Want to serve students? Here’s how to be a write-in school board candidate - AZEdNews
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Want to serve students? Here’s how to be a write-in school board candidate

Irene Jones And Robert Candelaria

If you’d like to shape the future and serve students in your school district, it’s time to consider becoming a write-in candidate for your district’s school governing board, because the Aug. 19 deadline to do so is just weeks away.

Some school board seats remain open or uncontested just three months before the November general election.

“In Pinal County, we have 63 board openings, 14 uncontested seats, and 24 write-in candidates, said Jill Broussard, Pinal County Superintendent of Schools.

“This is the first time in my eight years in office that we have had write-in candidates to my knowledge,” Broussard said. “I think that this is likely due to the fact that candidates had a difficult time collecting signatures due to the coronavirus outbreak.”

Broussard said she often appoints a few candidates after the election.  

“I also wondered if the difficult decisions associated with school openings and closures due to the pandemic had anything to do with a decreased number of candidates for school board,” Broussard said. “Now that we have received so many write-in candidates, I don’t think that is the case. I think it was due to the signature issue.”

“I’m glad to see so many community members stepping up to provide guidance for our schools during this unprecedented time,” Broussard said.

In Maricopa County, there are 10 school governing board member seats without candidates to fill them, said Shane Wikfors, director of government and public relations for the Office of the Maricopa County School Superintendent.

“Almost all of the Phoenix metro districts have competitive races or the minimum number of candidates required to fill the seats,” Wikfors said. “We anticipate that some of the districts with vacant seats will have individuals file as write-in candidates for those seats.”

Coconino County faces a similar situation with 11 open seats, said Kandi Slack, administrative specialist for the Coconino County Superintendent of Schools and coordinator of the education elections, the county spelling bee and teacher of the year awards.

Arizona residents can see which school district governing boards have contests, non-contests and vacancies on their county school superintendent’s website.

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To be eligible to run for a school governing board seat, a person must be registered to vote in the State of Arizona and be a resident of the school district for at least one year immediately preceding the day of the election.

Also, a school governing board member cannot be a school district employee, the spouse of a school district employee or a person who provides certified or classified services to the school district as an employee of a third-party contractor, according to Arizona Revised Statutes 16-312 and 16-410.

A write-in candidate should visit the website of their county schools superintendent, fill out a write-in candidate nomination form they can find there and file it with their county schools superintendent’s office no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.

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Coconino County’s Slack noted that there were no write-in candidates for school governing board seats this year, people will be appointed to vacant seats, and that they more often appoint candidates than have write-in candidates.

“We will have elections November 3, 2020 for Flagstaff USD #1 and Williams USD #2 only. All other districts/candidates listed will be appointed, but deemed elected,” Slack said. “The open seats that we did not have candidates for will be filled by appointments with interested candidates.”

To make those appointments, Coconino County will sent out “a press release inviting the public to inquire and apply for governing board vacant seats for the following districts (these seats will be appointed as of 1/1/2021 and the term will be through the next election-2022): Fredonia Moccasin USD #6 (3 seats), Maine Consolidated USD #10 (3 seats), Tuba City #15 (1 seat), C.A.V.I.A.T.: Flagstaff (1 seat), Fredonia (1 seat), Page (1 seat) and N.A.T.I.V.E. (1 seat),” Slack said.

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The write-in candidate nomination form is straightforward and simple to fill out.

For example, the Maricopa County School Governing Board write-in candidate nomination paper asks a candidate to name the office sought, the political division or district and if for a 2-year term the expiration date, along with the years the candidate has been a citizen of the United States, years the candidate has been a citizen of Arizona, the candidates age and date of birth, the number of years the candidate has resided in the county and the school district before the election and they’re asked to provide their residence address, mailing address, first, middle and last name and sign and date the form.

County school elections information:
Apache County
Coconino County
Cochise County
Gila County
Graham County
Greenlee County /
La Paz County
Maricopa County
Mohave County
Navajo County
Pima County
Pinal County
Santa Cruz County
Yavapai County
Yuma County

Districts where there are three candidates running for three seats will have their election cancelled and the Board of Supervisors will appoint those individuals to those seats, Wikfors said.

Shortly after the write-in candidate deadline, the Office of Maricopa County School Superintendent will recommend to the Board of Supervisors that non-competitive races or races with a vacancy, be cancelled, Wikfors said.

“Districts where a seat will become vacant after the election will be declared vacant by the Board of Supervisors and our office will then be required to fill the vacancy,” Wikfors said.

Then the county school superintendent’s office will fill the seat through an appointment process.

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