Governor Candidates Farley and Garcia Will Restore Education in Arizona

Student moderator Patrick Robles of Sunnyside High School, Candidates David Garcia and Steve Farley, and student moderator Aiselyn Anaya of Amphi High School.

Democrats in Arizona have two outstanding choices in the candidates for Governor: college professor David Garcia and veteran Arizona state senator Steve Farley — both of whom pledged to restore school funding and raise teacher salaries after years of sabotage by the Republican legislature and governor.

They spoke at an education town hall sponsored by the Arizona Education Association at Pueblo High School on the far south side.


Farley pledged to give teachers a 20% pay raise, to fully fund education, to sponsor a constitutional amendment to allow collective bargaining by teachers, and to block deportation of DACA recipients.

Best quotes by Farley:

  • “Every time President Trump tweets, another Democratic activist is born.”
  • When Governor Ducey tell you we don’t have enough money for education, he’s lying.”

Garcia called for an end to reliance on standardized testing, restoring ethnic studies in schools, paying teachers as professionals, revising the public school funding formula, and going to teachers’ unions first to formulate school policy.

He repeatedly spoke in Spanish to the standing-room only audience, emphasizing his Latino heritage, and referring to himself as “The anti-Ducey.”

Best quotes by Garcia:

  • “My goal is to have Arizona be one of the best places in the country to be a kid.”
  • “The legislature looks at teachers like missionaries, as people who would teach just for the good of the kids. The reality is we must pay our teachers as professionals.”

Teacher salaries

Both candidates supported pay raises for teachers. Arizona is dead last nationwide in elementary school teacher pay and 49th in the country for secondary school teacher pay, according to Expect More Arizona. Gov. Ducey has proposed a Scroogelike .4 percent pay raise for teachers.

Farley pointed out that there are 1,300 teacher vacancies in Arizona. He called for a 20% raise in teacher pay. “There are classes doubled up because there are not enough teachers.”

Farley said the teacher raises would cost $750 million, and funding would come from closing 330 corporate sales tax loopholes that bleed $13.7 billion from the general fund.

Garcia offered no specifics, saying only “we need to pay teachers as professionals.” He called for rolling back standardized testing, saying “A standardized test will not tell you how good a teacher you are. When you teach students to fill in a bubble sheeting, you take all the joy and creativity out of teaching.”

Both candidates called for restoring funding for education support staff, including food service, student transportation, and school counselors. “I used to stutter in 5th grade,” Garcia said. “I got a few minutes with a school counselor and he changed my life. If should not be a matter of luck that you get a counselor, it should be an expectation.”

More than 250 people jammed the education town hall sponsored by the Arizona Education Association.

Ethnic studies

Garcia and Farley supported restoring ethnic studies in high schools. A federal judge in Arizona ruled in August that the state violated the constitutional rights of Mexican American students by eliminating a successful Mexican American studies program in Tucson in 2012, saying officials “were motivated by racial animus” and were pushing “discriminatory ends in order to make political gains.”

Garcia said, “I took Chicano literature in college and I was shocked that it took so long to read about my neighborhood and my history. We need to have ethnic studies in high school as soon as possible.”

As a state Senator Farley led the fight against the bill to ban Mexican studies. “How can you get rid of a program that raises test schools and reaches students that other curriculums don’t reach? It was showing tremendous outcomes. But that wasn’t the reason were banned. It was banned because the people in the legislature were trying to attract the racists who vote for them in their primaries,” he said.

End “Right to Work” law

Public employees in Arizona do not have collective bargaining rights due, in part to the anti-union provision in Article XXV of the Arizona Constitution. The right to work provision says unions cannot require employees to join.

I will make Arizona a union-friendly state at last,” Farley said. “Now that there’s an ongoing war against unions, people in the lower end of the scale do worse, and the people at the top 99.9 percent are getting more than they ever had in their lifetimes. That must change.”

Garcia said he will give teacher unions a voice when developing education policy. “We will go to educators first. We’ll go to strongest people out there and that is the teachers union. We will develop education policy with educators and then take it out to a broader community,” he said.

Beating Governor Ducey

Garcia and Farley have an uphill battle to defeat Gov. Ducey, who was elected in 2014. The race is rated as “likely Republican” by five surveys compiled by Ballotpedia. Ducey is heavily supported by the right-wing Koch brothers and millions in dark money contributions.

Farley said, “”I’ve won six elections in a row, so I know how to win. I’ve been serving in the legislature for 11 years, and I know the tricks it takes to get things done. I know how to beat him because a lot of people upset with him including Republicans. We can beat Governor Ducey because he’s not well liked by anybody.”

Garcia said, “We’ve seen Democrats overperforming everywhere since November 2016, and that will happen in Arizona. When we get communities that are not paying attention today, people within walking distance from this school, and we get them to vote in big numbers, that’s when we win big. What I can bring and what we’ll do with my campaign (speaking in Spanish, then English) is talk to people in their language and then we’ll win big.”


8 thoughts on “Governor Candidates Farley and Garcia Will Restore Education in Arizona”

  1. The Cambridge Dictionary defines loophole as “…an opportunity to legally avoid an unpleasant responsibility, usually because of a mistake in the way rules or laws have been written…”

    The big ticket “loopholes” that Dems have historically said they would close to raise big revenue are taxing services and taxing wholesale transactions. Those are not loopholes but very conscious policy decisions.

    Dems should be honest and say that they are not closing loopholes but making conscious decisions to raise taxes and not just any taxes but the sales tax, which they always claim is regressive and disproportionately falls on the poor.

    • In case you hadn’t noticed but it’s your Republicans who are setting policy these days. They follow Paul Ryan and yap about closing loopholes but never seem to specify which ones, especially when it comes to the financial sector. Perhaps you could enlighten us?

      • I do not see loopholes to be closed. Even the 4 inch pipe loophole was a Dem scam. They were not Home Depot pipes but high pressure utility gas pipes. Any tax added to them would be immediately passed on to consumers as a cost of doing business.

        Do you support increasing items to be subject to the regressive sales tax?

        Forget about DC and talk about your Democrat candidates tax increases disguised as loophole closings.

        • Of course you don’t see loopholes to be closed, you corporate donors won’t allow it.

          I support a progressive tax system like we had from the late 1940’s to the early 1970’s. You know, a tax system that just happened to coincide with the largest economical growth in history. A growth that started to recede with the implementation of conservative “voodoo economics”. Unfortunately your conservative blinders will never let you acknowledge the historical truth.

          • So you oppose Farley’s increase to the regressive sales tax by including services and wholesale transactions?
            Good for you!

          • Senator, to use an old cliche I’m typing this real slowly so perhaps you’ll understand. Taxes should be raised on those who can afford them, the wealthier the higher the rate. Especially those wealthy entities who have been rigging/gaming the system to get a free ride. Taxes should be lowered on those who can least afford them. What part of that do you refuse to understand?

            I’m on a diet so quit trying to put words in my mouth! And take those corporate and wealthy donors c**ks out of yours!

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