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Incumbents, newcomers file for HCISD election

A longtime Hays CISD board trustee will go unopposed this May, while another battles a pair of challengers for the right to stay on the dais.

Willie Tenorio, Jr., who has been a board trustee since 2009, did not draw an opponent when filing for the upcoming May 6 election ended Friday.

The result marks the first time Tenorio has not drawn an opponent for a reelection bid. In 2014, Tenorio defeated Miguel Zuniga to hold his place on the dais.

Tenorio said he was happy about running unopposed and felt that it showed people “think I’m doing a good job.”

However, Tenorio said he began campaigning from the moment he submitted his election filing and “didn’t wait” for an opponent to come forward.

Tenorio said he has walked many neighborhoods and talking with contituents, which he felt gained him a lot of support.

While there was some talk of a possible challenger, Tenorio said people believed they were comfortable with his decisions on dais, whether they agreed with him or not.

“I got the chance to jump ahead of the curve and get a lot of support,” Tenorio said. “People are visibly supporting me with signs and comments on Facebook. The support from people who know me has helped a lot to deter an opponent.”

While Tenorio will go unopposed, District 1 trustee Teresa Tobias drew a pair of challengers who tossed their hats into the ring at the 11th hour Friday.


Charles McNiel, Jr. and Michelle Rae Carey both filed Friday to challenge Tobias for the District 1 seat.

Tobias claimed her seat in 2014 when she defeated Jonanna Mikulenka.

Tobias said she welcomed the challenge of having opponents. She also said it showed more people are willing to support the community.

However, Tobias had thought she would run unopposed until her challengers filed.

Tobias said she has not reached out to either of her challengers at this time.

“I don’t know if it’s just the right time for them. I hope to think it’s not anything to do with what I’ve done as a candidate,” Tobias said.

Tobias said she feels she has not changed since she first ran for school board, in that she has always been a “serial volunteer” in the district.

“I will continue to tell people what we’ve done for the district and rely on my own experience,” Tobias said.

McNiel, who is a sales manager, will make his first attempt at a political office when he runs this May. According to his election filing, McNiel has lived in the Hays CISD school district for seven years.

His motivation for running was to get involved in education as his two children, who are one and three-years-old, enter the school system.

McNiel said he is working to “understand about what’s going on” and collect information in order to make his “best run.” He hopes to improve the education system for all student.

He said he brings fresh ideas to the table and looks forward to getting out and “letting people know I’m out there.”

The Hays Free Press reached out to Carey for comment, but she did not respond prior to press time.


Meanwhile, a trio of candidates will take their shot at filling the seat currently held by outgoing board trustee Sandra Bryant.

Debbie Muñoz, along with Vanessa V. Petrea and Doyla A. Burrell filed for the at-large trustee seat.

Whoever wins the seat will take over for Bryant, who announced in 2016 she would not seek reelection.

Petrea, who has not run for public office, has served as the past PTA president at Elm Grove and Blanco Vista Elementary Schools. She believes her experience with the PTA, which includes having good relationships with teachers and principals and understanding the district landscape would help her with the at-large positon.

Petrea said her motivation for running was her passion for education.

“Anyone who knows me knows I’m passionate about education,” Petrea said.

Burrell, a military veteran who has not run for public office, said she wanted to run for the board for years, but waited for her two children to graduate before taking the chance.

Burrell said she wants to support the entire district.While she believes each district is well represented, Burrell hold concerns the district has not planned for growth adequately.

“All of the children need the same representation and not have a motive for one school over the other,” Burrell said.

Munoz, who had an unsuccessful bid for the school board several years ago, said she sought the at-large position as it was something she thought she “would be successful at.” She added Hays CISD is a high growth district.

Munoz said her motivation “hasn’t’ changed” since her first bid for school board and that she is a “great listener” and good at working as a team to build success.

She said she plans to be out and about during the campaign, but that she aims to use social media more frequently.

“I’m kind of old school. I like to talk to people and look them in the eye,” Munoz said. “While that’s important, the use of social media, that’s a huge takeaway that I can be better at this time.”

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