Rohrs, Serrano win board race as Mesnard takes LD13 - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Rohrs, Serrano win board race as Mesnard takes LD13

November 20th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Rohrs, Serrano win board race as Mesnard takes LD13

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

Voters are sending two candidates from opposite sides of the political spectrum to the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board.

Kurt Rohrs and Patti Serrano were elected in the Nov. 8 general election, according to unofficial results, with 24% and 23% of the vote, respectively.

Rohrs was endorsed by the parental rights group, Purple for Parents. Unlike Charlotte Golla, who also earned their endorsement, he took more hard-core positions during the campaign.

Golla placed third with 20%, followed by incumbent Lara Bruner with 19% and Marilou Estes with 14%.

Serrano was backed by liberal activists online who urged voters to cast a single vote on the ballot that allowed up to two votes. She had the endorsement of Arizona List, which describes itself as “a statewide membership network that works to recruit, train, support and elect pro-choice Democratic women running for office in Arizona.”

Serrano also is the first Latina elected to the Chandler board.

“Parents won,” Rohrs said. “School board members who represent the concerns of parents were elected in districts all over the Valley. Those concerns will now be addressed.”

Purple for Parents saw endorsed candidates win one seat on the Higley Unified and Gilbert Public Schools boards and two on Scottsdale’s board.

Serrano was elated with her victory.

“This is a moment of joy,” Serrano said. “We are more than proud to have secured our community seat on our Chandler Unified School Board. This win is a testimony of our community-centered campaign and together, we elected our first Latina school board member in CUSD.”

Both will begin in January to work with the three current members, Jason Olive, Joel Wirth and President Barb Mozdzen. Current board member Lindsay Love decided not to seek reelection. She was among those endorsing Serrano with the single-vote strategy.

Both Serrano and Rohrs voiced their hopes and general plans once they join the board.

“I want to bring about a more pragmatic approach to achieving student success in our schools,” Rohrs said. “In talking to hundreds of residents during the campaign, the general consensus appears to be that there is far too much concentration on social and political ideology and not nearly enough on practical academic learning and job skills training that have real applications in the world.

“Students need to graduate from our schools with tangible skills they can use,” Rohrs said, adding:

“Parents’ concerns will now be heard instead of being largely ignored as they have been in the past. I also believe that teachers really want to get back to the academic teaching of their students instead of being called upon to parent them.”

Serrano said, “I hope to help us better respond to the consistent request from students to hold some more formal and meaningful input and dialogue with the district beyond limited two-minute comments at board meetings.

“I also hope to improve on more accurate translation and transparency of data; better activate responses to data analysis and improve on future data collection (whether it be surveying students, educators, staff or parents; or pulling queries from existing data).”

“I am honored to be a reflection to many of our students, educators, staff, parents and our Latino community that have never had the opportunity to have such a reflection on our board.”

Meanwhile, incumbent Republican state Sen. J.D. Mesnard won another term in Legislative District 13, which includes Sun Lakes and part of Gilbert as well.

Mesnard garnered 51.8% of the vote to 48.2% for Democratic challenger Cynthia Hans. Within a few days of the election, Mesnard was named chairman to the Senate Finance Committee by Senate President Warren Petersen of Gilbert, who had no opposition in his re-election bid.

In the House race incumbent Rep. Jennifer Pawlik, the only Democrat in the race, handily defeated Republicans’ efforts to oust her by capturing 35% of the vote, leaving a dogfight between Republicans Liz Harris and Julie Willoughby for the second seat.

Harris, a Realtor, was leading the race with 32.5% of the vote to Willoughby’s 32.3%, unofficial results showed. It was unclear if that means an automatic recount will be needed after canvassing is finished. Harris got a total 43,651 votes to 43,389 for Willoughby.

In another legislative race with local ties, two Democratic political newcomers thumped the two Chandler Republicans who were hoping to win the House seats in LD12, which represents northern and western Chandler as well as Ahwatukee and a small part of Tempe and Mesa.

Termed-out Chandler Councilman Terry Roe and and Chandler CPA Jim Chaston got only 21% of the vote to the 29% garnered by Ahwatukee residents Patty Contreras and Stacey Travers.

Winning the LD 12 Senate seat was Democratic state Rep. Mitzi Epstein of Tempe, who was vying to replace Democratic Sen. Sean Bowie of Ahwatukee, who opted not to seek another term. Epstein defeated Ahwatukee Republican David Richardson 58% to 42%.

Democratic and independent voter registration outweighs Republicans in LD12, which has been all blue since 2016.