Chambers join forces to get out the vote

Representatives from three chamber of commerces on Monday hosted the first of three community voter registration and education meetings at the Headlee-West Odessa Boys and Girls Club.

The main item on the Nov. 7 ballot is the $436 million bond from Ector County ISD that will go for a variety of projects such as a new Career and Technical Education Center in Southern Ector County, maintenance and a new middle school in far West Odessa.

A couple of members of the political action committee, Odessans for a Bright Future, which advocates for the bond, attended, but very few community members.

The three proposition bond won’t affect the newly approved tax rate of $1.014 total tax rate. This is a decrease from the total rate of $1.17792.

The decrease is because of tax compression passed by the legislature.

Voters can vote for one or all of the propositions.

Election Day is Nov. 7. The deadline to register is Oct. 10. Early voting runs from Oct. 23-Nov. 3.

ECISD Board member Wayne Woodall speaks at a community voter registration and education meeting Monday at the Headlee-West Odessa Boys and Girls Club. (Ruth Campbell|Odessa American)

Ector County ISD District 3 trustee Wayne Woodall was on hand for the meeting. He could not advocate for the bond; only provide factual answers to questions.

Pertaining to the location of the new middle school, Woodall said there are some locations coming down the pike.

Woodall said the location of the middle school will be given at the Oct. 10 school board meeting.

Maintenance needs were decided by experts and people can see that on the ECISD website under the bond 2023 tab.

The safety and security included in the bond involves items such as communications equipment, the PA system, a new camera system and lighting like at Ratliff Stadium.

The CTE facility will centralize everything into one building. It will also be used by Odessa College at night and on weekends.

Odessa Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Renee Earls said CTE is very important because there are so many companies who need employees.

She noted that the Frost Technical building is bursting at the seams with students.

“This will allow the students to have a top-notch faculty and just really have a learning environment that they deserve,” Earls said.

Woodall said it will house about 400 students full time and 1,500 to 2,500 throughout the day.

Welding teacher Nat Armendariz was on the bond committee and is now part of Odessans for a Bright Future said it was determined that there were $1.6 billion in needs in ECISD.

“What we did is we tried to break everything down based on all the information that we had about the needs throughout the district,” Armendariz said.

They came to a consensus that they would try to fix what was needed most.

Chris Walker, president and CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce said they are remaining neutral, but they wanted to get involved and give everybody a chance to voice their opinion.

Walker said he hears people say they weren’t given a chance to say what they think.

“That’s what we’re trying to eliminate this time. We want you to be able to come out. We can’t tell you one way or the other. We have to stay neutral, but we want you to at least go to the polls and voice your opinion that way our numbers are up. We would love for everybody to be a little more concerned about what goes on in our community,” Walker said.

“I know a lot of people don’t have kids in the system and they pretty much don’t care. I’ve heard from both sides that have no kids in school so it doesn’t matter. Yes it does. …,” he added.

Eventually someone in your family will be affected. He encouraged people to get others involved, listen, ask questions and come to chamber office to ask questions before the election.

Tina Leal, representing the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce , said they want to make sure they provide all the information and that everybody in the community is educated about what’s going on.

Leal thanked everyone for the information and said she would pass it along.

The propositions for the ECISD bond are:

  • Proposition A: a new career and technical education center in South Odessa; a new middle school in far West Odessa; property maintenance at every campus; complete renovation of the Permian High School auditorium and JROTC facility; new bus repair facility; upgrades for the Ag Farm in West Odessa; LED lighting at Permian and Odessa High School baseball stadiums; a new Transition Learning Center for special needs students; safety and security needs.
  • Proposition B: Upgrades at the 45-year-old Ratliff Stadium complex.
  • Proposition C: Investment in athletics including an indoor practice facility at Odessa High School and New turf at Permian High School.

A complete list can be found at

Woodall said the transition learning facility teaches special education students to go into the workforce. It serves them up to age 22.

Earls said regardless of where you stand on the issues, it is important to register to vote.

There was someone on hand to help those who were not registered.

You need an ID, updated name and address and phone number. You fill out the information and it will be turned in for you. A card will be sent to you and then you will be registered to vote in Ector County, Earls said.

When you go to the polls, there are people who can walk you through the voting process.

“I often hear people say, well my vote doesn’t matter. It absolutely matters. Every vote matters and when we don’t have very many people going to the polls, that is not a representation of this community or any community,” Earls said.

“This is not just a problem in Odessa and Ector County. This is all over the state and all over the country,” she added. “We have just, I think taken for granted, the opportunity to vote and that we have that incredible power here. That’s why our chambers wanted to come together and really focus on the importance of being registered and going to the polls.”

Two more meetings are scheduled for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Woodson Boys & Girls Club, 1037 W. Murphy St., and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Wilkerson Boys & Girls Club, 800 E. 13th St.

The gatherings are aimed at discussing the upcoming Ector County ISD bond, hearing information on the state constitutional amendments and encouraging people to register and turn out to vote.