Canceling the Nov. 3 elections for various school and special taxing districts where the number of candidates equals or is fewer than the number of positions --- including the J.O. Combs Unified School District, Superstition Fire and Medical District and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District --- and appointing all was approved recently by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.
The board voted 4-0 on Sept. 9 to approve a resolution, with Supervisor Stephen Q. Miller, District 3, recusing himself due to a potential conflict of interest. Supervisor Miller was the sole candidate for a six-year term for the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, which operates the Central Arizona Project, a 336-mile system that brings Colorado River water to central and southern Arizona.
State law allows the supervisors to cancel certain elections for school and special taxing districts, Pinal County Elections Director Michele Forney said to the board of supervisors.
“Under Arizona Revised Statutes Section 16-410 (A), which permits the board to cancel elections where the number of candidates equals the number of open positions or there’s fewer numbers of candidates,” she said. “This is a cost savings so the school districts and special taxing districts to allow them not to have the elections since they are uncontested.”
The decision by the supervisors allows all candidates vying for four available positions for J.O. Combs USD No. 44 Governing Board to be appointed.
“The J.O. Combs USD No. 44 is fortunate to currently have an outstanding Governing Board, as well as a highly qualified, dedicated and effective superintendent and leadership team,” incumbent Bob D’Elena, appointed to a four-year term, said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this community as a Governing Board member. I would like to continue to work with them as together we build a school district of which we can all be proud.”
Incumbent Shelly Hargis, also appointed to a four-year term, recalled how she helped create a vision for the district.
“Since I have been on the Governing Board, I have had the privilege of working with our administration, staff and community to create a vision for our district. This vision of creating a community of empowered learners for the 21st century continues to shine through the creation of maximum academic and social growth for all students,” she said. “We utilize research-based practices and strategies delivered by highly competent employees who are committed to excellence in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust,” Ms. Hargis said.
“It has been an honor to serve with my fellow board members who are dedicated to our students and continue to focus on what is best for kids. I am privileged to be able to continue to serve on the Governing Board. It will be my mission to overcome recent challenges within our community to come together and continue to support our students,” she said.
Growth and change are in the J.O. Combs Unified School District’s future, incumbent Chad McLeod, appointed to a four-year term, said.
“I know that the last several months have posed several new challenges for our community, particularly as it relates to education. However I am optimistic and hopeful that despite these challenges, we will continue to build and nurture strong relationships that ultimately put our children first,” he said. “I feel honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve this district and community during these times of growth and change, and regardless of what’s to come, will remain committed to fulfilling the District’s vision of providing the best education for each child every day.”
The action by the supervisors also allows all candidates vying for three available positions on the Superstition Fire and Medical District, which includes Apache Junction and Gold Canyon, to be elected to four-year terms.
“Two things that come to mind. The first is that with the fire board there were three open seats and only three people on the ballot. In years past when there is no run-off for a vote, the election process is pulled from the ballot, I do believe,” SFMD board incumbent Jason Moeller said. “This saves the fire (district) from having to spend taxpayers’ money on an election. This is roughly $25,000-$30,000 in savings to taxpayers.”
Mr. Moeller would have preferred that an election was held, he said Sept. 5.
“I feel strongly that the elections should still take place. The community has a right and responsibility to vote in the upcoming election to place who they see fit in the open positions that are open and have multiple people vying for those open seats,” he said. “I do hope that the board of directors does not cancel the upcoming elections as this hinders on the community’s ability to elect the best person they see fit to fill those vacant spots.”
The 42 school and special taxing districts with canceled Nov. 3 elections are: