Recalled Sunnyside board member says he will become a watchdog - Tucson News Now

Recalled Sunnyside board member says he will become a watchdog

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A shift in the balance of power in the Sunnyside School District leaves Superintendent Dr. Manuel Isquiero in an even more uncertain position.

On Tuesday voters recalled two board members who generally support Isquiero.

Sunnyside is a district that has been torn apart by contention and controversy, especially over the last year.

With the recall election over, some in the district are breathing a sigh of relief.

However, there's no guarantee things will now settle down.

Voters recalled board members Louie Gonzales and Bobby Garcia.

Eric Giffin and Beki Quintero will take their places.

We heard from the winners Tuesday night.

Wednesday we heard from Gonzales and Eva Carrillo Dong.

Carrillo Dong was not targeted for recall, but also has supported Isquierdo.

Both say they hope the strides the district has made in raising graduation rates, lowering the dropout rate and bringing high tech to the district will not suffer as the board transitions.

Gonzales says the community was misled and he expects the students will pay the price.

He says the district has been moving upward ever since Isquiero was made superintendent seven years ago.

Gonzales predicts, with the new board majority that opposes Isquiero, the district will falter and the community will realize it made the wrong decision.

"We had strong visions, strong goals, good leadership. We were risk takers. Our performance was never in jeopardy. We never did anything wrong. And I just hope that this leadership and the vindictiveness on the--the stuff that occurred up to this election doesn't move now into the board room and continues," Gonzales says.

Gonzales says he has several grandchildren attending Sunnyside schools.

He says once he's no longer an elected official he will be free to speak his mind.

He says he will hold the new majority on the board responsible if the district's improving numbers, including the graduation rate, begin to fall.

"I'm going to be their watchdog. I'm probably going to be more dangerous to them now than as a board member because as a board member I had to hold to certain standards and be professional because I was an elected official. That's changed now," Gonzales says.

"I can actually call a liar, a liar. Where before I would never--I wasn't able to say anything on the board you know. They would accuse us of things and make accusations and, because we were not able to respond, they thought, 'Oh. They're not responding.' But legally we couldn't respond. I can respond now," Gonzales says.

Carrillo Dong says She will be running for re-election to continue to help the district improve.

She points to proof that the district, that was once known as a dropout factory, is improving.

"We are no longer able to get certain dropout money--grants-- because we no longer have the high dropout rates. We are now also sending more and more kids to colleges with incredible amounts of scholarships that are being given to our children, and that is just some incredible things that have been occurring," Carrillo Dong says.

Voter turnout in Tuesday's election was about 15 percent.

The new board members will serve out the terms of the recalled members through December 2016.

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