Ramos, Paz best selections in FW school board runoffs

Posted Saturday, Jun. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The results in the two Fort Worth school board races contested on May 11 underscore that voters who are paying attention want a change in representation.

In a three-way race in District 1 on Fort Worth’s north side, Jacinto Ramos Jr. received 874 votes, far more than incumbent Carlos Vasquez (578) or former board member Camille Rodriguez (430).

In District 9 in central/near south Fort Worth, Ashley Paz got 871 votes, edging longtime board member Juan Rangel (804). Melody Palacios (73) essentially had dropped out, but her name was still on the ballot.

Because neither Ramos nor Paz achieved more than 50 percent of the vote, both races require a runoff. Early voting runs Monday through June 11, with election day June 15.

District 1

Ramos, 38, has deep ties to the north side, where he grew up and has worked with young people through juvenile probation, youth intervention and faith-based groups. He’s also rejuvenated the PTA at North Side High School, where the oldest of his three children attends.

He’s heavily involved in the community and thoughtful about improving public education.

Vasquez, 45, is a former Fort Worth principal who now teaches fifth grade in Grand Prairie. While fierce advocacy can be a positive attribute, Vasquez too often snipes and scolds other board members with angry shame-on-yous when they don’t vote his way.

Vasquez surreptitiously helped steer a lucrative delinquent tax collection contract to the law firm where a close friend worked. More recently, he almost helped derail a new student information system he once had loudly championed.

The board approved purchasing the system after Vasquez and other trustees visited Florida to see it in operation. But when Trustee Ann Sutherland got miffed at administrators over a separate issue, Vasquez voted with her to block transfer of money to pay for the system. It looked reckless and was negated only when the board maneuvered a re-vote.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Jacinto Ramos Jr. for Fort Worth school board District 1.

District 9

Paz, 30, a small-business owner and mother of two young children, got involved in her neighborhood schools to offer support for teachers and increase parental involvement.

Rangel, 65, a board member since 2000, has had more than ample opportunity to address problems he cites, such as lagging academics and high dropout rates.

One troubling aspect of his tenure is that he doesn’t seem to acknowledge potential conflicts of interest. For instance, he voted on a benefit program that will pay his wife, a top district administrator, a tidy sum when she retires.

He also supported a contentious redistricting plan pushed by a group that threatened to sue the board — even though at the time he was listed as the group’s chairman on tax documents.

Paz has much to learn about the district’s operations and challenges, but she’s committed to helping the board focus on kids.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Ashley Paz for Fort Worth school board District 9.

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