Chamber Of Commerce: Midlothian ISD Candidates Forum Recap

Candidate Forun group photo
Photo credit Midlothian Chamber of Commerce

MIDLOTHIAN—Last week, the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce held a candidate forum for the upcoming May 4 Midlothian ISD school board elections.

Both places 1 and 2 are up for re-election, and questions were asked of the candidates, which are compiled below.

Place 2: Incumbent Gary Vineyard is up for re-election but is running unopposed, so he did not participate in the Q&A forum.

Editor’s Note: This recap is only a recap and doesn’t include all questions or all answers from the candidates. We encourage our readers to watch the forum in its entirety to learn more about the candidates.


Running in Place 1: Incumbent Richard Pena and challenger Lisa Healy


Candidate Introductions

Richard Pena: Pena said he loved to Midlothian in 1984 and he said “I am a little different than the other trustees because I don’t want to make this place the best in Texas, we have been the best in Texas for a long time. If not half, you people would not be in this room and would not have moved here.”

He said Midlothian is the best, and you can look at the statistics, but he really wants to focus on loving the whole child. He repeated what a teacher had recently shared with him. “If we can love this child today, we may not get those test results we are searching for, but next year, we might get them if we love the child today.”

In a questionnaire submitted to the candidates, they were asked:

If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term?

Pena answered, (1) To keep our Superintendent, (2) To keep our teachers, (3) to provide a safe place for students to learn and build a CTE center.


Lisa Healy: Healy said she moved to Midlothian three-and-a-half years ago because she wanted her daughter to  be in a classroom and enveloped by “this wonderful community and its strong value system.” She said she is running because they need to provide the best educational opportunities for the students, including competitive salaries, teacher support in the classroom, and also be fiscally responsible.

In a questionnaire submitted to the candidates, they were asked:

If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term?

Healy answered, “1. We must prioritize our teachers which means they need classroom support and a competitive salary.

2. Managing MISD growth while keeping in mind the educational values MISD is
known for. I will work to make sure our long-term strategic plan aligns with a fiscally
sound budget that does not include massive debt or raising our property owners’

3. We need to provide curriculum and opportunities that are the best around and
tied to higher test scores and student outcomes.

Candidates were Asked About Vocational Opportunities For Students

Richard Pena: He explained that CTE is huge and said, “Why doesn’t Midlothian have its own? It is great to have relationships with Texas Technical College” or others. Pena has been for CTE since he was elected to the ISD board, and his goal when the time is right is to build a CTE center and have it in Midlothian where the students can get hands-on training.

Lisa Healy: She said the district needs to provide exceptional education for the students. “Only about 57% of our students read at grade level, we need to do better.” She said they need students who can read at grade level, do math and science, understand American History and “our legacy. When we do that we are creating quality citizens who can live a full and free life.”



Richard Pena: He said we trade here and do everything locally. “How I choose to interact is using small businesses for things I need in my house. I have encouraged our superintendent to reach out to our companies in town to see how we can help them and how they can help us. This goes back to the CT question and their needs in the community. So, when we build a CT center, those are the programs we can offer so our kids can serve their own community.”


Lisa Healy: She said at a recent State of the Industry for the district, it was announced that there is a mentor program for the school district and the Chamber of Commerce with ambassadors who are students in the district. “I would like to do a similar program with other businesses and organizations” and also have ambassadors.



Richard Pena: He said, “I wish I could top all my opponent’s fancy endorsements. I wasn’t invited to the party, but that is okay. I only want your endorsement. I have been here since 1984, and I have served this community and only worked one job as an adult outside this community, making my living in Midlothian.” He reminded everyone that Midlothian has been great for a long time and the community has been tight because people took care of each other, and they knew we would take care of them when we could budget-wise, and “that is what I am about; our teachers, our kids.”


Lisa Healy: “There is nothing better than an educated voter. I have enjoyed running for school board, and it has been the highlight of my life.” She said she loved Midlothian and is excited because she has endorsements from the local community: the Ellis County GOP, the State GOP, and True Texas Project, as well as Brian Harrison, but the most important endorsement will be your vote.


Running in Place 3: Incumbent Eduardo Gonzalez and challenger Ryan Timm


Candidate Introductions

Eduardo Gonzalez: Gonzalez said he moved to Midlothian seven years ago because of the schools “I want my children to get the best quality education.”

He is also an educator with 24 years of experience, and he said throughout that time, he has been in the classroom and an administrator. He said, “As far as serving on the board, I have 100% attendance” and is dedicated to his role as a trustee.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term?

1. Academic Excellence (Rank amongst top 10% of districts in Texas)
2. Increase Sta[ Pay
3. Never Supporting a Tax-Rate Increase


Ryan Timm: Timm said he had been in education for the past 15 years and finished the last seven years as an administrator. He has children in the district and said it is his “hope and desire to continue to serve the community” in the way he has since been a part of it.

“I look forward to the opportunity,” he said using his skills and knowledge.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term?

1. To remain at the 30,000 foot view that a school board is intended to be. A school
board has two main jobs, 1) Hire and oversee the Superintendent’s contract and 2)
Set and maintain a budget.

2. Make decisions with students at the center. What is best for students is not
always what they want, this is why we are the adults in the district, but all decisions
should be student centered.

3. Be a good steward of the communities resources, we must remain fiscally
responsible while preparing for the future.

Vocational Opportunities For Students

Eduardo Gonzalez: He said the point of these CTE courses is very important, and he noted that since his time on the board, they have increased the number of program studies. “When I started, we only had six program studies, and now we have doubled that to 14.” He said the great thing about these program studies is that they come with industry based certifications, and the student will be ready to join the workforce.


Ryan Timm: He said he knew how important the CT programs and vocational education is for the students “so that we can prepare them to become members of the workforce because one of my favorite things I have done the last few years is getting to serve as a volunteer in the College of Career Fair the last two years.”



Eduardo Gonzalez: He said with the way Midlothian is growing “we are starting to see what I call the pipeline.” This is where they are beginning to see graduates working locally in Midlothian. He also mentioned the ISD Health Science program “where students are graduating certified” with certificates.


Ryan Timm: He said it goes back to building relationships. “If we can build that relationship with the chamber, which clearly we have done” he said to use those relationships built through the Chamber with the small businesses to help support each other. Also having hands-on training in a variety of fields using the resources through the chamber.



Eduardo Gonzalez: “Three years ago, I sat here, and all I had to offer was promises.” He said he promised he would do his best to offer staff pay raises and hold on to what the majority of Midlothian residents believe in, “and I want to say I have kept my promises.” He said he has fought to lower taxes and has been outvoted. He said he was one of two trustees who voted against the budget because there were no staff raises. “We have to take care of our teachers and take care of our core values.”


Ryan Timm: “It is my hope and desire to continue to serve this community and to continue to use those relationships I have talked about to help lead us in the direction to be the best we can be as a district.”

He said that if given the opportunity, he would serve with every “fiber of my being.” He said he loves kids first; that is what he is about serving kids, the community, the teachers, taxpayers, and the students “and doing the absolute best we can.”

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