University of Texas at El Paso instructor Melissa N. Ortega defeated former paraprofessional Laura Márquez in the Democratic primary runoff for the State Board of Education District 1 seat.

Ortega, who was endorsed by the outgoing incumbent, received 57.5% of the vote Tuesday, while Marquez garnered 42.5% with 99% of the ballots counted.

Ortega will face Republican Michael “Travis” Stevens, a San Antonio teacher and instructional coach, in the November election.

Georgina Pérez (D-El Paso) has represented District 1 since 2016 but will step down in December. The district encompasses 30 counties, stretching from El Paso to Laredo to the western suburbs of Bexar County.

Pérez endorsed Ortega, an El Paso native who taught middle school before moving to the university level. She now teaches women’s studies and global feminism at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Márquez, a former special education paraprofessional, received endorsements from state Rep. Mary González (D-Clint) and the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. The El Paso native works for the nonprofit Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center, serving children with disabilities.

State Board of Education members set curriculum standards, review and adopt textbooks, establish graduation requirements and approve or veto proposed charter schools. Currently, the board is made up of nine Republicans and six Democrats, each of whom serves four years and represents 1.9 million Texas residents.

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Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum covered education for the San Antonio Report.