LJISD candidates spend $156K in the months leading up to early voting

With 12 candidates campaigning for four seats on the La Joya School Board of Trustees, it’s no surprise that some of them are spending big on their campaign.

According to campaign finance reports from 9 of the 12 candidates, the candidates have spent a combined $156,402.03 in the months leading up to early voting. The 9 have also received $88, 323.54. These numbers do not include the thousands of dollars in loans the candidates made to fund their campaigns.

As of press time, the Progress Times did not receive campaign finance reports for incumbents Oscar “Coach” Salinas, Armin Garza and Alex Cantu.

The biggest spender was school board Place 4 member Claudia Ochoa who is running for reelection. The former nurse at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance has spent $31,841.54 in her campaign and received more than $21,000 from multiple political contributions, according to her campaign finance report.

Ochoa’s finance report, which covered the period from January 1 of this year to Saturday, Oct. 3, include McAllen-based attorney John David Franz and Mission-based attorney Eden Ramirez Jr., engineer Jacinto Garza and the Austin-based law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP. Each of them contributed $2,500 to Ochoa’s campaign.

As a Place 4 candidate, Ochoa is facing former LJISD Superintendent Dr. Alda Benavides and former LJISD teacher Leonora Garcia. 

Benavides reported a combined $5,900 in monetary and in-kind political contributions.

Her biggest contributor was former Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas who donated $2,000 to her campaign. The McAllen-based business McAllen Digital Media, meanwhile, contributed $2,5000 in campaign videos for her in-kind.

Benavides’ campaign report, which covers the month of August through Sept. 25, also reported $9,132.61in expenses made from personal funds, loans totaling up to $24,134.91 and $16,149.92 in political expenses.

Garcia, meanwhile, reported $22,016.50 in political expenses. $20,016.50 of that amount came from personal funds, the finance report stated.

The candidate with the most contributions was Palmview Fire Chief Gerardo “Jerry” Alaniz, who is running for Place 7 on the school board. His campaign finance report stated he received nearly $41,000 in political contributions and nearly $24,000 in loans to his campaign.

His finance report covered the period from August 4 through October 5 which said he’s made nearly $25,000 in political expenses.

Most of his contributions came from relatives such as his sister, Houston-based attorney Selina Alaniz who contributed $17,500 to his campaign. Alaniz’s mother, MCISD math teacher Adelina Alaniz, donated $10,000 to his campaign.

The Mission-based business Longoria’s Landscaping Services LLC donated an additional $5,000 to Alaniz’s campaign and real estate broker Veronica L. Ontiveros contributed $2,500. 

Alaniz is running against incumbent Alex Cantu and health care administrator Norma Chapa. Chapa reported $14,703.75 in political expenses made from personal funds and an additional $3,509.84 in expenses made from the $3,500 in political contributions she’s made.

Palmview city councilman Anthony Uresti meanwhile has spent $16,297 on his campaign, according to Uresti’s campaign finance report which covers the period between June 30 through October 5.

Of those expenses, nearly $6,000 came from Uresti’s personal funds while the rest were paid with the $10,500 in monetary contributions he received during that period. His contributors also included John David Franz and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP. who each donated $2,500.

Uresti is running for Place 5 on the school board which includes incumbent Armin Garza and dietitian Andie Lee Gonzalez. Gonzalez reported $12,160.09 in political expenses, $11,468.15 of which came from her personal funds.

Gonzalez reported $1,242.50 in in-kind political contributions such as supplies, food and campaign shirts and $1,300 in pledged contributions.  

Speech Pathologist Irma Villarreal-Veloz reported $11,431.85 in expenses made from her personal funds and $6,250 in political contributions. As she is running in the same slate as Uresti and Ochoa, she reported similar contributors in her campaign finance report.

Villarreal-Veloz is running against incumbent Oscar “Coach” Salinas and former educator Pamela Flores. Flores reported $528.50 in political expenses and no contributors. 

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