Four apply for position on Belen Board of Education; interviews next week

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Four residents have stepped up to be considered for a vacant position on the Belen Board of Education after Board President Sam Chavez stepped down abruptly in January, leaving the District 2 seat empty.

The district asked for applications from interested parties and received responses from Eugene M. Carrillo, Brian O'Connor, Martha Salas and Tommy L. Wisneski.

The district starts near Cannon Road in Belen and goes south into northern Socorro County.

The four board members will individually review the applications later this week, and indicate who they would like to interview publicly. The interviews have been scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Monday, March 3.

There will be a special meeting at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 4, to select a candidate for the District 2 seat, and to reorganize the board.

Carrillo lives in Sabinal and is a retired letter carrier and Army reservist. He was also a school bus driver for eight years. Carrillo currently works preparing income tax returns.

Carrillo decided to apply for the position to make "school better for the kids. We need to bring God back in the school system. That's my main purpose. As a country, we have lost God. I want to make the district better for everybody — for the kids, the teachers; make it the best in the state."

O'Conner is a general contractor and has been resident of Las Nutrias for nearly 30 years. He has been involved in various community projects during the years, including the building of La Promesa Elementary.

"My parents were both teachers, my wife is a teacher and I have taught at the university level," O'Conner said. "I feel strongly about certain issues in education, and with what is going on right now, I felt it was the right time to get involved and make a difference."

Salas is a Level III elementary school teacher at La Promesa Elementary with a reading endorsement. She took a year leave of absence to focus on her duties as a recently-elected Socorro County Commissioner.

The Bernardo resident said she decided to apply for the position because of the importance of children.

"Our parents, teachers, administrators and staff are one team when it comes to educating our children. We must equip and support them with sound policies, wise oversight and the best resources available to help them give our children a world-class education," Salas said. "Our goal is to equip our children with strong study habits and a commitment to life-long learning that will motivate them to dream big and work hard."

With her background and experience as a teacher and the mother of five children who attended Belen Public Schools, Salas said she looked forward to collaborating with the other dedicated board members to give students the best education possible.

A Veguita resident, Wisneski said he applied for the position because he wanted to join a "very positive and dynamic team that already exists on the board to enhance educational opportunities for children."

He said he would do that by focusing on teacher resources, making sure more extracurricular activities are available and having a very strong elective-class base.

"I am a life-long community member and our community is based out of our academic institution," Wisneski said.

He is the territory manager for Blueline Rental, a company that sells and leases heavy equipment.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.