BERNALILLO — Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education President Amanda Galbraith shouldn’t have any trouble winning a second four-year term, as she was the lone District 2 resident filing a declaration of candidacy on Aug. 29 at the Sandoval County Administration Building.
She could face opposition via a write-in; write-in candidates may do so on Sept. 5, which is also the deadline for candidates to withdraw their names from the Nov. 7 ballot.
The District 4 race had a trio of candidates, including two with board experience: incumbent Noreen Scott, who first won election in 2019; former board member Ramon “Swoops” Montaño, who was on the school board from 2015-19, when he lost his bid for re-election to Galbraith; and one-time University of New Mexico administrator Elizabeth “Beth” Miller, who spent 22 years at UNM’s Gallup campus before transferring to start the UNM campus in Rio Rancho in 2008.
Due to a recent shift in district boundaries, Montaño is now in District 4.
But that race soon turned into what will be a battle between Montaño and Miller.
Scott, who told the Observer she is moving out of District 4, decided after a lengthy meeting with Miller and having talked to Montaño that she would withdraw.
“A three-way race is just not good for anybody,” she said. “I’m not gonna run.”
The District 2 race in 2019 had been a three-way race, as Galbraith garnered about 46% of the votes and Montaño had 32%; Michael Mierzejewski took 21.4%.
“I’m concerned with the board’s statutory duties, which is the budget, and how we’re assuring we’re using the budget to assure our student outcomes,” Montaño said, when asked why he’s running again. “I’m just concerned that the board has to do a better job with transparency of the budget, having a better understanding of how our tax dollars are being used. And what areas they’re being used, and the benefits and cons of those budget issues are being dealt with.”
School boards annually complain about a lack of funding from the state, he said, “yet administrative costs have grown over the years, and the Legislature now is looking at ways to curb those issues, but I think, ultimately, that is the board’s responsibility and that’s one of their main statutory duties — and there’s only three.
“Bottom line is, there are concerns with CTE, with transportation, behavioral issues, that we need to address through the budget process and to ensure that for every dollar that we get, that majority of that dollar hits the classroom and not some administrative salary or other costs, like lobbying, that don’t impact the classroom.”
Miller said, “A couple of people called me and asked if I would consider (running). I hadn’t been at that point, but they talked to me — I’ve spent a lot of my career, most of it actually, in education, and I’ve worked with the school district when I was with UNM and have a lot of respect for it, and so I decided, sure, I’ll give it a try and see what happens.”
They’ve had quality leadership throughout the years, and if there’s anything I can do to help carry that on, I’d be happy to do that,” she said. “I’ve always been a supporter of career-tech programs, so I’m happy to see they’re expanding in that area. I’ll have a lot to learn and listen to as well.”
In the uncontested race, Galbraith said she’s running again because “it’s been a really good experience.
“We were able to do so much this last term, (such as) getting our CTE building bought, and we’re starting to work on renovating that, and I just want to keep the momentum up of working on career-technical and early education — two big things that happened while I was in office.”
Galbraith, a member of the Rio Rancho High School Class of 2000, said that although as a student she never envisioned being on the school board, she always wanted to have some involvement in her beloved community.