Pam Rivera

Rivera

In a race with two attractive challengers to Waco Independent School District incumbent trustee Colbert Murphy, we give the edge in the election to represent East Waco to local pastor Pamela Rivera based on her keen understanding of the special needs of more effective parenting in her district.

True, no one is surprised parenting is a problem in East Waco. Community leaders have been saying so for a while. But Rivera, 59, outlines ways in which it particularly impacts African-American families and offers broad ideas of how the problem might be addressed.

We’re also encouraged by her belief community churches can be fiercely involved in turning neighborhood schools around — she’s pastor of St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church — and her understanding of how educational failures can derail employment prospects and neighborhood economic revitalization.

Opponent Stephanie Korteweg struck us as a vibrant prospect based on 12 years of teaching in Waco Independent School District and overseeing a mentoring program at Antioch Community Church. But her answers came off as surprisingly pat for one in the trenches. Her remarks, for instance, largely ignored the problem of parenting that so many other teachers have cited. Nuanced observations and intricate solutions should have been bubbling forth from this candidate.

Not that Rivera didn’t stumble, failing to know about a controversial program at a school that partners with St. Luke AME Church. However, both of these candidates are intelligent, kinetic and experienced and rate attention for Place 2.

We have little by which to judge incumbent Colbert Murphy, who missed two appointments with the Trib editorial board. He is currently running for his first full term on the Waco school board.