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Albuquerque’s teacher union raises concerns over school board candidates

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – School board elections are around the corner, and candidates are looking to win over voters. The Albuquerque Teachers Federation (ATF) has already endorsed three contenders, including Robert Trujillo, Heather Benavidez, and Ronalda Tome-Warito.

However, the union is cautious about two candidates who are supported by the conservative group Mothers for Liberty, the New Mexico chapter.

“There are a lot of different, very radical, right-wing groups who are endorsing and putting money into the school board races,” said Ellen Bernstein, president of the ATF.

According to the Mothers for Liberty website, they “defend parental rights” against the government when it comes to kids’ education. In other states, the national group has been involved in attempts to restrict books from schools that they deem “inappropriate” or “anti-American.”

“We want candidates that stand up for our parents because the school board does represent the district, but it [also] represents the parents and the taxpayers within the district,” said Sarah Jane Allen, the chair for Mothers for Liberty in Bernalillo County.

The teachers’ union has concerns about politics being brought into school board meetings.

“It’s become a political lightning rod for people who don’t believe in the vibrance of the public school systems, who think that things ought to change, are not accepting of all students, who want to ban books,” Bernstein explained.

To be clear, Mothers for Liberty says it has not formally endorsed either of the candidates: Peggy Muller Aragon and Steve Cecco. However, they do say the two candidates have won the group’s support. Mothers for Liberty say they will stand alongside the candidates as election time nears and plan on holding a meet and greet in the coming weeks.

“Both of those candidates are putting the children first and parents and have the morals and values that are important to us as families,” Allen explained.

Aragon and Cecco will be running for districts two and four. APS is holding a public forum with candidates on September 25; election day is November 7.