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Three candidates are vying for the Place 5 seat on the La Joya ISD Board of Trustees.
Armin Garza, Dr. Andie Lee Gonzalez and Anthony Uresti have filed applications to run for the La Joya Independent School District board. The race is full this year, with 12 total candidates running for four seats.
Garza is the incumbent for the Place 5 seat on the LJISD Board of Trustees, having served four years on the board. He oversees three different departments as the Chief of Staff for Hidalgo County Precinct 3, and he and his wife own a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math childcare center in McAllen as well as oversee a non-profit named “RGV Dare to Care Inc.” that has provided tens of thousands of hot meals, produce and gallons of milk to community members in need.
Garza said his motivation to run stems from the belief that experience will help the district further succeed.
“I believe it’s important as an ISD that we have board members that have relative experience in how a school system works, managing budgets and proven results in public or private entities,” Garza said.
Garza first entered office as a commissioner for the city of Peñitas, where he is still active as a public servant.
“I serve as the president of Penitas Fire Department and Parks and Recreation committee,” Garza said. “For the last six years I’ve also served as a board member of La Joya Area Federal Credit Union, where we service nearly 17,000 members.”
Garza noted several accomplishments passed during his tenure at LJISD, which he credits to the LJISD board. While he has been in office, they have become the highest-paid district in the region, have the highest student attendance rating in over ten years, built new elementary running tracks and athletic competition turf fields, invested in 150 new buses, provided new security fences and camera systems for each school as well as new LED lights and solar panels that have saved LJISD over $1 million, invested over $10 million for technology to aid in distance learning, and there are more students graduating in the district with associate’s degrees than the state and regional average.
Garza said he aims to continue investing in students, as well as the people who invest in students and student interests. He noted that if re-elected, they will continue to adapt daily to provide the safest learning environment possible and advocate for the voices of students and staff alike.
“I humbly ask residents of La Joya ISD to vote for experience and for a candidate that brings more than just ideas, but proven results and actions,” Garza said. “I hope this message finds everyone well, please stay safe and God Bless.”
Dr. Andie Lee Gonzalez
Dr. Andie Lee Gonzalez has a legacy with the La Joya ISD board – her late father, Arturo “Morgan” Gonzalez, Jr., also served on the board of trustees.
“I saw at a very young age the heart he had for our children, our educational system and our community,” Gonzalez said. “I knew that one day I wanted to follow in his footsteps because I fell in love with the commitment and the public service that he was doing.”
Gonzalez, a licensed Registered Dietitian (focusing on clinical, food service, community and non-profit), currently works for a retailer handling the marketing for their health and wellness initiatives. She has a bachelor’s degree in science and Dietetics, a Master’s degree in Public Health and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership.
“As a parent I understand the challenges that our kids and teachers face in order to receive a well-rounded education,” Gonzalez said, noting her daughter is attending school at LJISD. “As a former professor and researcher, I understand the endless opportunities we have for our kids in order for us to prepare them for college and succeed in higher education.”
Gonzalez said she knows that the issues of e-learning and work force readiness are of the utmost importance, particularly for students at LJISD.
“Family is at the core,” Gonzalez said. “I want to give back to La Joya ISD because they helped build the professional that I am today.”
Gonzalez said she intends to work hard if elected, with an open mind and an open heart
to serve the students, teachers and community.
“Because of my background, I want to help broaden our health and nutrition initiatives,” Gonzalez said. “That’s for our children and our employees and our community – how do we continue to create a culture of health?”
Gonzalez said she wants every student to be prepared and able to go down any avenue they choose in order to be a contributor to society.
“I want to empower a culture of authenticity, transparency and inclusion,” Gonzalez said. “Parent involvement for me is crucial – we want not only child inclusion, we also want parent involvement because research shows that with the parents who are involved, their child is more successful.”
Uresti has years of experience with La Joya ISD. A 2010 graduate of La Joya High School, Uresti worked for eight years as a teacher and a coach for the district.
“I’m a certified principal and certified teacher,” Uresti said. “I have the firsthand knowledge and firsthand experience of what the employees and the students need within our school district.”
Uresti currently works for Hidalgo County as a Division Manager. He is currently serving as a member on the Palmview City Commission until after the election.
“I’m 100 percent focused on what the community needs and how I can help the community through my position as a La Joya ISD school board member,” Uresti said. “We need trustees that don’t put self-interest before student interest.”
Uresti is a parent of students who attend La Joya ISD, which he says is a major motivator for his running.
“The most pressing issue that a trustee should have is student and employee health and safety,” Uresti said. “I’m all about supporting our employees with equal opportunities to grow professionally.”
Uresti said trustees should set the educational priorities to ensure the best-quality education to gain an A plus TEA [Texas Education Agency] rating.
“As a district we need financial integrity to prioritize student learning with our district spending,” Uresti said. “I humbly ask for your support and vote this upcoming November 2020.”
Early voting for the LJISD school board will start Tues. Oct. 13, 2020 and run until Fri. Oct. 30, 2020. Election Day is set for Tues. Nov. 3, 2020.
See our story next week on the candidates for Place 6 on the LJISD Board of Trustees.