RRPS, city choosing appointees to fill official positions


District 3 school board member Katherine Covey was the first of four finalists to be interviewed for the vacancy last week.
(Gary Herron/ Rio Rancho Observer)

Mom, former teacher joins school board

The Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education opted to select Katherine Covey, the first of four interviewees, to fill the seat of recently resigned member Martha Janssen in District 3.

RRPS had 10 applicants, but three were eliminated because they didn’t reside in District 3, from which Janssen had moved.

Covey was sworn in Saturday afternoon, as she was slated to be out of town and had to miss her first board meeting, which will be held Monday at 5:30.

The board began the interview process last Monday afternoon, when three candidates — in order, Covey (KO-vee); Kim Lanoy-Sandoval, a member of Rio Rancho High School’s first graduating class in 1999; and Cheryl Montoya — gave a one-minute introduction of themselves, answered 10 questions posed by board members and concluded with a one-minute summary.

On Tuesday, just Jeffery Morgan went through the process. Three of the intended seven candidates — Lee Ann Caldwell, Scarlett Taylor and Carl Wilken — withdrew their candidacy the day before they would have been interviewed.

All four interviewees — including Covey, who has two children at RRHS — have students attending district schools.

After Morgan’s interview, the other candidates returned to the board room, where the board members — Ryan Parra, Catherine Cullen, Wynne Coleman and Ramon Montaño — discussed who they preferred for the seat, with Covey widely supported and Morgan a close second.

“This is very tough,” Cullen admitted.

Coleman agreed: “(They’re) all very qualified.”

Cullen moved for approval of Covey, Coleman seconded that motion and all four voted in favor of naming her to the board.

Covey’s term could last only through Dec. 31, unless she runs for the seat, along with Montaño (District 2) and Parra (District 4), who have told the Observer they intended to run for re-election.

Covey said she would take a wait-and-see attitude — “I am considering it” — and it was too early to make that decision.

A single mother, she has lived in several states, going from Arizona to Utah, where she taught U.S. and world history, and then Idaho, where she served as a probation officer. She came to New Mexico five years ago to work for Justice Systems Inc., an Ontario Systems company, as a client services manager, choosing Rio Rancho as her residence after hearing favorable input about RRPS.

Justice Systems, she said, creates court-management software, provides training, does trouble-shooting and helps with court processes.

“Because of my background in education, education has always been important to me, and (I wanted) to get more involved in the schools,” she said, when asked why she became a candidate for the school board seat.

“I saw that opening, and it was a way to get involved and make an improvement,” Covey said. “I think our school board and district have done a great job. (I see the need for) additional resources for behavioral specialists and a program for peer-tutoring.”

She said she supported having armed security guards on campuses, which the board decided to do in recent months, and said she’d been involved in a similar discussion as a probation officer.

“We were not armed,” she said. “I can see both sides. Ultimately, we ended up carrying weapons.

“Even though my term is going to be short, I am very excited to serve and jump in with both feet and hit the ground running,” she said. “I am committed to putting in my effort — I am dedicated to working hard and serving our school district and community the best I can.”


Mayor picks 30-year resident for council

City of Rio Rancho report

Mayor Gregg Hull has selected longtime Rio Rancho resident Jeremy Lenentine to fill the District 2 city council seat vacancy.

Per the city charter, Lenentine’s appointment requires governing body confirmation, which Hull will seek at its April 10 meeting.

“After much consideration, I have chosen to appoint Jeremy Lenentine to represent District 2,” Hull said in a news release. “I am convinced Jeremy will work hard to represent District 2.

“Jeremy was raised in Rio Rancho and has chosen to raise his family here as well. Jeremy is an active community member and will bring a fresh perspective to the governing body.”

Lenentine was one of six applicants. He is the outreach director at the Gospel Light Baptist Church in Rio Rancho.

He attended Champion College in Arkansas and Hyles Anderson College in Indiana. Lenentine has lived in Rio Rancho for nearly 30 years.

“I want to thank all the applicants,” Hull said. “Because each applicant was passionate about serving Rio Rancho and District 2, the selection process was very difficult.”

If the governing body confirms Lenentine’s appointment, he will be sworn in and take office at the end of the meeting. He would serve a term through March 2020.

As part of the regular municipal election in March 2020, the District 2 seat will be decided by voters, and the person elected will serve a two-year term.

If the governing body does not accept Hull’s appointment, the mayor will appoint another individual within 45 days, subject to governing body confirmation.

The process continues until the governing body has confirmed an appointee of the mayor.

The vacancy was created when Dawnn Robinson, re-elected in March 2018, resigned effective March 13 because her husband had obtained a job in Atlanta and the family was moving there.