School board candidate Paul Anthony Jaramillo, Sr. at his table prior to speaking at Friday morning’s GOP candidates’ forum at the Church of Christ on Diamond Drive. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Paul Jaramillo Sr., candidate for Los Alamos Public Schools Board, District 2 told the audience at Friday’s Republican Party of Los Alamos candidates’ forum that if elected, when he votes he is going to “vote on my morals and what I’m taught spiritually to believe in”.
Jaramillo said he has lived in Los Alamos since 2010 and in the Espanola Valley for 24 years before that.
“The reason I’m up here is because I pioneered Los Alamos Christian Fellowship back in 2010 across from the high school and since then I’ve switched over to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association out of North Carolina, so I changed to Open Door Bible Ministries back in 2017 located across from Ashley Pond,” he said.
Jaramillo said a lot of people have contacted him on line about the fact that he is a minister and that they want to hear his view on “critical race theory, the LBTQ Trans movement etc”.
“Being that I’m a pastor they want to know what my thoughts are on those and how I will approach those if I get in the board, which I actually believe I can add a positive impact to that,” he said. “I’m a fiscal conservative person. I’ve done a lot of things in life. I do not have a college degree but I was a district manager for Burger King. I oversaw five restaurants, 120 employees, and 37 managers so I used to handle a large budget there. Then I transferred over to Tseay Corporation in Espanola and I was their retail manager. I dealt with a lot of finance there with the Laundromat, two car washes and three convenience so I actually had several employees under me in that area. From there I went into the funeral service business as a funeral director. A cousin of mine owned De Vargas Funeral Home in Espanola so I spent a good time there.”
Jaramillo said he has a lot of experience in different, that he worked security at Los Alamos National Laboratory and then semi-retired in 2010 to become a full-time pastor.
“I believe and know that I’m running for the school board because I have seen the changes over the years in the direction that our school board is headed. I’m not too pleased with it and I want to be able to voice my thoughts and my opinions and my moral beliefs which, by the way, I’m not speaking for my church, I’m speaking for myself. You can talk to anyone in my church and they will say, ‘He doesn’t really push his political ideas,’ but I will speak about what I believe. ,” he said.
With regard to the search for a new LAPS superintendent, Jaramillo said he feels there are a lot of important qualities that need to be looked for.
“That’s going to be the beginning of a new start. A clear vision of what needs to be done for the good of the district is part of a great superintendent and clear vision of what needs to be done – leadership is high on the list because it takes a strong passionate leader to get things done in a respectful manner. His or her goals, whoever’s hired, should make sure that the students in the district are learning at a high level in a positive atmosphere and that all students are equal,” Jaramillo said. “ I’m a minister but I believe that every student in the district needs to feel safe, feel comfortable in the environment where they are attending, whether it is the high school, elementary or middle school and I think it’s important that they feel safe where they’re at. That being said, I have a lot of opinions when it comes to critical race theory, the LGBQ Trans movement that’s going on, that’s being pushed in the school system right now- clubs and other things are going on, and you’re welcome to ask me any questions. I have answered several questions for local citizens in White Rock that have emailed me and asked me on these issues.”
“I’ll be upfront with you. There’s a lot of things I will say that you will not agree with and there’s a lot of things I will say that you will agree with. I understand that. That’s part of coming together as a community and making things happen within the school district. If we cannot work together, and as you can see it’s not working out today because there’s only a small crowd, the community needs to come together to make things happen, otherwise it’s not going to work,” Jaramillo said. “I’m here to let you know that I’m a caring, compassionate person, and I care for everybody in this room as well as everybody in this community and I always have.”
Jaramillo said he has been married for 37 years and has two grown sons that went to public schools.
“If they were attending school today, I don’t think either one would have graduated from high school,” he said.
Asked about the proposed North Mesa Housing Project, Jaramillo said it doesn’t have a direct impact to the immediate needs of LAPS students.
“If it’s affordable housing, I think that’s great. But the experience I’ve had is there are 160 homes under construction in White Rock near La Vista Church. That was supposed to be affordable housing for EMTs, school teachers and so on. It ended up being homes priced between $400,000 and $775,000. I wouldn’t call that affordable housing so if they can convince me that our students can be provided, with their parents, affordable housing on North Mesa, I will support it,” Jaramillo said. “If I am on the board I will make sure that happens or that I make an effort to make sure that happens. Growth always brings more students and traffic,and safety can become an issue. All of that will have to be looked at by the school district and considered in all areas, but when they talk about affordable housing, I have a big question mark when it comes to that because we have had a bad experience when it comes to White Rock.”
Asked why his sons would not graduate from high school if they were currently attending, Jaramillo responded, “You can probably tell that I’m Hispanic or Mexican. There’s a movement moving through the schools right now which is called the critical race theory. I have a lot of concerns about that because of the fact that critical race theory is not designed to get people to move forward; it actually holds them down. It reminds them of their past and keeps them at that point,” he said.
Jaramillo said back in the day, he wasn’t sure if it was in the 1990s or the 2000s, there was an accusation of black people not being able to get mortgages.
“I’m a victim of a mortgage that was refused to me due to the fact that I thought they thought I was probably Hispanic and couldn’t afford the house that I was buying at the time. Well, let me tell you something, that experience should not determine my success looking forward. Critical race theory is designed to destroy our social system by holding our students down. If we keep talking about it and keep reminding them, what’s going to happen is they’re going to stay at that point and they’re not going to give their all because of the fact that we keep reminding them of where they from and what kind of experience their ancestors had,” Jaramillo said. “I‘m sorry that my ancestors had bad experiences. I’ve had a bad experience but I’m not going to let that identify who I am going forward and me standing up here pretty much proves that.”
He said housing should be made affordable for teachers because he has seen the kind of money that my wife has made over the years.
“If your husband or spouse is not working at the Lab, and you’re not supplementing a teacher’s income, you can’t afford to buy a house in Los Alamo,” Jaramillo said.
He said when the 160 homes are completed in White Rock it’s going to double the population of Pinon Elementary School.
“So we can all imagine the redistricting and the restructuring that will be done with that kind of growth in White Rock. It’s going to change Chamisa and it’s going to change Pinon Elementary School. I would love to be part of that growth, part of the direction that’s going to go into because it’s going to make some big changes to the students down there. I think our students need to be put first in whatever is decided in that,” Jaramillo said.
Jaramillo said he had received a question from a White Rock resident asking what role he sees the school system playing in the mental health of LGBTQ+ students and whether he felt that services should be provided for those students, that they may start to question their gender, identity and sexual orientation.
“The first thing I have to say to that is first of all, it doesn’t matter what level of the school district you work in, you’re not a medical provider. We’re not there to psychologically direct students and help them decide what they’re going to be in the future. That’s their parents and their personal medical advisor to do that. The only thing I think the schools school should have a part in, is making a safe place for all students,” he said. “And I will underline all students because of the fact that right now that movement – what’s happening that the acceptance of that – I understand it. I get it. They need to feel safe and they need to be happy in their environment but what’s happening is the Christian, the believer, is being pushed aside and their voice is being silenced and I’ll tell you why.”
Jaramillo went on to say he had a seventh grade student in one of his classes during the four years that he worked for the school district, who stood up and said he wanted to be part of show and tell but was afraid to because he was ashamed to, “because everybody had something to show but what I want to show they can’t see. It’s Jesus”.
“My advice to him was you should have gone up and done what you felt in your heart you needed to do. If I would say that today, I would get in trouble. I really think that all students need to feel safe and that includes every student that comes from no matter what background,” Jaramillo said.
Later during a question and answer session, Jaramillo said, “Those students even though they are who they are deserve to be protected as well as anybody else. There’s not a balance. The Christian believers can’t even say ‘God’ in the hallways. (They’re) putting posters advertising the clubs for all of these things but yet we as Christians can’t put our information out publicly in the schools. When I talk about feeling safe, I’m talking about every student feeling safe, even the Christians in the same manner as I call it the other religion. If they can teach their religion, we can teach our religion. We can make them feel safe, but we need to feel safe too”.