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Three candidates have filed applications to run for Place 6 on the La Joya ISD Board of Trustees.
Oscar “Coach” Salinas, Irma Villarreal-Veloz and Pamela Flores decided to run for the board this year. The race is full at the La Joya Independent School District, with 12 total candidates running for four seats.
Oscar “Coach” Salinas
Salinas is the incumbent candidate for Place 6, having been elected to the board in 2012. Salinas first became a public servant when he ran for the Sullivan City commission in 2007.
“I’ve always treated everyone equally,” Salinas said. “I am a true public servant – it comes from the inside. I love to serve and help people.”
Salinas said his dedication to his family is reflected in his work ethic and partnership with his wife, Alma Dalia. Salinas has employment history with the La Joya ISD (for over 20 years), the Agua Special Utility District, the Hidalgo County Health Department and “several odd jobs.”
“I’ve always had to keep the side jobs going,” Salinas said, noting when their son was born he and his wife, who also works for the district, decided to support each other in their endeavors. “At the time there was a shortage of coaches, so there was an availability to coach at Nellie Schunior [Junior High].”
Salinas would go to barbecues and various events with his friends after work, so the nickname “Coach” happened when they would see him in his coaching attire. Everyone started knowing him as Coach, so he decided to put it on his ballot name ever since.
If re-elected to the board, Salinas said he aims to continue meeting the goals they have set out as a collective: ensure La Joya remains the number one paid district with an excellent health care package.
“It’s all about taking care of other people,” Salinas said, crediting his parents for that example. “Our health benefits are the best. We must invest in those who invest in our students.”
Salinas, whose parents hail from Abram and Los Ebanos, said he wanted to thank God, his family and friends for everything they have done.
“I feel I can contribute to the school district, I strongly believe in helping our families who help the families in our community,” Salinas said, quoting his mother. “What you do in public service should be about helping families. I’ve always kept that with me, and I remember my mom when I make a decision.”
Villarreal-Veloz is a speech pathologist who aims to bring a fresh perspective to the LJISD Board of Trustees. She currently runs an independent practice that offers speech and occupational therapy.
“We’ve been open since 2011, and it’s a small outpatient rehab,” Villarreal-Veloz said. “We do have approximately 10 employees managing time, budgets, payroll, scheduling.
“I think being able to accommodate that and work with that will help on the school board – the experience I’ve gotten so far will be able to help me in that aspect,” Villarreal-Veloz said. “The school board deals with a lot of the hiring and handling the budget – it’s ultimately the superintendent’s decision, but we can facilitate and assist with that.”
Villarreal-Veloz felt motivated to run because she has four children currently enrolled in the La Joya ISD. As a parent, she feels she can bring a valuable perspective to the board.
“Right now I have two at La Joya Early College High School and two in middle school,” Villarreal-Veloz said. “When I would go in and volunteer for different things in the school, I would see things that I thought needed to be changed.”
Her children are active in athletics, and Villarreal-Veloz said she has spent time watching not only how La Joya ISD conducts extracurricular activities, but how other districts do as well.
“I graduated from La Joya High School, and I am a firm believer that I came out with a well-rounded education, and that’s what I want for my children,” Villarreal-Veloz said. “I want to make sure they – as well as the rest of the community – are getting the best education possible.”
If elected to the board, Villarreal-Veloz said she will encourage parent involvement and defend the needs of all students and staff at LJISD. She said her goals were the continued safety and security of the students.
“I think that the current board has done well,” Villarreal-Veloz said. “But a new perspective, new visions and new goals are needed. New ideas with new members will be able to help facilitate that. Everyone should be given an opportunity to represent the schools.”
Pamela Flores has made it her goal to be elected so she can follow in her father’s footsteps and serve on the Board of Trustees.
Flores, who has been a PE Coach and Girls Athletic Coordinator at Mission Junior High for the last 13 years, has been in education for 30 years total. Her father, Lucrecio Flores, Jr., served on the LJISD Board of Trustees for over 20 years, from the 1970’s to the early 2000’s.
Flores said that in the La Joya community, they are not in the business of building walls, rather they are there to break barriers. She said the work being done to ensure everyone has a voice will not go unnoticed.
“I want to be the voice of everyone who feels that change is not possible, and to give opportunity to those that have furthered their education to offer their families a better tomorrow,” Flores said. “I want to give hope to those who have failed by giving them the opportunity, because they were not a part of those who feel entitled or a part of their compadre system – know that your hard sweat and tears did not go in vain.”
If elected to the board, Flores’ goals are to establish a transparent district, establish better hiring practices, build partnerships with local businesses in order to create job opportunities for students and improve professional development, support services systems, teachers’ and students’ incentives.
“I want to make sure every student leaves La Joya with that same passion as I did when I graduated back in 1987,” Flores said. “[It is] thanks to the many teachers and coaches who shaped and molded me by reinforcing those same values my parents did.”
Flores said that as a board member, the needs of the students will always come first, and every decision made by the board should be weighed by those needs first.
“Every child will be represented by my efforts because our children are the most important individuals that we are representing,” Flores said. “Parents should expect them to acquire the best education possible. Together we can become united for all children. La Joya is my home and the children of our school district is our future.”
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 7 on the LJISD Board of Trustees.