Mail ballots going out as Election 2022 heads to climax - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Mail ballots going out as Election 2022 heads to climax

October 9th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Mail ballots going out as Election 2022 heads to climax

By Ken Sain and Paul Maryniak
News Staff

Mail ballots for the Nov. 8 General Election will be hitting Chandler and Sun Lakes mailboxes later this week and they promise to take voters more than a few minutes to complete them.

While races for state offices, Congressional seats and an Arizona seat in the U.S. Senate have been garnering most of the attention, Chandler residents also have a few races to decide that are of more local interest – namely two seats on the five-person Chandler Unified School District Governing Board and the two state House seats and the state Senate seat for Legislative District 13, which includes south Chandler, Sun Lakes and part of Gilbert.

There also are 10 propositions on the ballot to weight that cover a wide variety of issues, including the creation of a Lieutenant governor position and a .01% sales tax to support fire districts.

Chandler Unified race

The election in Chandler Unified involves many issues as the district grapples with a mental health crisis, concerns about school safety, falling test scores in the wake of the pandemic’s disruption, teacher and staff support shortages and, with the failure of a challenge to the universal school voucher program, intensified competition from private schools.

Also hanging over the Chandler Unified race is a push for more parental control over education.

Two of the five candidates –Charlotte Golla and Kurt Rohrs – are endorsed by the Purple for Parents social group that started in Arizona in 2018 in reaction to the Red for Ed movement. The other three candidates are Marilou Estes, Patti Serrano and incumbent Lara Bruner.

Purple for Parents fought against mask mandates and is advocating for more parental rights in schools. They have fought against Critical Race Theory, even though it has never been taught in CUSD schools.

“One thing I’ve noticed over the last several years, there’s nobody on the board that really represents the rights of parents and the concerns of parents,” Rohrs said at a Sept. 13 candidate forum sponsored by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of political agendas are being driven through the education system that parents in particular are not real happy with.”

Estes, Serrano and Bruner focused on issues such as school safety and increased state funding.

They also have stood on the opposite side of Golla and Rohrs over the Aggregate Spending Limit, the 1982 voter-approved mandate that caps school district sending even if it has the money to pay for planned expenditures.

Estes, Serrano and Bruner said the Legislature should eliminate the limit while Golla and Rohrs both said they consider it a taxpayer protection law. Instead of getting rid of it, they would push for updating the formula so the cuts would not be so steep.

Save Our Schools, a group that grew out of the Red for Ed movement, endorsed Estes and Serrano. The Chandler Chamber of Commerce endorsed Bruner and Golla.

On school safety, Serrano took a hard position at the Sept. 13 forum.

Here is a little on the background of all five candidates:

Lara Bruner: She has more than 30 years of teaching experience. Most of the years have been working with special needs students. She has served on the Arizona Special Education Advisory Panel. Bruner teaches psychology and directed the Arizona Teaching of Psychology Conference.

Charlotte Golla: She left the corporate world to raise her family. She’s been volunteering with schools and has become a key fundraiser. She said that with four children attending CUSD schools and her youngest now in school she has the time to serve her community.

Marilou Estes: She started her professional life working a corporate job, but returned to school to get a master’s degree in her 30s. She then taught at CUSD schools for 21 years.

Kurt Rohrs: He worked in the corporate world and sent his children to CUSD schools. Rohrs has worked on a number of CUSD and Chandler Chamber committees and as a substitute teacher at CUSD schools.

Patti Serrano: She would be the first member of the Latino community elected to the Board if she wins a seat. The Hamilton High graduate earned a degree from Arizona State University in microbiology and works in academic research. Her son has been attending CUSD schools for nine years.

Legislative District 13

The race for the Senate seat in LD13 pits Republican incumbent Sen. J.D. Mesnard, a veteran legislator, against Democrat Cynthia Hans, a retired teacher and principal.

In the race for the two LD 13 House seats, incumbent Democratic Rep. and teacher Jennifer Pawlik is running against Republicans Liz Harris, a Chandler Realtor, and Julie Willoughby, an HOA president.

How much abortion will impact the races remains to be seen, though Pawlik and Haas advocate for a woman’s right to abortion, calling reproductive healthcare a private matter for women that should be free from government interference.

Hans, a mother of three children and a grandmother to two and an Arizona resident for 29 years, has said, “I have boots-on-the-ground experience in the two most pressing arenas: education and elections. Public schools need adequate funding and charter schools should have the same transparency accountability as public schools”

She said that after retiring from education, she became a volunteer worker for the Maricopa County Recorder in 2017 and has been active with the public-education advocacy group Save Our Schools and the League of Women Voters.

She also champions water conservation and a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

Mesnard is seeking his third term in the Senate after eight years representing south Chandler and Sun Lakes in the state House, including as House Speaker in his last term. Prior to that, he was a policy advisor to the state Senate.

He is also an Arizona State University alumnus who earned his bachelor’s degree in music and two master’s degrees in public administration and business.

A small business owner, investor and consultant and political science teacher at Mesa Community College, Mesnard also helped to found Voices of the World, a nonprofit Christian charity.

Married to a registered nurse and the father of two girls, Mesnard boasts, “I’ve written some of Arizona’s most consequential laws,” such as health coverage for Arizonans with pre­existing conditions, raising teacher pay by 20%, pushing compromise legislation that increased local control over short-term rentals while protecting owners’ property rights and advocating for major changes in the state income tax that have given Arizona the lowest flat-tax rate among those states that have a flat tax.

Mesnard also has won the endorsement of both the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and the Chandler Chamber of Commerce – something neither of his House running mates fail to get. Instead, both organizations endorsed Pawlik, who is seeking her third term in the House.

Since Chandler restaurateur Jeff Weninger is no longer in the Legislature after deciding to seek the GOP nomination for state Treasurer – which he lost to incumbent Republican Kimberly Yee – the LD 13 delegation will have at least one new face.

Pawlik has touted her work on legislation affecting all levels of education, from K-12 to university funding to adult education and workforce development. She also has stressed the need for more effort to secure Arizona’s water supply for future generations.

Willoughby, an emergency room trauma nurse and married mother of two, who says, “With a staunch commitment to my faith, my family and community I can make a positive impact on the future.” She said her work as a nurse has demonstrated her ability to stay calm under pressure and creatively attack problems.

Both Harris, a married mother of three, and Willoughby tout their support for school choice, more parental control in education, gun rights, more border enforcement and support for local police.