Incumbent, 4 write-ins compete for 2 DUSD Governing Board seats

[file photo courtesy of Dysart Unified School District]

By Jennifer Jimenez, Independent Newsmedia

On the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election, the Dysart Unified School District has two seats available on the Dysart Governing Board.

Current governing board member Dr. Spencer Bailey decided not to run again this year. DUSD Director of Communications Zachary Fountain said there are a lot of different dynamics to this year’s election.

Incumbent DUSD Governing Board President Traci Sawyer-Sinkbeil is seeking reelection for a four-year term and is the only name to appear on the ballot.

Interested candidates had a filing deadline of Aug. 8. While campaign several packets were pulled, only one was returned, which was Ms. Sawyer-Sinkbeil’s.

Four other certified write-in candidates are also eligible. A notice of certified write-in candidates will be posted at polling places, which was explained to each write-in candidate.

Write-in candidates were required to submit a nomination paper, affidavit of qualifications and a campaign finance statement. Dawn M. Densmore, Nikki M. Frye, Liz Castro and Jo Grant have all been certified.

However, their names will not appear on the ballot. Only Ms. Sawyer-Sinkbeil’s name will be listed. Therefore, anyone wishing to vote for any of the other four candidates, must physically write in the name or names in the designated area.

Up to two votes can be cast for this race. It was the responsibility of the write-in candidates to provide the information to voters, including those who filed by mail ballot.

The candidate’s names do not have to be spelled correctly for the vote to count and the winner is declared based on the majority.

If no votes were cast or written in, the open seat would be considered vacant and Maricopa County School Superintendent Steve Watson would make an appointment to fill the vacancy pursuant to state law.

Ms. Sawyer-Sinkbeil said her decision to run again takes her back to where the Dysart District was before the great strides were made.

“I would like to continue to be a part of that forward motion Dysart has,” Ms. Sawyer-Sinkbeil said. “Ten years ago, this was an interesting district and over the past 8 to 9 years people are realizing the great things happening with our kids and education with personalized learning … I would just like to be a part of the district that continues to move forward.”

Ms. Sawyer-Sinkbeil said while she was shocked to hear no one else filed, she said it’s good for the community to see there is more than one person who is interested in being a member of the board.

“The four ladies running as write-in candidates each bring a different perspective,” Ms. Sawyer-Sinkbeil explained. “A former teacher, staff member, former governing board member and a parent, which bring completely different viewpoints.”

She said her experience on the governing board has been an adventure and she wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Ms. Grant brings experience from serving as a school board member in Tucson and involvement in the state legislature. Her interest in running was sparked due to her three grandchildren attending Dysart schools. She said it’s been hard to be a write-in candidate and getting her name out to voters, she said.

“You have to explain to them if they want to vote for you they have to physically write in my name because they are not going to see my name on the ballot,” Ms. Grant explained.

Ms. Grant said she has no personal agenda, supports the interests of the district and believes the stakeholders are the students and all educators. She said the district needs to work to attract qualified teachers and retain them, giving pay raises, respect and a safe and healthy work environment, as well as providing them with resources to do their job.

“We are competing against charter schools and they don’t play by the same rules,” Ms. Grant said.

Ms. Castro said she chose to qualify as a write-in candidate to give back to her community. Her two kids currently attend DUSD schools and she said she represents many working parents who want the best programs for their kids.

“I want effective and enthusiastic teachers who are passionate about learning and their employment with the district,” Ms. Castro explained.

Ms. Castro said as a Hispanic she represents many families who migrated and had to learn a new language in a public-school setting, saying DUSD has a diverse school district with a Hispanic population of 39 percent. She said she can see through the eyes of these families and encourage them to participate and be a contributing voice of the community.

Ms. Frye did not respond to a request to comment for this article as of press time.

Candidate statements can be viewed at

The Oct. 9 candidate forum can be viewed by logging on to DUSD Facebook page:  search Governing Board candidate Forum under videos.

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