The 52-year-old Ruiz was vice president of the Three Rivers school board. He had been a board member for almost two decades. He served as vice president of the board for several years, and his three-year term as a school board member was set to expire in May 2015.
In discussing the vacant seat, the board had three options under the law – to appoint someone to it for the remainder of the existing term; to call for a November election to fill this seat (with the term of the winner expiring in May, and a new election then having to be held at that time for that seat); or to leave the seat vacant until the regular election in May.
The vacancy option exists because there is less than a year left on the term of Ruiz’s seat, according to a statement issued by the district.
“The board unanimously chose to exercise the third option and leave the seat vacant until May 2015, at which time an election will be held to fill the vacancy,” Three Rivers ISD Superintendent Kenneth Rohrbach announced in an email. “The board’s rationale for doing this was to honor Gilbert and his dedication to this district and community. Ruiz’s family will be presented a token of appreciation at a future board meeting for his years of selfless service on the board.”
The trustees discussed this matter at length during their July 29 monthly meeting. Ruiz served on the board for more than 14 years, and he set a fantastic example of what a public servant should be, Rohrbach said.
“He saw his role as a trustee as being one to support the students and teachers of the district in any way possible,” Rohrbach said.
During a recent telephone interview, Ruiz’s wife, Patty, said her husband took great pride in serving on the school board and helping students.
“He was a very outgoing, friendly guy,” Patty Ruiz said. “He did everything he could to help people with fundraisers. And he was always ready to help them cook.”
She said anyone who wishes to express condolences to the Ruiz family is encouraged through her email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.