WEEK 7: Hot Button Issues

Toby C -

Happy April, everyone!

I had the opportunity this week to speak to Jenn N. over Zoom, who works at the county level and holds the position of Education Elections Coordinator. Beyond all special elections like overrides and bonds, we had an in-depth discussion about governing board elections. She shared with me what typical paperwork looks like, common mistakes made on it, and the timeline that she advises candidates to follow.

The process officially begins when you file a statement of interest with the county. In fact, no signatures you collect before that point are valid. After you do, you have roughly a one month period to collect those required signatures. This stood out to me, because this seems like a time frame that disadvantages first time office seekers – being able to collect signatures to test the waters before you file a statement of interest seems like it unfairly favors incumbents. What could they be protecting by nulling those signatures? It’s a process that’s heavily scrutinized  – we also talked about how thoroughly petition signatures are combed through once challenged, especially to verify addresses.

 

One of several election forms

 

Aside from the process, Jenn shared with me the worrying trends towards the politicization of these school elections in recent years. Having been in her position since 2016, she said that she’s witnessed a trend towards polarizing platforms in what is supposed to be a nonpartisan election . When I asked her what she believes the solution forward is, she answered that a more informed voter base would move us in the right direction.

 

My interview with Jenn N.

 

My other main activity for this week was attending the 4/3 County Board of Supervisors meeting. Although I was there for a relatively non-partisan anti-drug proclamation, the agenda items before us were a little more heated. The first proclamation to hear public testimony was regarding declaring Yavapai County a non-sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. Despite being a popular proclamation, one of the arguments I heard several times was that the proclamation “had no teeth,” and was not addressing the core of the issue. Generally speaking about the government, people are frustrated with lack of movement, but perhaps they overestimate the scope of the county and local governments to tackle an issue as large as border security. With both sides accusing the other of bigotry, and even public calls to take up arms, it was a tense hearing, with the proclamation ultimately passing. After that, I gave my 30 second speech for MATFORCE’s separate proclamation, and was glad to be out of there.

Yavapai Board of Supervisors meeting.

 

Next week, I’ll be speaking to Stan G., who has been an active political figure in the local community, and his experience with sitting on a school board as well as his involvement in the mayoral recall process. One of the primary setbacks I’ve encountered is just coordinating with these elected officials. They’re always busy, but especially at this time of the year when elections are starting to ramp up, and legislative sessions are wrapping up, they’re particularly occupied. I’ll keep y’all updated; until next week!

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