Sharyland newcomer, incumbent sworn into office; Oliveria elected president

MISSION — Sharyland ISD saw a new trustee sworn-in Monday evening along with a new slate of board officers.

The board voted in Dr. Noe Oliveira to replace Keith Padilla as board president. Superintendent Maria Vidaurri praised the outgoing president for his service through the pandemic.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better president to help my entire administrative staff through what we were faced with,” she said.

(Read: Bonds pass in Progreso and fail in Sharyland, where incumbent defends seat)

The board also elected Hector Rivera as vice president, Jose “Pepe” Garcia as secretary and Ricky Longoria as assistant secretary.

Longoria credited outgoing Place 3 Trustee Melissa Smith, who did not run for reelection, for her years of service.

“Every community needs a Melissa Smith, I mean really, serious,” he said. “Her six years of service with the board is really a small part of her entire years of service with our community.”

Noting that Sharyland is her home and will stay that way in spirit, Smith said her parents had died and that her family was relocating to Central Texas, closer to her children and new business opportunities.

“I don’t know if you can tell, but my knees are shaking underneath my suit pants,” she said. “I’m really gonna miss Sharyland.”

Smith also commented on the district’s particularly tumultuous 2020-21 school year.

In addition to the pandemic, the board tried and failed to pass two bond proposals; the most recent attempt failed by just six votes. Smith spoke up in defense of the board Monday.

“They do it because they love their districts, they do it because they love their communities and I just want to caution anyone out there who’s listening to me to be careful — especially on social media -— when you blindly criticize a school board member, or think that they have an ulterior motive or think that they’re not being truthful or transparent,” she said. “I know that with this board, including myself, everything was done to a T, everything is done with only the students in mind and what is best for our students. So please, stand up for us if you hear anything out in the community that is dishonest, that is disrespectful.”

Maritza Ramirez-Esqueda, who ran for and won Smith’s undefended seat, also spoke in favor of community understanding after she was sworn in Monday.

“You get placed in a position via popular vote but you don’t always get to make the popular decisions,” she said. “You get placed in a position where sometimes you have to make the best decision which isn’t always the popular one. So for me, I would ask for grace. For when I’m put in those positions where I have to make decisions that maybe aren’t always popular. I am 100% committed to taking in all the information and making the best decision. So for that, I’m really excited.”

Jose “Pepe” Garcia was also sworn-in after defending his Place 4 seat in the May election. Garcia thanked his supporters and quoted spiritual leader Miriam Williamson on Monday.

“I’m excited to have been given once more the opportunity and the responsibility as a Sharyland ISD Board of Trustee for Place 4 for the next three years,” he said. “In the past six years I have served as a school board member for Sharyland ISD, I have learned to work well with others to ensure the success of students in all aspects of their educationals careers. I am proud to say that we, the team of eight, strive to produce excellence in education while also proactively responding to the needs of our teachers, staff, administrators and of course, our community.”