Like many of us without young kids in school, I’ve not always paid close attention to school board elections. But this year things are different. This year the election is critical, as the slate of candidates running offers up a stark choice between those supporting science, reason, compassion, and common sense, and those embracing the radical anti-mask, anti-vaccine, anti-science conspiracy cult metastasizing in certain fringes of the country.
Three seats are contested, and the candidates I urge people to vote for are Erin Green (district 5, Mountain), Antonio Jaurigue (district 2, Chamisa), and current LAPS School Board President Melanie Colgan (district 4, Barranca). I had the chance to speak to Melanie and Erin at a candidate forum and was very impressed with both. Melanie is a mom of 5 children in the district, a Girl Scout leader, a Sunday school teacher, and very down-to-earth. Her motto is, “It’s all about the kids.” She’s a moderate who listens to everyone. She follows the science, which says that vaccines and masks work to slow the spread of Covid—a critical issue for the safety of our kids and our town as a whole. Melanie represents my district, and I’m alarmed at the thought of her opponent, Rick Mooday, replacing her on the school board. Mooday clearly states, “I do not support vaccination or mask mandates for COVID,” and further claims that the virus “is commensurate with the annual flu threat” for children, a notion debunked here. It’s not surprising that Mooday has fringe views, given that he is a staunch Trump supporter who donated numerous times to that failed re-election campaign: those records are publicly available.
Erin Green is someone I’ve known for a while through her work advocating for marginalized people. She’s already on the school board, as she was unanimously appointed by the rest of the board to fill a seat vacated by someone who stepped down early: we should keep her there. When I spoke to her, she said one of her priorities is student mental health and socio-emotional safety, which parallel academic performance. She’s finishing her graduate degree and will be a licensed mental-health professional next fall. Erin founded a Los Alamos Forest School program, has been a Girl Scout Troop leader, and was a member of the early-childhood group at Family Strengths Network. She also has served as board chair and teacher for the Unitarian Church’s educational program. She has a history of working hard for all of Los Alamos’s kids. In contrast, her opponent has made anti-LGBTQ+ comments on social media and stated that “[Dr. Anthony] Fauci needs to be in prison” for his work fighting the Covid epidemic—specifically, for advocating masks and vaccines. This candidate, Nickole Aguilar Garcia, also claimed on social media that Dr. Fauci “was involved with the creation of COVID and the vaccine from the get go.” This sort of conspiratorial nonsense entirely disqualifies Aguilar Garcia from serving on a school board.
I was not able to meet Antonio Jaurigue in person, but I’m impressed by this platform, detailed here: He’s the parent of three children in the district, and his platform includes improving school infrastructure, increasing teacher pay, ensuring a safe and accepting environment for all students, and seeing that LAPS hires a new Superintendent whose values are in line with the community’s. See more testimonials for Tony here, here, and here. His opponent is a theocrat who wants Christianity established in public schools, who’s a climate-science denialist, and who believes every fantastical, outlandish conspiracy ever floated about Covid.
Early voting begins this Tuesday, Oct. 5, and the last day to vote is Nov. 2. Also on the ballot is an important mill levy question, the Public Schools Building Act (HB33), which brings critical funding to Los Alamos schools and will not increase taxes. I will be supporting the following candidates for the UNM-LA advisory board, too: Alissa Grissom, Laura Woodring, and David Hanson. To learn more about the candidates, attend the nonpartisan Oct. 6 League of Women Voters forum via Zoom. Note that certain candidates do not have the fortitude to attend this forum and stand behind their views—is it possible they don’t want to take questions that will reveal just how out-of-place their views are in this town?
The slate of radical right-wing candidates will appeal to a small minority in this town—those who believe Covid is a hoax, masks are child abuse, climate change is a lie, public schools should indoctrinate kids with Christian fundamentalism, and that LGBTQ+ children should be bullied and mocked. For the rest of us, the choice is clear. We’ll vote for science, rationality, normalcy, calm, and kindness. We’ll vote for Melanie Colgan, Erin Green, and Antonio Jaurigue.