To inform readers about the candidates seeking their votes on the November ballot, the San Antonio Report asked all candidates to answer the following questions. We edited answers for clarity, not substance or grammar, and we did not fact-check responses. We restricted responses to 200 words for each question.

Read other candidates’ answers here.

Position sought:

Southwest ISD trustee

Incumbent?

No.

Link to campaign website:

https://southwestvotebernal.godaddysites.com/

Age:

44

What is your educational background? Where did you go to school growing up and what is the highest level of education you completed?

I grew up in under privilege districts of Harlandale and Edgewood. I graduated from John F Kennedy H.S. I enlisted into US Army, and became Non Commission Officer. After suffering a career ending injury, i was medically retire after 15 years of service. I sought out rehibition and went junior college to obtained double associates degree at Palo Alto College. I am currently a student at Wayland Baptist, which I am Double Majoring. I have been involved multiple clubs in college where I accumulated many volunteers hours. I have also been a football coach for miller’s pond, volunteer in Southwest pony league baseball, athletic/band booster member, PTA Officer, been a team Captain in Relay for life, and have helped with the Southwest Bond Committee with recent bond elections.

If you have completed higher education, what degrees or certifications have you earned and from where? In what years did you complete these degrees or certifications?

Cert. Course Completion Opening Act ’20 AG office
Cert. Course Completion Public information Act’20 AG Office
Palo Alto College Obtained
Logistics and Supply Chain Management A.A.S ’20
Liberal Arts A.A ’20
Logistics Management Cert ’20
Manufacturing Management Cert ’20

What is your current occupation, employer, and job title?

Retired Military / Student

List any previous elected offices that you held and the term you held that office. List any elected offices you sought and the years you sought those offices.

N/A

Why do you feel you are the best candidate for the office you are seeking?

Change is needed in our district, which I could provide with new thoughts and opinions. I would bring change with my no-nonsense persona in making decisions that relay the facts necessary to achieve their goal, and making sure others grasp the situation immediately, and so actions can be taken. I bring new views and ideas that I have gained through my military career by using approaches that would help our current district personal identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and prevent threats in all moving parts in the district. I bring a curious mind set by questioning what if, and why, when, who, and how, so our district can be proactive in protecting the investments of the district. I will also bring the importance of our community interest of wanting to know what students, parents, and teachers are going through. I bring trust and integrity that is needed in being transparent in our district. I have the experience and knowledge in working with teams to overcome adversity in making sure that we are able to complete a successful mission in protecting the most precious investment that is your children’s future.

What three issues do you feel are most important to your constituents?

All issues are equally as important, one not more or less, when it concerns my children’s future. However, if I had to say what our district lacks, which is important to my constituents, is transparency. Transparency is very important to establish trust & integrity. When being transparent, nothing should be suppressed, but I do understand that there are issues that cannot and should not be shared publicly that must remain confidential by law, yet when public issues are left not addressed, the public is left with doubts, which leaves room for speculation of malicious intent. Failing to share is when issues arise. The general public should be able to have an opportunity to comment on district issues, but if the doors are shut, members of the general public can only guess what is going on behind them.

If you are elected, what will be your top priorities once you take office?

Top priority would be to collaborate with 6 other board members in learning the framework of state laws, federal laws, in accordance with the State Board of Education, and Texas Education Agency, in which my school district has used in shaping the educational programs that our schools use today. I would also have to seek out all operational infrastructure of our school district at all local levels in knowing inherited activity, so I am able to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to help me prevent threats toward our distinct and develop a full awareness of all the factors involved in making a decision with integrity. This will also enable me to advocate for adopting goals, priorities, and monitor success, It also enables me to review and adopt policies effectiveness, enables me to evaluate the superintendent, enables me to review and adopt a budget, and helps me to be able set a tax rate. Lastly enables me to communicate with transparency and hold my accountability to the Southwest Community in demonstrating the shared responsibility with educators for the performance of the district’s schools and students.

For incumbents: What accomplishments are you most proud of during your time in office? Is there any vote or decision you would change now looking back?

N/A

For non-incumbents: Would you do anything differently from the current representative holding the office you’re seeking?

A board member should always have an inquisitive mindset knowing wants and needs of the community. This mindset requires certain skills and attributes that should be consistently present in governing a school district and in engaging the community. I believe our board president’s tenure has shown complacency in not having some of these attributes to be accountable to the community .Therefore, I would engage in being present with a competency in what matters most in relating to students, parents, teachers, and the community of Southwest. I would play a better leadership role in the community learning the infrastructure at all school levels by visiting schools not as a micromanager, but as a person that needs to learn how our systems are run to be able to adopt policies and procedures that work in the best interest of the students. I will listen to the students, parents, and teachers problems with a genuine ear of concern, and respond to those concerns in remembering that my identity is accountable to the community not the staff. Another thing I would do differently is focus on an education system that standards are equitable and fair to all students so no student gets left behind, I will make ensure every deliberation, decision and action reflects the best interests of every student I would serve. In knowing and acting that no child is more important than another.

How do you assess your community college district or school district’s performance during the pandemic and the way it served students?

Our school district did their best, but there is always room for improvement. There are many deficiencies and gaps not just in Southwest ISD but with all district educational systems, from Pre-K to 12th grade. Problems for disadvantaged students, the stakes are even higher when they live in homes that don’t have an internet connection, an adequate device for distance learning at home, or have such a lack of access, coupled with inadequate help at home and a quiet place to learn, with breaks in communications at all levels. Black and Hispanic children may struggle and had a key part in the decrease in enrollment. This just proves that changes are needed in our education system in our district. We have to push people to be proactive to address these issues and deficiencies and be transparent so that students and parents are given a chance to put their insights on the table before another pandemic cycle happens again. We need to change at a rapid pace and be innovating without abandoning what works and getting Ideas from teachers and school leaders to preserve time-tested teaching practices while working to incorporate new good ideas. I know this fight is going to be a difficult one, because of the roots Southwest’s infrastructure runs deep and has been there for years, but change is unavoidable. Seeing roots of the future that have been planted with the pandemic and starting to grow. It is only a matter of time when our district must follow suit in adapting to today’s society of technology. In the end, the lessons learned from this pandemic will be up to all of us. It will be easy to slip back into old practices, especially for those whom the old system was serving “Well”. We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to course-correct, to take what we have experienced and learned, and create a new vision for education that is more inclusive, responsive, and purposeful than it has ever been.

How will you approach budgeting for your district given the economic uncertainties? What are your budget priorities you would want to keep intact?

The hardest hit expenditure areas across the country were pre-K through 12 education systems. In preparing a fiscal year budget with uncertainties, it can lead to limited opportunities or successful gains. My approaches would be in obtaining more value from each dollar spent, improving revenues, and controlling the unpredictability. To do this, the district priorities would have to focus on three certain goals: activity-based on budgeting to increase transparency, digitized processes & services, and use advanced analytics to make better decisions. Using new tools in these categories can offer the chance to significantly streamline and boost the employee productivity and deviate from the job cuts that may be needed. This would also free up funds that would optimize innovation in the classroom settings. The execution of such a plan can be a complicated task given the number of diverse stakeholders that would need to be involved in setting up a budget committee. This would include a parent representative from every school, so equity and equality of budget is obtained with fairness for every school. However, if nothing is done, more disruptive interventions and fiscal imbalances can worsen if the district does not become more innovative in creating a budget that has shown inequities during a pandemic.

How do you plan to work to overcome academic gaps that may have developed or widened during the pandemic?

We are living through a slow-motion collective trauma. This pandemic has uncovered educational equity gaps with minority students and students with disabilities and brought them into full view of our society, economy, and educational systems. This has created an opportunity to pause, reflect, grieve, and decide how we want to move forward. My plan is to collaborate with Dr. Adriana Rocha Garcia, San Antonio City Council District 4 Representative, to address impairments like poverty and systemic inequities in my district that if addressed, can potentially decrease the odds of those students to drop out. Additionally, this plan will adopt policies and practices to help with in person or remote learning. This would continue to bridge the difference in home and school learning environments, validating both as critically important to access material at different times and places, and in different ways. Rather than using traditional curriculum that focuses on test prep and time-bound models, my strategy would also consider design environments and experiences that support mental health and well-being of teachers and students. Conclusively, with such gaps, we cannot stop having conversations about societal issues such as inequality, oppression, and poverty. We have an opportunity to use this openness to heal and show that we can indeed have hard conversations, move through challenges, and come out the other side, together as a district that takes care of everybody.

San Antonio Report Staff

San Antonio Report Staff

This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff.