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Former trustee challenges Place 2 incumbent on SISD board

Once again, Alejandro Rodriguez and Julio Cerda face off in the Place 2 race for the Sharyland ISD board of trustees election. But this time, the roles are reversed. 

Rodriguez, the incumbent, unseated Cerda in the 2020 trustee election after Cerda held the position for six years. Now, both men hope their reputations on the school board will help them win over constituents. 


Alejandro Rodriguez

The incumbent for Place 2 is criminal investigator Alejandro Rodriguez. He has lived in Sharyland for 20 years, where he and his wife raised four children, all of which attend or graduated from SISD. 

In his three years on the board, Rodriguez has never missed a meeting and always arrives on time and prepared. Outside meetings and workshops, the trustee estimates that he has attended 90% of the Sharyland events people invite him to because it is important to him. And although Rodriguez admitted that he had a prior misconception about the amount of time board members must dedicate to the position, his commitment has allowed him to serve the community more profoundly. 

“I did not realize the amount of contacts, the amount of opportunities as a board member that you have to connect with the community to be able to listen to their concerns, to meet with them — that, to me, has been a very positive experience,” the 54-year old said. “To be able to take those ideas, those concerns to the board level and try to make the changes that the community feels are needed.”   

The Place 2 seatholder said he maintains an open-door policy with the community, even if it means taking the heat. He cited the most recent situation regarding parents speaking out against SISD’s decision to reassign the Shimotsu Elementary principal. During a protest at Bannworth Park, parent leaders invited all the board members to the assembly and reserved them front-row seats. Rodriguez was the only trustee present. 

“I attended because I thought it was important as someone who represents the community to at least listen to them and to hear out their concerns,” he said. “I, in turn, brought those ideas and concerns back to the board. We discussed a lot of those things in executive session, things that hopefully we can learn from, things that we can do differently in the future regarding some of these administrative moves. And [it’s] something that I think we can probably do better with.” 

Rodriguez also said he helped spark change on the board because he is unafraid to voice his opinion. He explained instances where he successfully opposed the district adding new administrative positions because he felt SISD could better utilize the money in other areas. 

When it comes to the safety of the district, the trustee also believes he provides unique insight because of his background as a federal agent. His knowledge of the law enforcement industry has helped SISD develop a better security plan as a whole, he said. 

If voters re-elect him as trustee, Rodriguez said the public should expect more of the same — a commitment to the role and an advocate for the people of Sharyland. 

“When I initially took the seat, I promised the community that [Place 2] belonged to the community, not to me. That I was there to represent them, that I had an open line of communication through that community and that I had their best interest in mind,” Rodriguez said. “I think I’ve done a pretty good job regarding those promises that I’ve made. I think I’ve moved the board in a positive direction, and I hope I continue to do it for the next three years if the electorate decides so.” 


Julio Cerda

Place 2 challenger Julio Cerda is an engineer and a businessman. He and his wife raised three children in the Sharyland school district, and his son currently attends Pioneer High School. Additionally, from 2005 to 2013, Cerda was the Mission City Manager — a role that he said helped him prepare for his trustee duties in the past. 

The election candidate kept his cards close to his chest when discussing strategies and goals for his role on the SISD school board. But he stressed the importance of keeping Sharyland at the top in every aspect. 

“My platform is basically what I did for six years with the school district, which is to try to keep our grades as high as possible and try to be the number one school in the Valley like we were. Keeping our teachers up to date with the highest rates that can be given to them, and also our administrators, so that they can be comfortable enough to teach our children the right way,” Cerda said. “Get the best of the best and keep the best of the best. That’s the only way to run a school.” 

The 53-year-old said he’ll use his experience as a former city manager and trustee to help with policies and ensure fiscal responsibility. Cerda cited the tax increase of 2016 when the SISD school board approved a 4-cent tax raise from $1.33 to $1.37, and he was the only trustee with a dissenting vote. 

The Place 2 candidate said he always tried to find a solution outside of raising taxes regarding financial issues. And he has not strayed from that practice since he was last on the board. 

“Julio Cerda is Julio Cerda — it’s the same guy from forever,” the Place 2 candidate said. “I haven’t changed anything as far as my policies or changed what I previously have preached or done.” 

Cerda has not regularly attended school board meetings in the last three years, but he said he watches when there is a topic of interest. In 2021, when Sharyland tried to go out for a $35 million bond that would not have raised taxes, Cerda spoke in favor of the bond, which the community ultimately voted against. 

The former trustee said his favorite part of being a board member was providing for the students and seeing them earn their accolades. And although he would like the opportunity to do that again, he just wants constituents to exercise their right to vote for the candidate of their choice.  

“The voters should elect the right person for the school district. It’s called a trustee position so it’s somebody that they should trust on every single level because they’re taking care of their kids and they’re taking care of their tax dollars,” Cerda said. “You have to elect the right guy that’s going to do the right thing for you.” 

Early voting begins April 24 and runs through May 2. Election Day is Saturday, May 6.

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