Three candidates vying for Mineola School Board

Posted 10/15/20

Three candidates are running for two seats on the Mineola School Board.

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Three candidates vying for Mineola School Board


Three candidates are running for two seats on the Mineola School Board.

A fourth candidate, Silvia Reyes, will appear on the ballot but announced Monday that she is withdrawing.

The election for a three-year term is Tuesday, Nov. 3, and early voting is underway through Oct. 30.

This election was postponed from May after Gov. Greg Abbott allowed local entities to reschedule as part of the COVID-19 response.

John Abbott

John Abbott, 67, has served three terms on the Mineola school board and is the current president of the board.

He has been in education for 46 years and got his first teaching job at Mineola ISD in 1974.

After five years he went to Alba-Golden ISD where he served as a counselor, curriculum director and secondary principal.

He returned to MISD in 1987 as assistant superintendent and became the superintendent in 1997, serving for five years.

He was a counseling supervisor in the Dallas school district for three years and joined the regional education service center in Kilgore, where he retired for the first time in 2007 as director of alternative certification.

He joined the Chrisman private school in Longview as director for three years, and in 2010 went to work for Texas College in Tyler as head of the department of education and retired again in 2014.

Then he received a call from Grand Saline to come help out “temporarily,” an assignment that has now lasted six years.

During that time he has been the middle school counselor, served a year as principal and is the elementary school counselor.

His wife, Janell, is also a long-time educatior, retiring after 43 years.

Abbott is a past member and president of the Mineola Kiwanis Club and has served on the Caring and Sharing board and the Wood County Child Welfare Board.

The Abbotts are members of the First United Methodist Church in Mineola where he has served on the church council and several church committees.

Jeff Hurley

Jeff Hurley is a Wood County native, husband and a father of four former Yellowjackets. He graduated from Quitman High School in 1980 and studied at Tyler Junior College and East Texas State University before entering the workforce. He is a 2017 graduate of Southwest CUNA management school, a three-year extensive executive program offered through the Credit Union National Association and the Neely School of business at Texas Christian University. The last 23 years have been spent in Mineola. He is the assistant vice president, East Texas area of My Credit Union where he has served for almost 14 years.

Jeff has been active in the community and the schools as well. As a band dad and booster member he has served many boats of nachos and fries at the concession stand as well as a mover of props and drum major stands and a supporter of the Sound of the Swarm from the “not so great days” to two state championships. He has served on the  non-profit board of governors for the Lake Country Playhouse/Historic Select Theater and has been board president for the last several years. Jeff has been an active member of First United Methodist Church in Mineola, having served on several boards in the last 23 years. He was head of the finance committee during the planning and execution of the Ministries Center and serves as a sound technician. He has been a storyteller at Naturefest at the Mineola Nature Preserve and a caller of weenie dog races at Iron Horse. Jeff is also a “very close friend” of Santa for Santa’s Little Red House, formerly at Lake Brenda and now part of the Historical Mineola Museum.

Rodney Watkins

Rodney Watkins, 59, is a shareholder in Watkins Insurance and the Insurance Agents Alliance of Texas and is president of the Alliance.

He is chairman of the board of UT Health Hospital Quitman. He was Mineola Man of the Year in 2001 and served as president of the Mineola Youth Foundation in 2002-03, president of Optimist Club in 1996-97, Leadership Mineola president in 1996-97, served on Leadership Lake Country 2001-02, Wood County Chamber of Commerce 1999-2009, president of Mineola Advocates for Safe Schools 1999-2006, member of the Wood County Industrial Foundation 2003-04 and member of the Mineola Main Street Board 2011-15.  

He served as Mineola city councilman from 2001-02 and mayor from 2015-17. He previously served on the school board from 2010-15.

He is a 1980 graduate of Mineola High School and next year will have six grandchildren attending Mineola schools.

His spouse is Joyce Watkins, who recently retired from the Mineola Police Dept.