Voters in the Franklin, Burges and Jefferson High School areas will have to return to the polls to elect their El Paso Independent School District trustees after no candidate garnered enough votes to win the seat outright.
In the District 6 race, Valerie Ganelon Beals received 30% of the votes . She will face off against Jacqueline Martinez, who has received 26% of the votes, in a June 10 runoff. David Adams received about 23% of the votes; while Josie Castro Garcia trailed with 21% of the vote.
In the District 2 race, Will Veliz and Alejandro “Alex” Cuellar will also head to a runoff. Cuellar received 43% and Veliz 42% of the votes.
Beals said she is ready to continue her campaign.
“I know the other candidates have also put in a lot of work and we all deserve to celebrate for our hard work, but there’s more hard work ahead and I’m just happy that everybody’s doing it for the right reasons,” Beals told El Paso Matters in an election night interview.
Martinez said she is not surprised the race ended in a runoff.
“I think everyone kind of anticipated that no one was going to get over 50% of the vote,” Martinez said. “So I was really glad that I made it into the runoff. I really had no expectations.”
Veliz said he and his team are confident he will garner enough votes to win the runoff.
“The support I saw in the polls today and the support I see in the early voting numbers are great,” Veliz said in an interview. “My team is well versed in our strategy going forward and the message stays the same, which is to advocate for my parents and students, faculty, staff and constituents in the district. So we have no concerns going into a runoff. We look forward to the same support.”
Cuellar said he is ready to begin campaigning again for the runoff.
“It’s back to block walking, back to canvassing and making phone calls, and just making sure that we get more people out to the polls,” Cuellar told El Paso Matters.
EPISD is the largest school district in the region with 50,333 students and a $528 million budget. District 2 covers the Burges High School and Jefferson High School areas, and District 6 covers the Franklin High School feeder pattern.
These new trustees will be tasked with setting policies and goals for the district; adopting an annual budget and tax rate; and are in charge of overseeing and evaluating the superintendent.
EPISD trustees serve four-year terms and don’t have term limits. School board races are nonpartisan and trustees are not paid to serve.
The District 2 runoff will feature Cuellar, an assistant county attorney, and Veliz, a Realtor. A third candidate, Enrique Herrera, dropped his campaign but appeared on the ballot because he did not withdraw before the deadline. The winner of the race will replace the current board president, Al Velarde, who chose not to seek reelection.
Cuellar, 39, works in the criminal division of the County Attorney’s Office and has worked for the county for over a decade. Cuellar’s finance report published by EPISD shows he collected $10,940 in political contributions. This includes $500 from the El Paso Association of Contractors, $1,500 from the El Paso American Federation of Teachers and $1,000 from longtime El Paso Attorney Danny Anchondo.
Veliz, 28, is the owner of Veliz Real Estate. He previously ran for El Paso City Council District 3 in 2019 and 2020, losing both times to Cassandra Hernandez.
Veliz reported receiving $2,000 from the Texas REALTORS Political Action Committee.
The political action committee Kids First of El Paso — funded largely by contributions by El Paso business leaders Richard Castro and Woody Hunt — also reported in a filing that it is supporting Veliz. Kids First is also supporting incumbents David Morales and Eduardo “Eddie” Mena in the Socorro Independent School District.
Castro and Hunt serve as the chair and vice chair for the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development, or CREEED, a non-profit that donates to traditional school districts and charter schools to help improve student performance.
In District 6, four candidates, David Adams, Josie Castro Garcia, Jacqueline Martinez and Valerie Beals vied for the position.
Adams’ campaign finance reports show he raised $12,175 in total through the last reporting period, including $1,500 from Steve and Laura Adams, $1,000 from Sabrina and Ronnie Adams, $1,000 from the Texas REALTORS Political Action Committee and $5,000 from his own business A-1 Construction.
Castro Garcia had raised $15,465 in political contributions. This includes $500 from the El Paso Association of Contractors, $1,000 from Georgina Williams, owner of YummyGoodness.com and three separate payments from the El Paso AFT totaling $10,000.
Martinez said she has been running a grassroots campaign, primarily promoted through social media. Martinez’s TikTok Account @latexasadvocate, has over 50,000 followers and over 1.5 million likes. Her campaign finance report shows that she raised $4,900 in donations.
Beals reports show that she got $1,320 in non-monetary contributions for advertising.
The political action committee Kids First of El Paso had also initially reported that it was supporting Beals, according to a campaign finance report published earlier this month. Their latest report, filed on April 28, shows the committee was no longer backing her.
Disclosure: Richard Castro, the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation and the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development are financial supporters of El Paso Matters. Financial supporters play no role in El Paso Matters’ journalism.