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SAN BENITO — Amid tight races, voters shifted control of the school district’s board of trustees after a tumultuous three years.
While board members Orlando Lopez and Rudy Corona won reelection, Alex Reyna, a former district police officer, defeated Ramiro Moreno, who served as the board’s president, leading its majority since 2020.
Meanwhile, Frutoso Gomez, appointed late last year to the board’s Place 7 seat, defeated Michael Vargas, whom residents removed as the board’s president in 2019.
“The community has spoken,” Lopez, the board’s past president, said. “It’s very obvious. We need to take back our school system and focus, first and foremost, on our students.”
Referring to the split school board’s deep three-year rift, he said, “It was unfortunate it was divided like that.”
“I’m glad now I have a voice,” he said. “We’ve got to focus on our kids and staff.”
LOPEZ, CORONA REELECTED
In one of the election’s tightest races, Lopez, a vascular specialist with a medical company who clinched his third term, won 1,473 votes to defeat Julian Joseph Rios, the manager of Chuy’s Custom Sports who serves as the city’s Economic Development Corporation’s president, who drew 1,399 votes.
In the race for the board’s Place 5 seat, Corona, an AT&T fiber technician who won his second term, pulled 1,534 votes to defeat Jack Garcia, a former district official and former city mayor working for the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, who picked up 1,337 votes.
“With this type of victory, the public came out to vote,” Corona said. “The way our election turned out says a lot. We want to move forward for our faculty and students.”
REYNA DEFEATS MORENO
In the race for the Place 6 seat, Reyna won 1,459 votes to defeat Moreno, a Rio Hondo school district principal who lost his bid for a second term, falling short with 1,382 votes.
“We worked together, and it paid off,” he said. “We got it.”
During his first term, Reyna said he wants to beef up school security.
“Let me get in and evaluate what’s going on in the school district,” he said. “My main priority is safety and security for our kids. There’s bullying. It’s another thing we’ve got to work on.”
Reyna called for upgrading security training.
“I know we have a big police department,” he said. “We need to concentrate more on training for our officers and our district employees.”
GOMEZ WANTS UNITY
In the race for the Place 7 seat, Gomez, the Cameron County Appraisal District’s former longtime chief appraiser whom the school board appointed to fulfill Janie Lopez’s term after she resigned after winning the new state House of Representatives District 37 seat, won 1,625 votes to defeat Vargas, who drew 1,226 votes.
“I feel very blessed,” Gomez said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever run for any position. I hope we can all work together for the betterment our the school district, for our employees, for our community. It’s got to be all positive.”
Find the complete, unofficial election results of races across the Rio Grande Valley here.