Final vote tally for TUSD Governing Board election


Pima County Elections Division finally finished up tallying the provisional and early ballots for the 2014 General Election. Here’s the final count for the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) governing board race, which was a 9 way race for 2 nonpartisan seats.

Long term incumbent Adelita Grijalva has prevailed and had been leading since election night (November 4, 2014).  The results for the 2nd seat has been close as indicated by the final tally, with incumbent Micheal Hicks winning re-election by 517 votes.

Newcomer Jen Darland (parent/activist) who came in 3rd had received many union endorsements (including Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce) and from the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Weekly newspapers.

Candidate Miguel Cuevas served one term on the board and was defeated in 2012. This was the 2nd try for candidates Campos-Fleenor, Cotton, Putnam-Hidalgo who ran before for one of three seats in 2012.

Rene Bernal  15,424   8.75%

Debe Campos-Fleenor  17, 647  10.01%

Don Cotton  18,944  10.74%

Miguel Cuevas  11,581  6.57%

Jen Darland   28, 191  15.99%

Adelita Grijalva, incumbent  34, 347  19.48%

Michael Hicks, incumbent  28,708  16.28%

Betts Putnam-Hidalgo  16, 927   9.6%

Francis Saitta  3952  2.24%

Incumbents Adelita Grijalva and Michael Hicks will serve for another 4 years.

The three other TUSD board members Kristel Foster, Cam Juarez and Dr. Mark Stegeman are up for re-election in 2016.

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Carolyn Classen
Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, (since Jan. 2013).


  1. G.B said:

    I see no way to change that in a nonpartisan race that doesn’t limit the community voice.

    But there is a way! A good way! Instant Runoff Voting solves this problem and a host of others. Whenver there isn’t a primary, IRV is super-important in order to prevent absurd results. We should insist on this for school board races, water board races, and everything else.

    IRV sounds more complicated that it is. Let’s take the recent TUSD election as an example. Subject to mild assumptions, Grijalva and Darland would have kept all their first-place votes, and IRV would have let them split the remaining Democratic votes, which would have given them both a win. Hicks would have kept all his first-place votes and garnered approximately 100% of the other Republican votes, which would have left him the distant runner-up. You can check my numbers if you like.

    IRV is also a good idea even if there is a primary. This would have avoided the recent Kansas senate goat rodeo. It would have avoided the situation in Maine where a creep won the governorship — again — with less than 50% of the vote. It would have avoided the current pointless runoff for Lousiana senate. You can also note that third party candidates were part of the chain of causation in the 2000 presidential election fiasco. Without them — or with IRV — Gore would have had an unstealable victory.

    IRV should be a non-partisan issue. Everybody should support it, in the name of good governance. Republicans don’t want third parties messing up their campaigns. Democrats don’t want third parties messing up their campaigns. Third parties like IRV because they will actually get more votes if they’re not just spoilers.

  2. Georgia, thanks for your astute comments. All I can say after reporting on elections for years (at since 2009) is that incumbents have a strong edge over political newcomers due to campaign experience and name recognition. Although this is a nonpartisan race, the candidates were listed on the websites of the Pima County Democratic Party (6 of 7) and Pima County Republican Party (2). I expect 3rd place candidate/activist Jen Darland to run again in two years when Democrats Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez and Independent Dr. Mark Stegeman are up for re-election.

  3. After all the drama, the sound and fury, the major, passionate campaigning by all but one candidate, the endorsements and unprecedented involvements by sitting and past board members, we end up with the same two incumbents. I for one was really surprised that both incumbents prevailed. Three forums in different parts of the district, pretty good media coverage of all of them and two of them live-streamed, as well as partisan involvement and serious precinct walking and calling to GOTV. Alliances with major campaigns to increase visibility. All the essentials were in place to bring about change, if desired. And yet the public didn’t get sufficiently behind a challenger, despite several notable choices.

    Folks say there were too many candidates. Could be true. I see no way to change that in a nonpartisan race that doesn’t limit the community voice. The Hispanic voice was clearly out there with 5 Spanish surnamed candidates. Once again, no African-American candidate surfaced. There were business candidates, education candidates, parent candidates, and speakers for various causes. No single issue dominated to provide a clear path for voters. If one less candidate were on the ballot, there “might” have been change.

    What to draw from all this: TUSD will muddle on, doing the best it can to handle the diverse needs of a diverse district. It will continue to try to reach various communities of need and to provide continuing academic growth for all students in the ways they learn most effectively, in the face of almost guaranteed legislative indifference to school funding needs and state interference in local decision making. I hope the voters and other candidates will get behind the winners and superintendent and at least try to get the job done as well as possible till the next election cycle. I, for one, am tired of all the drama.

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