The school board in La Joya is headed for a shakeup.
Agua Special Utility District board President Esmeralda Solis and Hidalgo County administrator Anthony Uresti — who campaigned together as part of team “My 5 for La Joya ISD” — won seats on the school board Tuesday, according to preliminary results published by the Hidalgo County Elections Department. Together with Trustee Nereyda Cantu and her brother-in-law, Trustee Alex Cantu, they may form a new majority on the school board.
“Alex and I have been in there, guys. I’ve been in there for four years. And I’ve been fighting. And I’ve been standing up, even if it was against the current,” Nereyda Cantu said Tuesday night, when the “My 5” candidates spoke to supporters at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in La Joya. “But, thanks to all of you, that’s about to change.”
The crowd roared.
“So thank you again from the bottom of my heart,” Nereyda Cantu said. “Each and every one of you.”
Two other members of “My 5,” however, struggled in head-to-head matchups against school board incumbents.
Trustee Mary T. Hernandez beat back a challenge from “My 5” candidate Freddie Flores and Trustee Roberto Zamora narrowly defeated “My 5” candidate Irma Villarreal-Veloz.
“All I can say is: Thank you,” Flores said. “And there’s always a next time.”
With more than 24,700 students and nearly 4,200 employees, the La Joya Independent School District is among the largest in the Rio Grande Valley.
La Joya ISD is governed by a seven-member board of trustees, which selects the superintendent, sets policy and supervises administrators.
Three of the seven trustees were up for re-election on Tuesday. Two other trustees resigned after pleading guilty in a public corruption case, leaving a total of five seats up for grabs.
Trustee Nereyda Cantu, 44, of Palmview ran for a second term.
She faced two opponents:
> Agua Special Utility District board Director Homer Tijerina, 50, of Palmview, who owns Ace’s Audio Alarm & Tint.
> Monica Jean Alaniz-McGinnis, 45, of La Joya, the assistant dean for assessment, evaluation and quality improvement at the UTRGV School of Medicine.
Nereyda Cantu won about 57% of 12,110 ballots cast in the race for Place 1, according to preliminary results published by the Elections Department. Tijerina received about 29%. And Alaniz-McGinnis received about 13%.
Trustee Espie Ochoa, 53, of Palmview ran for re-election against Agua SUD board President Esmeralda Solis, 46, of Mission, who owns Goin’ Postal, a mail and shipping services business.
Solis won 53% of 12,115 ballots cast in the race for Place 2, according to preliminary results published by the Elections Department. Ochoa received 47%.
Trustee Mary T. Hernandez, 56, of Mission ran for re-election against Freddie Flores, 42, of Peñitas, the general manager of Payne Mission.
Hernandez won nearly 56% of 12,032 ballots cast in the race for Place 3, according to preliminary results published by the Elections Department. Flores received 44%.
Trustee Armin Garza represented Place 5 from November 2016 to January 2022, when he pleaded guilty in a public corruption case.
The school board appointed former La Joya ISD Superintendent Roberto Zamora, 77, of Mission, an associate professor at UTRGV, to Place 5 in June.
Zamora decided to run for the remainder of the four-year term, which ends in November 2024.
Irma Villarreal-Veloz, 45, of La Joya, a speech pathologist, ran against him.
More than 12,000 people cast ballots in the race for Place 5, according to preliminary results published by the Elections Department. Zamora won by just 67 votes.
Trustee Oscar “Coach” Salinas represented Place 6 from November 2012 to March 2022, when he pleaded guilty in a public corruption case.
The school board appointed former American Federation of Teachers representative Juan Jose “J.J.” Luna, 66, of La Joya to Place 6 in September.
Luna, though, decided not to run for the remainder of the four-year term, which ends in November 2024.
Three candidates ran for the open seat:
> Former Palmview City Councilman Anthony Uresti, 30, of Palmview, a division manager for the Hidalgo County Judge’s Office.
> Former La Joya ISD administrator Lupe Chavez, 51, of Mission, a leadership coach for Educate Texas, an initiative designed to strengthen public education.
> Former La Joya ISD principal Judy Solis, 63, of Palmview, a deputy director at the Region One Education Service Center.
Uresti won nearly 50% of 12,085 ballots cast in the race for Place 6, according to preliminary results published by the Elections Department. Chavez received nearly 27%. And Solis received nearly 24%.
Five of the candidates — Nereyda Cantu, Esmeralda Solis, Freddie Flores, Irma Villarreal-Veloz and Anthony Uresti — campaigned together as “My 5 For La Joya ISD.”
The “My 5 for La Joya ISD” candidates faced off against Homer Tijerina, Espie Ochoa, Roberto Zamora and Lupe Chavez, who formed a rival slate. They aligned themselves with Mary T. Hernandez, who ran a quasi-independent campaign.
Chavez, a political newcomer who had never campaigned for anything before he decided to run for school board, said he appreciated the support he received from voters.
“I just want to thank everybody,” Chavez said. “I’m very appreciative for all the support I received.”
Monica Jean Alaniz-McGinnis and Judy Solis also ran independent campaigns.
All results will remain unofficial until canvassed by the school board.