expenditures since the controversial $10,000 adults-only, invitation-only party a couple of years ago? Why or why not? Start the system with new administration and start a true way for our children and not better our name for political ways. I believe that the school is to better itself on what was done wrong and a walking on eggs that type don’t make that mistake or other that come back and list them for not investing the sole purpose of the matter. If those that were sitting on the board before are as not true members of our West Las Vegas school board seat members, they should of investigate the activities that come about not give the political system a bigger pat on the back.

If the board has $100 to spend and it could only go for academics or athletics, how much would you give for each? Explain your answer. If given an amount of financial funds, it would be split in half and yet it would be addressed what it will be used for and the important usage of the funds before the funds would disappear to dept. To come back with a true reason for the use of the funds.

What is your view of the school district’s vocational or educational offerings? What improvements can be made? I believe that a child’s education should better his/hers for the future of better themselves and if those children meet its requirements of the school and hand, let both the better him/herself to active the process child not left behind and going ahead, whether for our city, county, country. Many of our children have pushed ahead and better themselves and become someone.

If two school board members are having problems with one another, should the matter be discussed in open or closed session? Explain. If members of the school are having problems, it should be open and close briefly problems be done before meetings. If it’s school, then it should be in the open why hide because of personal issue. You’re there to represent our children as well as the children’s parents of the West Las Vegas school district. I believe only closed doors sessions if criminal offenses of school mater of civil or criminal activities before any information of the matter be brought to the public by school matter(s).

In what cases would you agree to go into closed session? Should there be a closed session after every open meeting? There again close doors should be about civil or criminal matter(s), every member should be aware of the minute of what is to go with the why, when, where, and what. Again a closed door should only be for criminal/civil retaining a life matter of school system.

Would you support a proposal to administratively consolidate the two districts while keeping both high schools open? Why or why not? Well! The history of the East and West have underwent a transition a very slow moment net at this present time our children are either attending from west side going to the east side and vice versa the east side going to the west side. Some family members have bettered themselves and found home on the other side and bring of joining administrative consolidated would bring turmoil annoying our voters on New Mexico have a thing my grandparents, parents, have follow of doing these and we will follow the pattern to the end; the issue was brought privilegeable and openly and was put outside our locked doors and will stay there again until maybe our great, great grandchildren will the school system will be joined together for there are true people that believe in moral values in the having their pride; Example: Finish school, get a job, marry, have a family, send your children thru the steps of feeding and talking educating religion an d walking our children through the step that will be long follow through long after we’re gone.

Yvette Arellanes

Age: 47

How long in San Miguel County: 20-plus Years. Born in Las Vegas. Grew up in Mora

Occupation: Self-employed. Owner of Direct Connect. Independent agent for Plateau Wireless. Real estate agent. Independent agent for Home and Land Professionals

Experience: 14 years of banking experience; 10 years of business experience; past president of the Old Town Commercial Club; member of the Fiesta Council; currently board member of MainStreet de Las Vegas             

Education: Graduate of LCC, course of studies: business and accounting

Family: Husband, Lawrence Quintana; children, Elias, Kristin, Kurt, Phillip James and Ashley; grandchild, Elias Gordon

Why are you the best candidate for the job? I am the best candidate for the job because I am a hard worker. Being self-employed, I know the commitment that it takes to own and run a small business. A commitment that every day is challenged during good times and in bad. I believe that this sense of commitment will make me a good school board member. I have been and am currently involved in other aspects of community service, so I am no stranger to volunteerism and hard work. I believe as a member in this community, it is my duty to serve. I also believe that with a commitment from the board as a whole we can ensure that students receive the service they deserve.

What is your assessment of the current board? In what ways could it do a better job? I think that the current board has done a good job. I believe that its members had many difficult tasks given the situation that was present at the time. I do, however, think it is time to go forward with where this school and especially the students need to be to compete in ever changing world. I bring a perspective of the business community. I would like to see more connection between the community and the schools. I am also committed to serve with the most unselfish interests at heart. I am willing to work hand in hand with other board members and the administration.

Has the West Las Vegas school district better controlled expenditures since the controversial $10,000 adults-only, invitation-only party a couple of years ago? To the best of my knowledge, the district expenditures above $5,000 are now handled by the state of New Mexico. So the answer is yes it is controlled better. The question should be, will it be better controlled when the state of New Mexico is no longer in control of expenditures? I believe that with checks and balances, it will be. If elected, I will work as a board member closely with the administration to ensure that ethical practices and policies are in place. I believe that it is up to the board and administrators to do everything within their power to bring trust and accountability in the way the West Las Vegas school district conducts business. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. We need to bring back the level of pride that all administrators, teachers, employees, and students past and present feel when they talk about the West Las Vegas Schools.

If the board has $100 to spend and it could only go for academics or athletics, how much would you give for each? Explain your decision. Athletics and academics both play an important role in the development of students. Academics will get students through life; and the lessons that are taught through athletics play an important role in who this person will be as an adult. I do believe that primary goal of the school district and the board is to the education of a student. Traditionally 5 to 7 percent is spent on athletics; therefore, I would work to balance the money spent on athletics to achieve academic standards as a primary goal.

What is your view of the school district’s vocational or educational offerings? What improvements can be made? I believe there is room to improve and as a board we should make set goals on improvement. I think that the question needs to be asked. Are our current vocational classes reflective of the new industries in this day and age? I think that an assessment could ensure that these classes meet current and future industry needs. I would like to see more classes in technologies, mathematics and the sciences. I believe that with the new age that we are currently living in we need to offer more of these classes as well as advanced classes in these fields. These are not only hands-on classes they will prepare a student for a better transition into that next level of education. That is what we should all work toward, our graduates going on to their next level of education. I would also like to see a local history class. I believe that this engenders pride in their culture and community. I would also like to see nutrition classes, to combat the epidemic of diabetes that our young adults face. I would also like to see more preventative measures before a student becomes at risk. It is easier to help a student get back on track early on. I would like to see more students take advantage of concurrent enrollment opportunities. We have many resources in our community and we need to find a way to take full advantage of these resources and opportunities. I would also like to see elementary reading and book clubs that motivate students to read.

If two board members are having problems with one another, should the matter be discussed in open or closed session? In what cases would you agree to go into closed session? Explain. I feel that the board should always act in a professional manner within the confines of the school as well as when in public. We are representatives of this school district. Lead by example. I also believe that not everyone always sees eye to eye; that is the beauty of being an individual, but with a common goal for the betterment of the students, we serve, we should be able to act like adults and work things out. If a problem with personalities holds this school district back, then someone is not there for the right reason. I have no time for petty bickering and neither do the students of this school. Disagreements over policies should be discussed in open sessions with regard and respect of the other members of the board and attendees of the meeting. The only time the board should go into a closed session is for legal matters.

Should there be a closed session after every meeting? Only if there are pending legal issues.

Would you support a proposal to administratively consolidate the two districts while keeping both high schools open? Wi