BISD trustees challenged for posts; 14 candidates file for election

Two incumbents on the Brownsville Independent School District Board of Trustees are being challenged in board elections to be held in conjunction with the Nov. 3 general election.

Board President Minerva M. Peña drew two opponents for her Position 6 seat, former board member Joe A. Rodriguez, and Marisa F. Leal, longtime operations director for the United Parcel Service in Brownsville. Rodriguez, who was defeated in the last election, first served on the BISD board in the 1990s. Peña is seeking her fourth term.

Carlos A. Elizondo, the indicted former Brownsville Fire Chief and former board vice president, who also was defeated in the last election, is running for Position 7 on the board, the seat currently held by Sylvia P. Atkinson, who declined to run for reelection. Elizondo’s case, which charges him with one count of theft by a public servant and one count of misapplication of fiduciary property, is pending.

Atkinson is under indictment facing eight federal counts of conspiracy, bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, and violation of state bribery laws in an indictment handed down in December after an FBI investigation. Elizondo faces board member Eddie Garcia, the retired Brownsville police officer appointed to the Position 2 seat after board trustee Erasmo Castro resigned earlier this year in the aftermath of his arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated. Castro filed for the Position 5 seat currently represented by Laura Perez Reyes, who did not seek re-election. Perez Reyes is the Democratic nominee for Cameron County District Clerk. Castro’s opponent is Daniella Lopez Valdez, who said she hoped to represent a younger viewpoint and that it is time for a change on the board.

Monday was the filing deadline. In all, 14 candidates candidates filed for five open seats.

Three candidates filed for Position 2, the two-year unexpired term previously represented by Castro and vacated by Garcia. The candidates are Jaime Diez, Frankie Olivo and Denise Garza, vice president of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Cameron and Willacy County, and West Brownsville Little League secretary. 

Philip T. Cowen, the Position 3 incumbent, drew three opponents: Jessica G. Gonzalez, a parent activist who said she wants to be “a voice for the people and for the unheard;” Argelia Miller and Viro Cardenas, both perennial candidates.

Superintendent Rene Gutierrez is overseeing the election for BISD. He informed candidates of their responsibilities, of the deadline for filing campaign finance reports, and the deadline for withdrawing from any race, which is Monday.

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