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Mission CISD elections – Former trustee challenges incumbent

Three seats are up for election on the Mission CISD board of trustees — place 1, place 6 and place 7. In each place, an incumbent goes head-to-head with a challenger looking to unseat them. 

In the race for place 7, former MCISD trustee Juan Carlos “JC” Avila goes up against two-term seatholder Hermina “Minnie” Rodgers. 

Avila is a director of fleet maintenance for the city of Mission and was previously the director for the Boys & Girls Club of Mission. He has two children in the school district. 

Rodgers did not respond to calls regarding an interview for this article. The 78-year-old is a retired Mission CISD educator of 39 years and has been a district trustee for eight years. 

But Avila is hopeful he will win the vote and continue the work he started when he sat on the board from 2012-2016. 

“I see people every day out there in the community and people tell me that they just see the district at a standstill. Like we had that situation with the stadium,” Avila said, referring to the years-long construction issues at Tom Landry Hall of Fame Stadium. “I think there’s a need for change now. I think the people have been there for over eight years already, the people that are running right now. I think we just need some youth in there, some diversity.” 

In the May 2016 election, Charlie Garcia III (no longer on the board) beat out Avila by about a 10 percent margin. This time, Avila said is talking to constituents about what he brings to the table and why he should be elected. 

The 47-year-old’s main areas of focus are teacher security, financial stability of the district and safety of the students. He wants to be an advocate for promoting within and those that have been loyal to Mission CISD. Avila wants to encourage technology and or strategies to help increase the safety of the students, and technology to advance their learning. The candidate also wants to ensure the district is allocating its funds properly. 

Additionally, because he is an employee of the city of Mission, he would like to collaborate with the municipality and other municipalities the district serves. 

“I wanna see what partnerships that we can grow, especially with the city,” he said. “We have that park that we’re building — Lions Park — it’s all-inclusive. And I wanna see how we can incorporate even that partnership, even stronger with the school district, to put it to good use.” 

Although Avila’s opponent is a former educator, there are others on the board, which does not lend itself to diversity, he said. Avila believes that he will be able to bring a different perspective that the group needs. He explained that people still reach out to him regarding school district issues, but he has to tell them he does not have the ability to help. Avila wants to change that. 

“That’s what I’m all about is helping, and we can’t do that if we’re not on the board,” the Missionite said. “So I said, you know what? I told my wife, I told my kids, you know, we’re gonna take this journey and take this step and see if we can bring something different and offer something different to the voters.” 

But regardless if he wins, the place 7 candidate said he wants to see unity on the board, which he is most proud of during his time as a trustee with Mission CISD. And he would still like the district to strengthen ties with local municipalities — something he will work toward whether or not he is on the board. 

In the race for place 6, incumbent Petra Ramirez faces off against Dolores Reyna. Ramirez has held her seat for two terms (eight years), and both are retired educators

In the race for place 1, Amanda Salinas O’Caña challenges incumbent Veronica “Betty” Mendoza. Salinas O’Caña is a software consultant and the daughter-in-law of Mayor Armando O’Caña. Mendoza is a life skills coach and has served at least two non-consecutive terms on the school board since 2012. Neither candidate returned calls or texts regarding an interview for this article.  

Early voting began April 25. Election Day is May 7.

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