Twenty-three community members, including former elected officials, retired educators, parents and grandparents of students in the district, threw their hats in the ring to be considered for appointment to the Los Lunas Board of Education.

Applications for Districts 1, 3, 4 and 5 were due to the New Mexico Public Education Department by June 8 with PED Sec. Ryan Stewart anticipating naming designees by the end of the first week of July. Former board member Sonya C’Moya was named on May 28 to represent District 2.

The Valencia County News-Bulletin received the applications on June 24 following an Inspection of Public Records request on June 9.

The call for applications came shortly following the PED suspending the entirety of the five elected Los Lunas Board of Education members — Eloy Giron, Frank Otero, Steven Otero, Bryan Smith and David Vickers — on May 26. Stewart said the suspensions were due to “credible evidence that certain board members have persistently violated procurement and public access laws, the state Public School Code, and professional ethical standards.”

Per state statute, PED can only suspend the entirety of the board, even if “certain board members” were responsible for the alleged violations.

Vickers, who was among the five suspended board members, submitted his resume and letter of intent to be considered for appointment to the District 3 position — the position in which he was originally elected.

In addition to his most recent tenure on the board of education, Vickers also served on the board from 1994 to 1999, prior to his stint serving District 7 in the N.M. House of Representatives.

“Despite the many issues that Mr. Vickers faced in dealing with the board majority and their lack of ethics, Dave never in any way comprised his values and commitment to the staff and students of the Los Lunas Schools,” wrote Walter Gibson, who served as the interim superintendent of the district from April 2020 to January 2021, in a letter of recommendation for Vickers.

Gibson worked directly with and was hired by the suspended board following the administrative leave of former superintendent Dana Sanders.

“Outvoted every step of the way, Mr. Vickers consistently challenged this three-member cadre of board members, both in his public comments and through his voting record,” Gibson wrote. “As a newly elected board member and someone who tries to see the best in others, it took Dave a while to understand that this board would not change its ways regardless of how he voted, and at this point in time, he objected in many ways to their actions and misdeeds.”

In his letter of interest, Vickers wrote he “conducted (himself) in accordance with all applicable state and federal laws as well as school board policy to the best of (his) knowledge.

“I believe that my presence on the board at this time will provide valuable knowledge and insight to move the district forward into the new school year.”

Los Lunas Board of Education Districts 3 and 5 are both scheduled to appear on the ballot this November. Filing day for candidates to those seats, as well as all seats available during the 2021 general election, is Aug. 24.

In addition to Vickers, former LLS BOE members Christopher Martinez, who served from 2007 to 2013, and Brandon Campanella, who served from 2018 to 2019, also submitted resumes and letters of intent to be considered for appointment.
Martinez, who applied for District 3 along with Vickers, has worked as a volunteer baseball coach with Valencia High School since 2007. Campanella, who is one of two applicants for District 5, worked as a teacher with the district from 2007 to 2014, and currently owns and operates Bosque Coffee.

Attorney Michael Doyle, who launched an unsuccessful bid for the board in 2015, also submitted a letter of intent and resume to be considered for appointment for District 4 — the most competitive district with 10 applicants.

Retired Valencia County Magistrate judge Tina Garcia applied to be the department designee for District 1, which has four applicants in total. She served as judge from 2007 to 2020, as well as Valencia County clerk from 2000 to 2007.
A complete list of applicants is below with some information from their submitted applications are below.

 

District 1

Stephen Chavez

A 2021 graduate of New Mexico State University with a master’s degree in social work. He currently works for the state of New Mexico as a case worker. Previously, he also worked for Los Lunas Schools as a special education teacher from 2013 to 2015.

Tina Garcia

Retired Valencia County magistrate judge, serving from 2007 until 2020. She was also elected as the Valencia County clerk from 2000-2007.

Margo Rivera

She has worked in the New Mexico Public Schools system for 20y years in various roles, but mainly as a school counselor. She has worked at Bosque Farms Elementary since 2007.

Roger “Craig” Schlotterback

He is a school bus driver for Los Lunas Schools, with two granddaughters attending school in the district — one at Los Lunas High School and one at Valencia High School.

 

District 3

Steven Aragon

He is a retired law enforcement officer with 20 years serving with the Los Lunas Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. Through his time on the force, he worked as a school resource officer.

Albert Ibarra

He is the current physical education teacher at Desert View Elementary School. Ibarra has also held several positions with New Mexico Environmental Department and NMDOH.

Jessie Lewis

She is an architect, who specializes in landscape design, Lewis said that she wants to become more involved in her community and feels the school board is a way to do that. She has a daughter in the fifth grade at Peralta Elementary.

Christopher Martinez

He served on the Los Lunas Board of Education from 2007 until 2013. He has also volunteered as a Valencia High School baseball coach since 2007.

Charles Rhodes

He currently works as a school bus driver with the school district. Prior to that, he was a registered respiratory therapist from 2001 to 2007, and was named the 2007 Respiratory Therapist of the Year.

Jacob Sanchez

He is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, who grew up in Peralta and graduated from Los Lunas High School in 1995. He said he wants to be appointed to the board to serve his community, just as he did in the Marines.

David Vickers

He was elected to the Los Lunas Board of Education in 2019, assuming the seat in January 2020. Vickers was a member of the five-person board which was suspended in May.

 

 

District 4

Dale Bennett

He is a retired high school teacher who worked for 40 years in Albuquerque, Cuba and Clayton, N.M., as well as several schools in Illinois. He specified in his letter of intent that he has no children who attended school in the district and is not a former employee.

Michael Doyle

He previously ran an unsuccessful bid for the Los Lunas Board of Education in 2015, and has two daughters who graduated in the district. Doyle also practices law in the county.

Richard Eicherly

He is a retired U.S. Army veteran, who previously served as a Los Lunas School track coach, and was the Valencia High School JROTC instructor from 2011 to 2016.

Ragon Espinoza

He is currently serving as an executive member of the DWI Planning Council since 2013, and is a member of the Valencia County Behavioral Health Task Force. While serving as a parole officer from 2008 to 2013, Espinoza was also awarded a Medal of Valor.

Michael Montoya

Montoya currently works as a code enforcement officer in Bosque Farms, and is an administrator for Bosque Farms Planning and Zoning.

Michelle Osowski

Osowski worked in the Los Lunas Schools from 1986 until 2006 in several roles, such as a teacher, athletic director and principal.

William Reed

After retiring from the Albuquerque Fire Department in 2013, Reed worked as a teacher in the Belen Consolidated Schools, and is now a school nurse.

Andrew Russell

He is currently pursuing a degree in engineering at Central New Mexico University while working with McDade-Woodcock Electrical in Albuquerque. Russell has a daughter who attends Katherine Gallegos Elementary.

Michelle Tafoya

She currently works at Ann Parish Elementary, where her granddaughter attends school. She previously worked in civil service at Kirtland Air Force Base. Tafoya specified in her resume she is a feature writer for the Valencia County News-Bulletin, which she is not. She, however, regularly submits letters to the editor, which is a service available to anyone in the community.

Justin Talley

He currently working as an electrical engineer supervisor with CACI, and has four children who will be attending school in the district in the fall.

 

District 5

Bruce Bennett

Bennet worked with the district for 24 years as a custodian, maintenance and food service warehouse worker. He is also a director with NEA New Mexico, the collective bargaining group.

Brandon Campanella

He served on the Los Lunas Board of Education from 2018 to 2019. He also worked as a teacher in the district from 2007 until 2014.

 

LLSB Applicants

Letters of Interest, Resumes

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Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.