The Alamo Colleges District received more than $19 million in federal grants.
The Alamo Colleges District received more than $19 million in federal grants. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Voters have the chance to cast their ballots again starting Monday for the two Alamo Colleges District races that resulted in runoff elections.

Early voting in the Dec. 12 runoff elections begins Monday and runs through Dec. 8 at seven San Antonio locations. Vote centers will be closed Dec. 6.

The District 4 and District 9 board of trustees races are between the top two vote-getters in each of the races. No candidate in either race captured a majority of the votes in the Nov. 3 election, resulting in the runoffs after the board canvassed the votes last week. State law mandates that board candidates must be elected by a majority vote in single-member districts.

District 4: Lorena ‘Lorraine’ Pulido vs. Jose ‘Joe’ Gallegos Jr.

In the District 4 race, Lorena “Lorraine” Pulido, 50, faces Jose “Joe” Gallegos Jr., 68. Pulido, who received the most votes of all four candidates with 34 percent, works as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and as the communications manager and public information officer for VIA Metropolitan Transit. Gallegos, who came in second with 27 percent of the vote, retired from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Parole Division.

Current District 4 trustee and board Chair Marcelo Casillas is stepping down from the board.

Both District 4 candidates favor no tax rate increases for the college district because of the financial crises many people are facing during the pandemic. Pulido and Gallegos also agree that Alamo Colleges needs to secure long-term funding sources for its Alamo Promise scholarship program, which is funded through public and private sponsors.

Additionally, Pulido said her experience teaching at the college level for more than 20 years sets her apart from Gallegos. She also can relate to the many part-time, nontraditional students who attend Alamo Colleges because she was one of those students.

“I was a teen mom, so I had to learn from a very young age how to juggle all the different demands of my life,” she said. “I’ve had to juggle work and school, which is something that the current student demographic of Alamo Colleges does.”

Gallegos also knows what it’s like to be a nontraditional student. He was the first person in his family to graduate from high school and from college, after dropping out of high school at his father’s insistence. When he returned to school, he also juggled school and his family life.

District 9: Joe Jesse Sanchez vs. Leslie Sachanowicz

In District 9, incumbent Joe Jesse Sanchez, a 72-year-old retired educator, faces lawyer Leslie Sachanowicz, 63. Sachanowicz garnered the most votes in the Nov. 3 election with 45 percent, with Sanchez trailing with 34 percent of the vote.

Sachanowicz said his 20-plus years practicing governmental law provide him with the insight and knowledge necessary to serve on the board, as well as his experience managing the human resources and compliance departments at a local credit union. He also taught at the college level for 20 years.

“I think that my toolbox and experience is a little bit more abundant than my opponent’s,” he said. “I’m not one-dimensional.”

Meanwhile, Sanchez said voters should reelect him to maintain the “good momentum” of the college district. He pointed to the Alamo Promise program as one example of that positive momentum.

“There’s very good cooperation amongst the board members,” he said. “We do put students first.”

Sachanowicz said his top priorities, if elected, would be examining the budget for ways to limit expenses in light of the coronavirus pandemic. He also would reevaluate the new instruction methods the college district adopted since the pandemic began.

Sanchez said those new methods are part of the reason why voters should reelect him. He said a survey of students revealed 80 percent approved of the changes faculty made to accommodate students during the pandemic.

Voting locations include the Bexar County Election Department, Encino Park Library, Johnston Library, Northwest Vista College, Palo Alto College, San Antonio College, and Tobin Library.

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Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum covered education for the San Antonio Report.