The future of New Mexico is tied up in how well the children of our state become educated. The future of New Mexico, too, depends on whether adults have access to college, job training programs and lifeling learning opportunities. Improving education matters, which is why voters should pay attention to contests for school district and college boards.

Three races are on the ballot for the Nov. 5 consolidated local elections for the Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education. The board must juggle declining enrollment, aging facilities that are not always full and increasing pressure to improve student performance. It’s a tough job, and we were impressed with the level of commitment from candidates who are competing

For District 1 on the school board, longtime educator Carmen Gonzales is challenging incumbent Steven J. Carrillo, who is seeking his third term on the board. It’s never easy to upset an incumbent and Carrillo has plenty of accomplishments to point to — if he wins a third term, he will continue to serve well.

However, Gonzales’ background in education, her knowledge of policy and her exquisite cultural understanding is what Santa Fe needs now. Especially as the state of New Mexico begins to implement early-childhood education, children need adults with cultural sensitivity and awareness in charge. Gonzales, who was punished for speaking Spanish as a child in Santa Fe at elementary school, will be a voice for those families. For District 1, the New Mexican endorses Carmen Gonzales.

The race to replace incumbent Maureen Cashmon in District 2 once again offers voters two excellent choices. Whoever is not elected, we hope, will volunteer their expertise at the district level helping plan the future of Santa Fe schools.

Both Sarah Boses and John Triolo bring valuable expertise to the race. As a former public schools superintendent, Triolo understands education policy and the impossible mathematics of trying to operate schools with too-few children. At last week’s forum, he stated clearly that he would not take school closures off the table; he’s a man who won’t pander. We hope to see him stay involved.

Boses, however, brings the perspective of a parent with small children in district schools and of someone who grew up in Santa Fe — attending Wood Gormley elementary and St. Michael’s High School before graduating from Santa Fe High. She went off to attend New Mexico State University, moved to Florida and now has returned home to raise her kids. She did all this despite becoming pregnant in high school. Today, with success as a nurse, mom and wife, she can serve as an example of someone who didn’t let anything stop her from meeting her goals. For District 2, the New Mexican endorses Sarah Boses.

Representing the south side of Santa Fe, incumbent Rudy Garcia is running unopposed for District 4. That’s a shame, because his neighborhood is where so many of Santa Fe Public Schools students live. They need a more present and vocal proponent on the board.

The situation with candidates running for positions on the governing board of the Santa Fe Community College features even greater competition, with the five candidates we interviewed among the brightest and most creative in all races this election season.

For Position 3, two scientists, Ruth H. Howes and Jody M. Pugh, are facing off. We were impressed with Howes’ commitment to students — she’s a tutor in the public schools and at SFCC and has many years of experience as a university professor and administrator — and with Pugh’s determination to help create more relationships between the college and potential employers. Either would be a fine addition to the board. Pugh, who is charged with hiring in her job as a supervisor with the Department of Energy, also has experience managing budgets and putting together strategic plans. She is familiar with SFCC from years of taking classes and believes it is a “gem” for the city that can be made to shine even brighter. For Santa Fe Community College governing board, Position 3, Jody M. Pugh.

The second open seat features a three-person race — and again, we like these candidates. David W. Dannenberg, in particular, has a vision for bringing more tech jobs to Santa Fe using the community college and incentives from local and state governments. He needs to be working with city of Santa Fe and state leaders — his expertise is impressive. Miguel A. Acosta, a local organizer, has years of experience helping students from Northern New Mexico succeed.

Then there is Piér Quintana, who formerly worked at the community college and now is an administrator at St. John’s College. At 34, she is the youngest candidate in the race and would bring the important perspective of a first-generation college graduate to the position. Of all the candidates, she perhaps has the best — and most recent — understanding of what a community college can mean to a student working her way through school. That’s a voice the governing board needs. For Position 5, Piér Quintana.

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