School board votes on controversial library name

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It appears APS is finally moving toward taking a disgraced and convicted politician’s name off one of its school libraries.

It’s been more than a year since people openly called for a name change at the Manny M. Aragon Library at Lowell Elementary School.

At a committee meeting Wednesday night, most school board members agreed Manny Aragon’s name shouldn’t be on the library any longer.

Manny M. Aragon Library at Lowell Elementary School in southeast Albuquerque got its name after the now-former senator secured state dollars to build it.

But, four years later, Aragon was convicted of pocketing more than $600,000 during the construction of Albuquerque’s Metro Courthouse.

“This is a black eye in our neighborhood,” said Isabel Cabrera. “As a taxpayer and a resident, he betrayed the public trust.”

More than a year after hearing complaints from neighbors, Albuquerque’s school board voted 4 to 2 at a committee meeting to remove Aragon’s name from the library.

“I think this was a tough decision with regard to balancing that right is right, and it was inappropriate for the senator’s name to still be on that library while recognizing he did a lot for the community, a lot for the state,” said school board President Marty Esquivel.

Board members Don Duran and Analee Maestas voted against the name removal, saying there wasn’t enough public input.

“I want to hear from the community. I want to hear what they have to say in regards to this,” said school board member Analee Maestes.

Board members say the Lowell Elementary School principal says she’s heard from parents who want to keep Aragon’s name on the library.

“He did commit a crime. He did his time. He was a great contributor to the community and to that school and there’s people that have strong support for acknowledging that,” Maestes said.

As a compromise, the principal proposed putting a plaque up to commemorate Aragon for his work – something that wouldn’t require the school board’s approval.

The school board’s 4 to 2 vote is not final because it was just a committee meeting. They’ll take a full vote a week from Wednesday when the seventh board member is there.

Aragon, who spent four and a half years in federal prison, is serving what’s left of his sentence at his South Valley home.

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