By FRANCISCO E. JIMENEZ
Candidates in the Place 6 race for the San Benito CISD Board of Trustees – incumbent Oscar Medrano and challenger Orlando “Papas” Lopez – agree and disagree on many issues.
“My main priority is the students,” said Medrano on Monday. “After the students, I want to address the taxpayers, and then, of course, the teachers. I think I’ve asked the right questions. Let’s be honest here – the four majority (board members) that we have right now are wasting taxpayer money. I think there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Lopez said, “What I want to do is I want to work hard to ensure that the students’ academics remain our highest priority. In my opinion, education is the cornerstone to any successful nation, and we must continue to work hard to provide the best education that our children deserve.”
The candidates also discussed where they stand on the paid suspension of Superintendent of Schools Antonio G. Limón and the ensuing investigation.
“I think it’s been handled incorrectly,” Medrano said. “I think we should’ve done something about it a long time ago. Whether it’s paying him (Limón) off or whatever the board decided, it’s been too long and its cost the taxpayers a lot of money.”
“Unfortunately, with the issues pertaining to Mr. Limón, I’m not privy to that type of information,” Lopez said. “However, should it be brought to my attention as a board member, it would be my duty to be the voice of the taxpayers who elected me and do my due diligence to look into those matters accordingly,” Lopez said. “That’s what I feel they have done. There’s not much else that has transpired.”
Candidates were also asked about the $315,000 lien that the Internal Revenue Service recently placed on SBCISD funds owed to the district’s on-site health clinic administrator Richard Garza, the owner of ISD Managed Care Services Inc.
“I’m concerned about it,” Medrano said. “I’m concerned because the guy owes taxes to the IRS, and we’re not doing anything about it. We need to do something about it. We need to have a special board meeting or something to go ahead and address this issue.”
Lopez questioned, “Number one: is it going to affect the services that are being rendered to the district? That’s the question I would have. How is it affecting the services that are being provided to our district?”
When asked why voters should consider his candidacy, Lopez said, “With my educational background, I strongly believe in high academic achievements and high accountability of all stakeholders. I think curriculum is extremely important, and I think we need to do our best to provide our kids with the best education possible and hold everyone accountable.”
Medrano said that his experience is what people should consider when voting.
“I think my experience brings a lot to the table,” Medrano said. “Not only that, I care and I listen. If somebody calls me, I’m going to make sure that I take care of it. I don’t like to micromanage. If somebody calls me, I call the superintendent. We direct ourselves to the superintendent. I think I have a real good shot at getting re-elected, but we don’t know, we never know.”
When asked about his opponent, Medrano said, “I admire that he’s running, so I thank him for that. (But) I really don’t have any thoughts as far as him running.”
“I know Mr. Medrano has been there for eight to 10 years; basically, his term is up and it’s time for a change,” Lopez said. “I feel that with my educational background and my experience in the healthcare industry for 16 years that I can bring new ideas and new thoughts and accountability to our district.”
Early voting will begin on Monday, April 28 and end on Tuesday, May 6. Election Day is on Saturday, May 10.