Update: McAllen ISD incumbents victorious; Place 4 race split by 11 votes

Beginning from top-left, McAllen ISD candidates Marco Suarez, Juan Cano, Conrado "Ito" Alvarado and Lynse Guerra are seen; from center-left, Tony Forina, Gina Karam-Millin, Daniel Vela and Don Delaney are shown. City of McAllen hopefuls seen, from bottom-left, are Joe Califa, Tania Ramirez, John Ingram, Victor "Seby" Haddad and Mark Murray.

Incumbents for Places 1, 2, 4 and 5 maintained their positions on the McAllen school board Saturday night, according to unofficial election results.

Place 4 was closely contested, with incumbent Tony Forina winning by only 11 votes. In contrast, Place 5 incumbent Daniel Vela won by a rather large margin.

Challenger for Place 4, Gina Karam Millin was a strong candidate, Forina said. He said he knew the race was going to be close and felt “ecstatic” after winning the race by a narrow gap.

“We always said it would be in God’s hands and we got His favor today,” he said.

Forina said he wants to keep moving the district on the right path and will begin his second term after the election.

“We’ve run through the election process, and now it’s time to get back to work…. And keep moving McAllen in the right direction,” Forina said.

Karam Millin said she hopes people continue addressing issues the district faces, such as the declining enrollment and funding. She said “awareness” on these problems is something voters and citizens can address and work toward solutions. She said she expected the race to be close, win or lose, as she faced an incumbent.

The community needs unity in addressing the problems within the district, she said.

“There’s so much work to do, that the whole community really needs to come together and get to work,” Karam Millin said.

An attorney, Karam Millin said she will continue to volunteer to serve students. As a member on the board of directors of the McAllen Education Foundation, she has served the district in the organization’s goal to be a “collaborative effort between corporate, community and educational entities.”

“I’ve always been involved in our schools and I will continue to be involved in our schools,” Karam Millin said.

Place 2 Incumbent Conrado “Ito” Alvarado was not available to comment on Election Day.

“I wish Mr. Alvarado the best of luck in his continued services (as a) school board trustee.” challenger Lynse Guerra said after hearing the early voting results.

Place 1 incumbent Marco Suarez and challenger Juan “Johnny” Cano were not available by press time. Suarez will serve a second four-year term as a trustee.

Delaney did not raise or spend any money from Feb. 1 to April 30. He also did not attend a debate hosted by The Monitor or other debates hosted by other entities. In contrast, Vela continued to raise funds and spent on campaign materials, according to a campaign finance report due the eighth day before Election Day.

With early voting being a landslide, Vela said he was “grateful” and “humbled” by the support he received during the race.

“McAllen is lucky that we had the quality candidates come out and run,” Vela said.

Vela said he congratulates all the candidates running in the election, and it “takes guts to do that.” He has served on the school board since 2007, and will enter his fourth term.

Student enrollment, budget and payment for district employees became issues for candidates during various debates.