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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A longtime elected official of college and public school boards is running for reelection as a Central New Mexico Community board member against a retired Albuquerque police officer and current Albuquerque Public Schools staffer.
Pauline Garcia, 68, has previously served on the CNM board and was most recently elected in 2013. She has worked as a staffer for Qwest, PNM and Gas Co. of New Mexico and is now semi-retired.
Challenger Robert Chavez, 57, retired as an APD lieutenant following 21 years of service and currently works in the APS’ maintenance and paint operation division.
District 1 is home to the West Side campus and includes the West Mesa. Both said CNM will face challenging financial times.
The state appropriation for CNM was cut from $56 million to roughly $53.2 million or about a five percent cut, according to CNM spokesman Brad Moore. The school’s current budget is $226.9 million. In fall 2016, CNM served 24,781 students across several campuses in the Albuquerque metro area.
Garcia said the declining funds pose a challenge for the school, and she said she wasn’t sure if the state would ever bring back revenues from oil and gas. To cut costs in the past, Garcia said the board culled course offerings that weren’t putting students in jobs.
And she said raising tuition wasn’t a good answer to the school’s budget woes.
“We do not want to price an education at CNM out of reach from people who really need to be there,” Garcia said.
She said the goal is to increase enrollment, which means more tuition dollars. She said CNM needs to convince students a CNM education will lead to a job.
Garcia attended both the University of New Mexico and the University of Phoenix, though she doesn’t not have a degree.
Chavez, who has a degree in criminal justice from Wayland Baptist University, would like to work with state lawmakers to expand the lottery scholarship eligibility period so new students have a chance to adjust to college. Currently, New Mexico students have to enroll in a state college straight out of high school to be eligible for the award.
“Let’s figure something out to make sure these students are getting every opportunity and every chance to fulfill that goal,” he said.
Chavez, whose daughter attended CNM, also proposed bringing some athletic programs to CNM to attract students who might otherwise attend an out-of-state school to compete in sports.
He said the school should continue to build on its technical and vocational training programs because not everybody wants a traditional college experience.
Place of residence: Albuquerque
Education: Bachelor of Science, Wayland Baptist University, 2002.
Occupation: Albuquerque Public Schools, Maintenance and Operation Paint Department manager, 14 years; retired lieutenant from the Albuquerque Police Department, 21 years; co-founder and owner of The Batters Edge, 25 years; founder/owner of JR Robyn Construction, 30 years.
Family: Joanna Chavez, wife; three adult children, three grandchildren.
Political/government experience: Unsuccessful candidate for Bernalillo County Commission, 2016.
Major professional accomplishment: I have been a public servant for over 35 years. I helped start programs such as Neighborhood Association/Community Base Policing. I also helped start the G.R.E.A.T/D.A.R.E programs in Albuquerque Public Schools.
Major personal accomplishment: My marriage of 33 years to my wife Joanna Chavez, who together we raised three amazing children. Our children are productive members of society who have all chosen to give back to this community.
Pauline J. Garcia
Place of residence: Albuquerque
Education: Attended the University of New Mexico and the University of Phoenix.
Occupation: Semi-retired; former manager, instructor, customer service specialist for Mountain Bell/ U S West/ Qwest, 1970-2002; PNM, administrative assistant, 2005-2007; Paychex, payroll specialist, 2008-2009; Gas Company of New Mexico, customer service representative, 2010–2011; St. Joseph on the Rio Grande Catholic Church, part-time data entry, 2015-present. Family: Single, three grown children, five grandsons.
Political/government experience: CNM Governing Board, 2013-present; ALB-TVI Governing Board, 1997-2000; Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education, 1987-1994.
Major professional accomplishment: During my tenure on the CNM Governing Board, I was proud to open the College & Career High School, in partnership with APS. In addition, I look forward to having NACA, The Native American Community Academy, an APS charter school, on the CNM campus. Finally, I consider increasing the number and strength of the concurrent enrollment offerings at the APS high schools so that students can begin their college experience early and without paying tuition another major accomplishment.
Major personal accomplishment: As a parent of a U.S. Army veteran, a part of the Vietnam War generation and a daughter of a World War II Bataan March survivor, I am proud to support the work of the CNM Veterans Resource Center and the work it does to help veteran students navigate their way at CNM. In addition, the fact that CNM ranked No. 1 among 1,100- plus community colleges in associate degrees awarded to Native Americans and No. 2 in associate degrees awarded to Hispanic students in the 2014-2015 academic year is a significant accomplishment, and I am proud to be associated with CNM in this success.
CNM District 1 Candidate Questionnaire
1. Why do you want to be a member of the governing board?
Chavez: I’m running for the CNM board because I care about the educational environment of New Mexico. I feel that I can contribute in a positive way to ensure a quality education is provided to our community.
Garcia: My entire political advocacy has been on behalf of public education. As I attend CNM graduations, I am filled with pride as the students walk across the stage, on their way to a better future.
2. What is CNM’s role in the state of New Mexico?
Chavez: CNM is vital in providing educational opportunities for our workforce and employers who provide jobs. Whether it be a degree or certifications, it provides an affordable option to those individuals seeking to improve their lives.
Garcia: CNM hits the mark squarely in providing a skilled, well-trained and educated workforce for New Mexico. CNM continuously surveys the community to ensure that its certificates and degree programs are relevant.
3. How would you address diminishing state funding for higher education institutions?
Chavez: I noticed that out of $186,070,510 budget for CNM (2016), $29,420,000 was provided by the state through capital outlay funding. I would work with lawmakers to fight for the least amount of cuts. I would also look into federal grants.
Garcia: What needs to be made clear is that as funding to higher education is cut, so are the opportunities for institutions in New Mexico to produce graduates that are the key to improving the economy.
4. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
5. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
6. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state?