Joseph Gorordo – Place 7
Candidate Joseph Gorordo is running against candidate and current board secretary Elexis Grimes and candidate Paul Gauthier.
Q: Why are you running for school board?
A: Well, for starters, I’ve got two kids in the district. I’ve got one at Cedar Park Middle School who’ll be coming here in a couple of years and I’ve got one at Westside. You know, I grew up in a family full of educators. My mom was the superintendent at one point. And a big part of why we moved to Cedar Park in the first place was because we liked what we saw with the school so much. And in this particular election, I see the potential for some people to really change the way our schools work here and in Leander ISD. And I don’t think it’s for the best for the kids, for y’all. So I just thought, you know, if I you know, I was like “Someone should do something about this.” And I was like “Oh, well, I guess I should do something about this.” And that’s what happened.
Q: And what past experience makes you qualified to be a school board member?
A: So I work as a substance abuse counselor. I’m an LCDC, which stands for a licensed chemical dependency counselor. And I actually run a drug and alcohol treatment center here in Austin ao I manage about 150 employees as well as, you know, another hundred clients that are in our care. And aside from that, also professionally, I’m the president elect for the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals. So working in addiction treatment, it’s a non-discriminating disease, right? White, black, brown, rich, poor, educated, uneducated. We see a little bit of everything in our treatment center. So I’ve really learned how to work with a wide diversity of populations, different kinds of people, and learning to find compromises and solutions. But also, I understand what it is to serve on a board who’s – the purpose of the board is to serve the interests of everybody or as many people as possible. Not just my beliefs or ideas. So I do that every day. I’ve been doing it for 14 years.
Q: And what is your stance on Proposition A?
A: I am in favor of Proposition A. Basically, the state doesn’t give us an option of “Do you want to pay or not?” It’s basically “How do you want to pay for this money? Do you want to just give us the money or do you want us to come in and take it?” And the way that the state takes the money is by taking some of the property from within the district and keeping that tax revenue. But if they do that, they take that tax revenue forever. So it’s like, do we vote to pay once now or do we vote to lose some of the money that we need to fund the schools forever, basically? So I’m in support.
Q: And kind of the same thing, what is your stance on prop B and why?
A: So on Prop B my stance is yes, I’ll be voting yes on that. Basically, the school district has two buckets of tax revenue, right? One is for paying the teachers and running the schools and paying everything that goes into keeping the lights on, all that good stuff, that’s called the M&O (maintenance and operations) budget. There’s another budget called the I&S (interest and sinking) budget, which is for paying back the debt that we owe on bonds and all that kind of stuff. So basically what the school board has done is they’ve lowered the I&S rate and now they’re asking the voters to approve raising the M&O. rate so we’ll have more money for funding the operations of the schools.
The way they did that is they dropped it enough that by raising this tax, it really doesn’t create more for the taxpayer to pay. It’s basically just a financial tool to get money from here to here. So I’m in support of that. You know, I see so much of what we spend money on is not education. You know, we’ve always got money for – I don’t want to get super political here, we’ve always got money for wars and. you know, military spending and just billions of dollars every year. No problem. We should be the same way about our schools, about you guys, you know, eventually you guys will run the country and hopefully take care of us when I’m old, and I want you guys to have the education and the tools to do whatever it is you want to do. So I think that’s worth investing in.
Q: So should Prop B not pass, and the district needs to cut over $32 million from the budget next school year, what specifically would be the top three places you’d suggest that those cuts come from?
A: Oh, that’s really tough because you know, I’m super in favor of putting more into the schools, right? Like one of the things I’m running on is putting more money into music and the arts and making sure that all the schools kind of have the same resources for all the students, ight? Because right now it’s not super equal, what you get. You know, like y’all are having a different experience at this high school than you would at Vista or at Rouse or any of the other ones. Not that it’s better or worse, right? But it’s different because the school has different resources than those schools.
Anyways, where would I cut? I wouldn’t want to cut any staff. I mean, it’d probably have to be some of the auxiliary programs that would get cut, anything new would have to get put on hold. Like, if anybody’s asking for new sports equipment, you know, any new school buildings, everything new would get put on hold, any vacant positions that are currently vacant would just stay vacant. You know, they would go away. It’d have to be all that extra stuff like the, you know, the ag programs, you know, the welding program, the music programs, the – all that stuff. Because the only way we’d be able to keep them would be to do more fundraisers.
Q: And one of the questions we hear in the school and community is “Why is our district in this financial situation to begin with?” So how would you respond to that question?
A: It’s super easy. Our district has grown, right? Leander ISD is a very big school district, covers 220 square miles, and over the last ten years the amount of people that have moved to this area is massive. We’re one of the fastest growing counties in the whole country. So with that growth, with more students to serve, with the need for more schools, money has to be spent. You know, when I went from having two kids at home to three kids at home, that cost more money. It won’t be like that forever, right? But you got to spend a little bit more up front to get caught up to where we need to be. I think that financially the district has been managed very well considering the rapid growth, considering the economic impact of COVID and considering the rising home prices here and the cost of living, you know, everything costs more today than it did two years ago. So even the best financial planners are having to find some extra money because everything’s more expensive.
Q: And I know you were talking about how you have two children in LISD. I was wondering how their experiences have been.
A: It’s been great. I grew up in Laredo, Texas, where we have a much poorer school district, much less resources, and, you know, I’ve seen what a district looks like when there’s not a lot of money, when there’s not a lot of resources for the teachers, for the students. So my kids have had nothing but positive experiences within Leander ISD. The teachers are caring. They call us. They keep us informed. You know, when one of my kids broke his leg at school a couple of years ago real bad, and his teacher came down with eight or nine kids from his class and they bought him a gift basket. I think we have a really amazing school district that has done nothing but pour good into my family’s whole experience.
Q: And in the last two years, election integrity has become a really hot topic in politics. So do you believe there are problems with our election system, locally or even nationally?
A: No, not at all. Even if I thought there were problems with the election system, over the past two years, we’ve dumped so much money, you know, millions and millions of dollars into audits and hand recounts and all sorts of things, and none of them have found any kind of significant error. Right. Obviously, when millions of people are voting, there’s going to be some mistakes but that’s just, you know, that’s just how things work. It doesn’t mean that there’s, you know, a massive amount of fraud going on or anything like that. Especially here locally, I feel like we have a ton of early voting polling places. There’s plenty of places to go vote the day of, where we never experience waiting in line for hours to vote like they do in Austin, even, right? So I think our election system is just fine.
Q: And our last question is, would you accept the outcome of the election if you lose?
A: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I hope I don’t lose for my pride and for my kids’ sake, you know, but yeah, if you lose, you lose. That’s part of being a grown up, you just move on.