The Sullivan City Council on Tuesday endorsed a candidate for the La Joya School Board.
Mayor Alma Salinas signed a resolution Tuesday afternoon that pleaded for the La Joya Independent School District to appoint Guadalupe “Lupe” Chávez51 years old, from Mission to the Place 6 school board.
“I’ve always been engaged with the students in this area, so when I heard about this resolution supporting me, it made me very humbled. Very humbled,” said Chavez, who moved to Los Ebanos as a child and attended schools in La Joya “I’m very grateful.”
Chavez earned a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2015 and served as Director of Academies at La Joya ISD from 2016-2021. He is currently a leadership coach for Educate Texas, an initiative designed to strengthen public education.
“The reason I decided to serve on the school board is because one of my goals is to align all programs, all services, all activities 100% with the mission statement,” Chávez said. “We need to provide students with high quality educational programs and training that either lead to a good job or a transition to a post-secondary credential or diploma.
The mayor’s husband, Oscar “Coach” Salinas, represented Place 6 from November 2012 until March 2022, when he pleaded guilty to a major public corruption case and resigned.
His resignation has created a vacancy on the school board – and a political headache for La Joya ISD.
Under state law, La Joya ISD is required to hold a special election to replace Salinas. The school board has scheduled the special election for Nov. 8.
State law, however, also required La Joya ISD to fill the vacancy within 180 days. Deadline is September 6 according to a note given to the members of the school board.
This put the school board in the awkward position of having to appoint someone to Place 6 just three months before the special election.
Eleven people submitted resumes and cover letters to La Joya ISD, asking the school board to nominate them.
Candidates included Chavez, former Palmview councilman Antoine Urestiformer administrator of La Joya ISD Isaac V. Sulemana of Sullivan City and former representative of the American Federation of Teachers JJ Luna of La Joya.
Chavez and Uresti will also appear on the November ballot.
Uresti said the Sullivan City Council did not contact him before deciding to support Chavez.
“I would like everyone who is racing to have the opportunity to at least say why we are the most qualified for the place,” Uresti said.
Uresti also questioned why the city council would support the nomination of one candidate over another in a contested election.
“I don’t think taxpayers’ money should be mismanaged trying to influence political decisions,” Uresti said.
Asked after the city council meeting, Alma Salinas said the resolution spoke for itself.
The resolution praises Chavez as “a true leader” who volunteers at community events and is an “outstanding advocate for education.”
“While after careful consideration, the Sullivan City Council believes that it would be most appropriate and natural for Lupe Chavez to serve the community in this capacity,” according to The resolution. “Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Council of the Town of Sullivan City hereby endorses the nomination and nomination of Lupe Chavez to serve as Place 6, La Joya ISD expires (sic) November 2022.”
The city council approved the resolution without any discussion.
Alma Salinas, Councilman Rene “Cuate” Peña and Councilman Ramon Moreno supported the resolution. Councilman Julian Peña and Councilor Jaime Villarreal did not attend the meeting.
Rene “Cuate” Peña said the city council decided to back Chavez because he’s from Sullivan City.
“I know he’s a good person, a smart person,” Rene “Cuate” Peña said. “So I know he’s the right candidate.”