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The upcoming Albuquerque Public Schools School Board election has caught the attention of an influential local commercial real estate group.
The New Mexico chapter of the NAIOP Political Action Committee backs three candidates for the four open seats on the Education Council in the Nov. 2 poll, the first time the organization has endorsed so many APS candidates during an election.
The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce does not have a PAC, but urges its members to support the same three candidates as the NAIOP, plus one in the fourth open seat.
Meanwhile, the powerful Albuquerque Teachers Federation – which has endorsed six of the current seven board members – is supporting an entirely different slate of candidates.
The election could have major ramifications for the state’s largest school district.
No incumbent is seeking re-election in any of the Albuquerque School Board races this year, which means more than half of the education board will soon be made up of newly elected people.
The NAIOP PAC supports Danielle Gonzales for District 3, Crystal Tapia-Romero for District 5 and Courtney Jackson for District 7.
The chamber supports the same three plus Arthur Carrasco for District 6.
“The business community is certainly hoping that we will elect school board members who will set meaningful academic goals for the district, ensure that education funds are spent in the classroom, and put student learning at the forefront.” of their decision-making, âsaid Chamber President and CEO Terri. Cole.
The Albuquerque Teachers’ Federation supports Jinx Baskerville in District 3, Uche Ohiri in District 5, Josefina Elizabet Dominguez in District 6, and Julie Brenning in District 7. These seats are currently held by the outgoing board members of directors Lorenzo Garcia, Candelaria Patterson, Elizabeth Armijo and the board of directors. President David Peercy respectively.
A total of 13 candidates are vying for four open seats.
â¢ District 3 randomly drew four candidates: Baskerville, Ali Ennenga, Lucas Stephen Gauthier and Gonzales.
â¢ In District 5, Emma Jean Jones, Ohiri and Tapia-Romero are competing.
â¢ District 6 has three candidates: Dominguez, Carrasco and Celia Cortez.
â¢ And District 7 also has three candidates: Nicholas Dale Bevins, Brenning and Jackson.
Lynne Andersen, president of NAIOP New Mexico, said the group’s PAC does not formally endorse applicants, but supports applicants through financial contributions. She said the group was motivated to support multiple candidates after many members raised concerns about the school board’s current handling of the pandemic and the state’s poor education ranking.
âEducation is crucial for economic development, and one key thing that NAIOP is interested in is that there are good jobs and strong economic development,â Andersen said.
Albuquerque Teachers’ Federation president Ellen Bernstein said she can’t remember the last time so many board seats were opened without any incumbent seeking re-election .
She said serving on the board is an important commitment and new members will face challenges such as balancing budgets in addition to pandemic issues around masking and vaccines.
“We are very committed to electing to the board the people who want to protect and preserve public education, who want to support the employees who work with our students and who want to move the district forward in terms of education for students,” said said Bernstein.
She said the approved list also comes from a diverse set of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Two of the approved applicants, Baskerville and Dominguez, are former APS educators, while Ohiri has legal and medical background and Brenning has policy and research background.
NAIOP PAC member Lance Sigma said NAIOP members have expressed more frustration this year with the school board than they have seen in the past. Much of that frustration stems from parents who have had to choose between staying home with children to work remotely and going to work, he said.
Sigmon said the drastic changes in education due to the pandemic caused some members to start attending virtual school board meetings and those members felt that current school board members did not understand what it was like. parents navigating distance education.
Andersen said the organization would like to see APS operate with “a good strategic plan based on solid budgets, which doesn’t always seem obvious, at least from the outside.”
NAIOP has approximately 300 members from the commercial real estate industry. The organization hosts monthly lunches, manages a political action committee, and lobbies government officials on behalf of the commercial real estate industry.
Andersen said it was the first time the group’s PAC has supported so many Education Council candidates in a single election. She said the decision to support multiple nominees was driven by the interest of NAIOP members – many of whom are parents with children enrolled in APS.
Each of the applicants that the NAIOP PAC approves have an educational background, are parents, and are graduates of APS schools.
Sigmon said the election gives the city a chance to “change course” in terms of education and broader societal issues like crime.
âEducation has always been sort of a core belief of the NAIOP,â he said. “We have a vested interest in education because we want great employees and we want our kids to stay here and not just get educated and leave.”
Meanwhile, APS board chairman Peercy, who also backs Brenning, said he was not looking for re-election as he believed it was time for the board to have a decision. new members.
However, Peercy said he would stay after the election to help with the transition period and train new members.
He said he hoped the new board members would support school masking and coronavirus vaccinations.