Apparently, the transition to governing periods, as well as who one associates with, can be telling to people who want to gauge what kind of leader a successful nominee will be.
Take two examples in Arizona this week: Governor-Elect Katie Hobbs and apparent Superintendent of Public Instruction-Elect Tom Horne (there may be a recount here although current Superintendent Kathy Hoffman, unlike Hobbs’s Trump Republican election-denying opponent, has graciously conceded.)
In a sign that she will govern in a bipartisan manner, Governor-Elect Hobbs selected both a Democrat (Mike Haener, former deputy chief of staff to Governor Janet Napolitano) and a Republican (Monica Villalobos, president, and CEO of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.)
In a statement making the announcement, the soon-to-be Arizona Governor said:
“I am thrilled to have Monica Villalobos and Michael Haener as co-chairs of the transition team for my administration. Their track record of leadership and commitment to public service are an asset to my team as we build an administration that reflects the diversity and needs of our great state. I look forward to working with Monica and Mike, and I’m incredibly honored that they are joining me on this journey to move Arizona forward.”
With this selection, the Governor-Elect has signaled to voters that hers will be a good steward of the state administration with, as she pledged to do in her acceptance speech, an open-door policy to members of both major political parties in finding common ground solutions to the challenges Arizona faces.
Contrast the Hobbs approach with Hornes.
Instead of steering a bipartisan course, the apparent next Superintendent of Public Instruction veered extreme right by announcing his intention to select Christine Accurso, the darling of the pro-voucher movement in Arizona as the overseer of the expanded Empowerment Scholarship Program at the Department of Education.
Talk about the lunatics being in charge of the asylum.
Commenting on Ms. Accurso’s selection, Beth Lewis, the Executive Director of Save Our Schools Arizona, wrote:
“Tom Horne has based his entire candidacy on attacking public schools and teachers and pushing for universal vouchers that defund our local schools. By tapping pro-voucher activist Christine Accurso to run the ESA voucher program as his first move post-election, Horne is signaling that he’s prioritizing private school vouchers over the 1.1 million public school students he was elected to serve. Accurso will soon find that running a universal ESA program of 40,000 students with limited resources from the state is more difficult than she gave Supt Hoffman’s team credit for, after attacking them relentlessly for years for political gains.
Our children sadly are pawns in these political games to privatize our schools. Save Our Schools Arizona volunteers will be there to fight Horne and Accurso’s efforts at every turn.”
Readers need to remember that current Superintendent Hoffman, and others in the State Legislature, made a point, during their times in the office, of noting many financial and enrollment “missteps” and, let’s face it “getting around the letter of the law and gaming the system” among families and pro-voucher interests before the scholarship law was expanded.
Good luck seeing Ms. Accurso being an impartial umpire when rich Arizona families take advantage of the system when she is at the helm.
Good job to those voters who thought voting for Hobbs, Kelly, Fontes, and Mayes was enough to protect children, Democracy, and fairness in the state budget.
While Governor-Elect Hobbs will be a welcome change after 12 years of Republican Governance for mostly the rich and shameless, Tom Horne is already making most people miss Superintendent Kathy Hoffman two months before he apparently will take over.
It is undoubtedly going to be an interesting four years at the Arizona Department of Education; many times for the wrong reasons.