CCUSD candidates offer viewpoints

Elizabeth Medora~ 10/8/2014

CAVE CREEK – Two Cave Creek Unified School District governing board seats are being competed for this November. The three candidates running for these seats were guests at a candidate forum at the Fine Arts Center on Oct. 6. Cactus Shadows High School International Baccalaureate and National Honor Society students developed questions for the candidates, as well as running and moderating the forum. Written audience questions were also put forth.

Angelica Petersen, Mark Warren, and Cynthia Weiss are each running; two of the three of them will be elected to the CCUSD governing board. Current board members Susan Clancy and Stephanie Reese are not seeking reelection, creating the vacancies.

The forum began with the candidates offering personal statements.

Petersen spoke first, noting that she came from Cuba and that made her “very aware of what a quality education is.”

“Educating our children is something I’m very passionate about,” Petersen said. “The standard of excellence in our classroom is a reflection not only of the school but of the community.”

Warren, who has served on the CCUSD board in the past, spoke next, saying that he has been an “active proponent of education and the community of Cave Creek as a whole” for 16 years. He stated that in his previous service, he aimed “to be sure to stand up for the kids who don’t have someone to stand up for them” and promised in future service to “stand up for this great district.”

“My job is to protect and serve the students and the staff,” Warren said.

Weiss spoke last, stating that she brought “professional expertise in visual arts, technology, and marketing” as a candidate and that she is a “very proud parent in this school district,” as well as a district volunteer.

“I want to inspire our students to step out of their comfort zones,” Weiss said, adding that she wants to help “keep CCUSD one of the top-rated school districts in Arizona.”

Candidates were asked what they were most concerned about in CCUSD.

Warren’s chief concern was why the district has lost students and staff in the past several years. Weiss stated she was most concerned about the budget, noting that some teachers can no longer afford to teach. Petersen’s main concern was seeing that the majority of taxpayer dollars are spent in the classroom.

CCUSD has two bond questions on the Nov. 4 ballot. Candidates were asked if they supported the bonds.

“I wholeheartedly support both bond questions,” Weiss responded, adding that she was the only candidate to serve on the bond committee and is currently serving on the bond action committee. Weiss said that passing the bonds would help keep the schools healthy and the buildings in good repair.  She also noted that she was currently paying 50 percent less in taxes than she was 20 years ago and that the passage of the bonds would leave her still paying 45 percent less than she paid 20 years ago.

Petersen said she supported bringing funding into the district but emphasized she is “only in support of ballot question number one.”

Warren said he is in support of both bonds and has worked with Weiss to hang signs campaigning for them. He called the bonds an “investment in our future and investment in our kids.”

Governing board disagreements are common; candidates were asked how they would handle not being in consensus on a vote.

Weiss answered that she would “never undermine the community decision of the vote. The purpose of the five-member board is to find our voice as a community.”

Petersen said she felt it was “important for all board members to offer perspective” and that she would “be professional and expect it from the others.”

“Have to suck it up and move on,” Warren said, eliciting laughter from the audience. “Support the action. Be professional. Expect and give respect.”

The candidates were asked if they supported the new College and Career-Ready Standards.

Weiss said she supported higher standards but that it was “best handled at the local level.”

Petersen said that she would “be on top of curriculum to make sure it is the best for our children and our country.”

Warren said he supports the desire for higher standards but that he “never thought a standard set by someone else should be a top line.”

 

Asked what made them different from each other, the candidates gave a variety of answers.

Warren noted his experience and good relationship with the community. Weiss cited her “pure passion” for serving CCUSD. Petersen referred to her volunteer work and business experience, adding that she loves children.

Each candidate gave a closing statement, thanking the student organizers and the audience and community.

“Our children need a champion, and that champion is me,” Petersen said. “I believe in public education.”

“My goal to stand in the gap when others will attack,” Warren stated. “I will stand up for your children when others won’t.”

Weiss said she is a “product of several public educational systems” and that she will “ensure a strong future for our schools.”

“It’s an amazing school district because of the work that we all do,” Weiss concluded.

The governing board election will be held with the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 4. For more information on CCUSD programs and procedures, see www.ccusd93.org.