In this campaign season for the Scottsdale Unified School District’s governing board there have been numerous forums and questionnaires for all candidates to participate in and/or complete.
These are means of providing the general public with information about a candidate’s background, platform, and positions on important issues facing the district.
Typically these provide an opportunity for voters to understand candidates’ positions more deeply, beyond what is said on their website or in a stump speech.
(Note: This list does not include the Democratic or Republican clubs and Legislative Districts, which only invite their respective candidates to their events).
I was actually censured by a Republican legislative district (not even the one I live in!) because I had the audacity to participate in the Secular AZ forum, a group this LD group disagrees with. Apparently you can’t even talk with someone who might have a different perspective than you do or you’ll be bullied by LD4. This is what we’ve come to now.
Obviously forums are more challenging for candidates than questionnaires, as you don’t know the questions in advance and you have to think on your feet and respond in real-time.
At a minimum, questionnaires provide the ability to go back and modify your wording after an initial writing, so they’re easier than forums. In worst cases, one can wait and see what others write before answering a questionnaire, or have someone else write the answers for you. So forums clearly involve more pressure.
As someone wrote on Facebook: “If you can’t take the pressure of a forum, how are you going to take the pressure of being on the board?”
Frankly, it’s mind-boggling to me that anyone running for a seat on the governing board of a school district would not participate in forums with teachers and parents.
I strongly believe education should be a non-partisan issue. If elected, a governing board member must represent everyone. You can’t just associate with people who think like you do.
Therefore I have been willing to meet with everyone — Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. I’ve met with teachers, staff, parents, business leaders and community members. I’ve met with stakeholders in what might be considered more “contentious” situations. But I showed up. I am the only candidate in this race who has participated in every available forum and completed every available questionnaire.
Oftentimes I find that, if both sides are genuinely open-minded and respectful, sometimes they might have more in common than not. My philosophy is this: “We may not agree on everything, but I have enough respect for you, and enough confidence in my own convictions, to meet with you and to seek to work together.”
I will continue to meet with representatives of all stakeholder groups and all political parties. My hope is that all members of our community can work together to see every young person maximize their potential and graduate with the academic and life skills needed to succeed. We certainly have a lot of work to do. And I will show up.