March 15, 2023 717 PM
PRESIDIO — Last week, Presidio ISD announced a list of candidates who will be running for school board in the upcoming elections. The terms of current board members Yvonne Spencer, Ethel Barriga, Hugo Ramos and Fidel Baeza expire in May — the board will be holding a joint election with the City of Presidio in the upcoming general election.
Each week The Presidio International will run a candidate profile in advance of early voting, which begins on April 24. Board candidates are Brenda Witty, Jaime Sanchez, Steve “Nicky” Alvarez, Jeremy Velasquez, Carlos Reyna, Jessica Acevedo Nunez, Perla Natividad and Marco Lujan. None of the outgoing board members have opted to run for re-election.
Jeremy Velasquez is part of the dental team at the Preventative Care Health Services clinic. He is also the co-owner of the Pink Flamingo, along with his wife — and fellow dentist — Manuela Avila.
What experience do you bring to the table?
The mindset of not getting comfortable and complacent is what I will bring to PISD. This attitude has led me down a journey with invaluable experiences that I hope to bring to the school board. I figured out how to apply for colleges and scholarships despite the limited resources that many small towns face. I left the comfort of Fort Stockton to play D3 football and baseball at an academically rigorous college in Minnesota. After college, I spent five years working in the biotechnology industry before taking night classes to gain entrance into dental school.
Once residency was complete, I left city life to take on the challenge of working in Presidio where my wife and I have helped change the mindset of oral health. This journey has allowed me to understand what it’s like growing up in a small town school system and how to balance extracurricular activities and academics. I have experienced the difference between private and public universities. I have also experienced different careers before settling on my dental profession. Our Presidio students may have to face similar experiences, and being on the school board will help me ensure they are better equipped to handle such challenges.
What are some issues you’re hoping to address during your term?
Changing Presidio County’s mindset about oral health has been challenging and satisfying, but I want the challenge to represent our staff and kids. I want to take on the task of helping change the culture and mindset of life after high school here in Presidio. I don’t want students to be like I was at 17 years old and think college is too expensive, or think the only careers are in the oil field, healthcare or school system. The staff has done an amazing job with graduation rates and college credit hours, but I do not want to stop there. I want to continue to promote higher education here in Presidio and prepare students for life after high school –– whether that be technical school, workforce or the armed forces.
To help keep our foot on the throttle, our teachers and staff are of great importance. Even though PISD has a good student teacher ratio, teacher recruitment and retention is one of my main concerns. I understand there is a teacher shortage everywhere, and I do not know the intricacies of hiring teachers, but being on the school board will allow me to learn and put me in a better position to make an impact on this issue. For example, I was not able to take certain classes in high school because of the lack of teachers for those subjects, and I do not want Presidio students to struggle in college like I did, just because they were never exposed to certain subjects.
What are some great things about Presidio ISD that you’d like to celebrate or preserve during your term?
We are all aware that Presidio is consistently a playoff or state qualifier in athletics, but I am really impressed by the non-sport competitions that Presidio thrives in. I am a firm believer in the importance of extracurricular activities, so I want to continue showcasing all events the students compete in, especially those with no spectator seating like VASE, band, STEM, SkillsUSA, and other academic contests. Such events allow the students to burst out of the Presidio bubble, experience something new, and open their eyes to the endless opportunities after high school.