APS District 6 hopefuls split on pandemic, other issues – Albuquerque Journal

Josefina “Josie” Dominguez
Arthur Carrasco
Celia Cortez

A former teacher and two business owners are competing for the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education District 6 seat.

District 6 is bordered roughly by Comanche on the north and Interstate 40 on the south; Eldorado, Sandia and Manzano high schools all fall within the district.

The winner of the District 6 election will join a school board made up predominantly of newcomers. None of the four current board members with terms expiring this year sought reelection. Current District 6 seat holder Elizabeth Armijo declined to seek reelection after serving one term.

Josefina Dominguez holds a master’s in literature from New Mexico State University and has 28 years of teaching experience. She taught middle school and high school in three states, including New Mexico, and seven districts before retiring in 2013.

Business owner Arthur Carrasco has lived in Albuquerque for 30 years and owns a mortgage and real estate company, in addition to being a licensed Realtor. He holds a master’s in business administration from the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management.

Write-in candidate Celia Cortez graduated from UNM’s Anderson School of Management with a bachelor’s degree before going on to work in a variety of corporate jobs. Since 2014, she has worked as an artist specializing in pen and ink.

The candidates largely disagree over such broad educational issues as what challenges face New Mexico’s largest school district and such pandemic-related issues as vaccine and mask mandates.

Dominiguez said the biggest issue facing APS is “the health and safety of the classroom and school,” asserting that there is a need for more professionals on campuses to ensure physical and mental safety.

Carrasco said the district’s rankings have been near or at the bottom for the past 12 years, which has caused a “snowball effect” of companies not wanting to move to Albuquerque due to the lack of “an educated workforce.”

For Cortez, the biggest issue facing the district is a combination of societal issues that inhibit student outcomes, such as working parents without time to support their children and a need for the district to help set expectations for students based on their career paths.

The candidates also differ in their approaches to such pandemic-related issues as vaccine and mask mandates.

Dominguez said “mandates will have to be considered” based on case numbers and community input, but she would “have to balance science and legal considerations.”

To Carrasco, it is important to implement policies that keep children in classrooms.

“Whatever it takes, we’ve got to keep our kids in school,” he said.

Cortez, however, does not support a vaccine mandate and said the choice to vaccinate should be left to families and their health care professionals.

As for mask mandates, both Dominguez and Carrasco say they would follow legal and scientific guidelines, although Carrasco advocated for following advice from local doctors, in addition to the federal Centers for Disease Control Prevention.

Cortez said decisions on whether to wear masks should, like vaccine mandates, be left to students and parents.