Thursday, May 22, 2014

Time to Start Paying Attention to the TUSD School Board Election

Posted By on Thu, May 22, 2014 at 11:00 AM

With the contentious Sunnyside Unified School District governing board recall election behind us, the next school board election to pay attention to is Tucson Unified School District. If it's anything like the TUSD 2012 election, voters will have another cast of characters to choose from (See "The District's Dozen," Sept. 20, 2012). Ten potential candidates filed campaign financial statements with the Pima County Recorder's office in order to begin collecting signatures to qualify for the Nov. 14, 2014 general election ballot.

In 2012, three incumbents were in the race—Mark Stegeman, Miguel Cuevas and Alexandre Sugiyama. Stegeman was the only incumbent to win his seat back, with then-candidates Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez filling the other vacancies and creating a three-way majority voting block with Adelita Grijalva.

Grijalva, a TUSD board member for more than 10 years, is going for another term. Michael "Burritos are Magical" Hicks is the other incumbent reportedly readying another run. The expectation is that all candidates who've filed campaign financial statements are working on petition signatures. Filing period for those signatures opens July 7 and closes Aug. 6 at 5 p.m.

Those who've filed statements for the two incumbents' seats are: David King, Debe Campos-Fleenor, Rene Bernal, Betts Putnam-Hidalgo, Don Cotton, Jen Darland, Francis Saitta and Miguel Cuevas (yes, Miguel Cuevas).

This is a nonpartisan election, but a majority in the progressive Baja Arizona-sphere are saying they hope Grijalva returns to her seat, with others wondering if voters will ask what's she's accomplished her 10 years in office. Filling Hicks seat is going to be a box-checking challenge for them because many like Betts Putnam-Hidalgo, who ran but lost in 2012; and they also like Jen Darland, a public education advocate affiliated with the Arizona Education Network. Both have children in TUSD schools and both are undeniably public education supporters. Also remarkable about both candidates is their knowledge of the district, with Darland especially knowledgeable about our crazyland state Legislature (See "Ethics 101," May 28, 2009

Other returning candidates who ran in 2012 include Don Cotton and Debe Campos-Fleenor, but The Range is expecting Francis Saitta will be an interesting interview if he makes it on the ballot. Saitta, a Pima Community College instructor who ran for PCC governing board in 2012 (See "The Issue of Admission," Oct. 18, 2012), didn't want to do a sit-down interview and only respond to email questions if given to all candidates:

We explained that the Weekly's policy is not to do email interviews. His response: "An interview, under those circumstances, is inherently unfair, and, as a comparative of candidate positions, uninformative. All candidates should be asked the same question. Otherwise one introduces tendentiousness into the interview process."

Hope you weren't hoping for a boring election.

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