By Kathi Bliss
With the deadline for filing for a place on the ballot closing on Monday, four candidates have signed up to run for the vacant seat on the Lockhart Independent School Board.
The vacancy, which has caused headaches for the seated trustees for several months, was created last summer when Trustee Chip Pittman tendered his resignation when his career path took him away from Lockhart. Since then, the trustees have been unable – or unwilling – to agree on a candidate to appoint to that seat, finally voting last month to hold a special election in an attempt to let the community decide.
The election, slated for Saturday, May 12, has been estimated by Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra to come with a price tag up to $20,000, but is the final step in what members of the board and the community hope will finally break the gridlock that has crippled the board for months.
Of the seven candidates who initially stepped forward asking to be appointed to the board in November and December of last year, only Rick Womble continues to seek a seat on the board.
Womble, a banker, garnered the consistent support of half of the LISD Board in his quest for appointment, but was routinely blocked by other members of the board who said they sought a “more diverse” Board of Trustees.
Also on the ballot is Jessica Neyman, a licensed attorney and formerly the Human Resources Director for the Lockhart Independent School District. Neyman, now a stay-at-home mother, did not file for the appointment last fall, and is one of only two women who have attempted to fill the seat.
Raymond Rene Rayos, and active member of several community organizations and the Chair-Elect of Education for the Greater Caldwell County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, also filed paperwork on Monday in hopes of being elected to the board.
Finally, Robert D. “Bob” Coster, a local remodeler, will round out the candidate field for what has been one of the most sought-after seats on the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees.
Other names that were attached to the possible appointment, upon which the board could not agree, include Lori D. Butler, Richard Mendez, Frank Estrada, Dennis Placke, Homer Shaw. Most recently, in an effort to avoid the cost of an election and break the gridlock, former trustees Fermin Islas and Alan Fielder came forward to volunteer their services until November.
The vacant seat on the board is seen by some as a “seat of power,” as the seventh vote will offer the swing vote to break what has often been a 3-3 split amongst the seated board members, who have been showing more and more signs of fracture and dysfunction over recent months. The shift, however, may only be temporary, as the four single-member seats on the Board of Trustees will all be up for election in November.
Those four seats are currently held by Board President Timoteo “Tim” Juarez, Jr., Board Vice President Susan Brooks, and Trustees Brenda Spillmann and Alfredo Munoz.
The at-large seats, including the seat at question during the May special election, will be held over for re-election until 2014. Those seats are held by Board Secretary Juan Alvarez and Trustee Tom Guyton.
Early voting in the May 12, 2012, Special Election begins on April 30, 2012, and will continue until Tuesday, May 8.
Watch future editions of the Post-Register for additional information on the May 12 Special Election and the candidates vying for the office.
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