Martha Durkin appointed to PCC Governing Board


Press release:

Martha Durkin
Martha Durkin


“Pima County School Superintendent, Dr. Linda Arzoumanian, has selected Martha Durkin to fill the District 5 vacancy on the Board of Governors of Pima Community College. The Community Advisory Committee made its recommendation to Dr. Arzoumanian after interviewing five applicants on August 29, 2015. Dr. Arzoumanian selected Ms. Durkin for having a background that matches the challenges of moving Pima Community College forward. In her interview with the Committee, she provided a clear, concise message to build consensus through her ability to communicate effectively. Ms. Durkin will be able to help the Board and the College to rebuild the integrity in the management of its program to promote transparence and openness. Ms. Durkin will begin her term upon taking the Oath of Office and will serve through December 2016. This position will be on the November 2016 Genersal Election ballot for a special, two-year term.

Ms. Durkin fills the seat left vacant by the resignation of Marty Cortez on June 29, 2015. Dr. Arzoumanian would like to thank the members of the community advisory committee – Ana Valenzuela Estrada, Yolanda Herrera, Phil Lopes, Mark Hinrichs, Alec Moreno, Mays Imad, Don Harp and Dr. H.T. Sánchez – for their important work and commitment to this process. Dr. Arzoumanian would also like to thank the applicants for their desire to serve the College community and to recognize the strength of the pool of candidates. For information regarding the selection process, contact Ricardo Hernandez, 520.724.8451 or”

Carolyn’s note:  Martha Durkin is the City of Tucson’s Deputy City Manager. She was also until just recently the Interim City Manager until the hiring of City Manager Michael Ortega, who started work on July 1, 2015.

The other four applicants for this District 5 board position  were  activist Cecilia Cruz, instuctor Richard Fridena, Luis Gonzales, and instructor James Mielke.  Fridena had run for a  PCC Governing Board seat previously in 2012.  Luis Gonzales is a former State Senator.   Former Pima County Supervisor Jim Murphy and instructor Francis Saitta (who also ran for a PCC Board seat in 2012) withdrew after filing their applications.  

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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).


    I am usually on the flip side of Jana but here I agree with her. Georgia is off base on this one. There is a lot of background history on Martha Durkin that is being ignored. Her legacy is not a good one and she has proven over the years to bolster the top-gun men in power in ways that damage the institutions which they serve (or better said, serve poorly).
    Martha Dragon Durkin, as she was referred to during her few years at TUSD, was responsible for much of the poison that was poured into the TUSD system, which remains to this day. As one of Pedicone’s key advisors and his main legal advisor, she was responsible for convincing him (and probably Stegeman) that MAS had to be “suspended,” never making mention of the desegregation court order which should have been used by her and Pedicone to protect MAS. She was the one who advised him to militarize the board room and the premises around TUSD, when brown people showed up by the hundreds to support a program which had brought only positive outcomes for students who took MAS courses. Now TUSD expends hundreds of thousands of dollars on its own security force, whose security officers wear blue uniforms to mirror those of TPD’s. They also holster loaded guns. She was the one who advised Pedicone to have desegregation committee members searched prior to attending their meetings at 1010. (All brown and black people.) (For me this was the lowest day of my employment in TUSD.) She was the one who advised Pedicone on how to proceed in challenging the state through the MAS appeals process; which was to go “limp” and basically do nothing. Martha Dragon Durkin was the one who advised Pedicone to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to install a bullet proof board room dais. Durkin’s legacy at Pima County is not much different. She advised Chuck Huckelberry in the wrong direction on many programs that would have promoted social justice within Pima County for both employees and community members who utilize their services. Behind the scenes she was responsible for the dismissal of many minorities. She supported Huckelberry’s silo management. One department does not know what the other is doing and she prompted Pedicone to do the same, which she knew essentially gave the “masters” more power.
    As someone who has always had a behind-the-scenes and whispering role, the fall-out of her very contemptuous advise has never stuck to her. It will be interesting to see if her dark side will now rule since she will be making decisions in public. She should be watched very carefully! She should be pressured NOW to vote on behalf of students, instead of the “main man”. Her role has always been to support “the main man.”
    If we knew which man or men went to her to persaude her to throw her hat in the ring for the PCC board position, we would know now what her agenda will be. However, the Dragon can be tamed by public pressure!
    And…since we know that the PCC Chancellor and TUSD Superintendent are cut from the same cloth (EGO) and that they have bonded, it would be interesting how H.T. Sanchez influenced the committee outcome, leading to Dragon Durkin’s appointment.

  2. Ms. Durkin’s record should give us pause. First, she was TUSD’s counsel during the time that the DeConcini firm handled the appeal the administrative action by Supt Huppenthal against TUSD regarding of the Mexican American Studies. There were numerous litigation decisions (e.g. failure to hire an expert witness to testify about MAS, failure to require Huppenthal to testify, failure to cross-examine board members on damaging testimony, voluntary depositions of key TUSD actors, failure to offer testimony of supportive board members), EACH ONE breaking in favor of Huppenthal. We don’t know who made those decisions and lawyers can make mistakes. But one after another after another? Sounds like TUSD was in bed with Huppenthal.
    Second, she was TUSD’s counsel during the book banning after the shut down of MAS. Shock and awe, indeed.
    Third, when TUSD had objected to Culturally Relevant classes being included in the most recent proposed desegregation order, board member Mark Stegeman pulled some parliamentary funny business to mislead fellow board member Grijalva into thinking that the board was voting on a reversal of that position. Afterward, Ms. Grijalva stated on the record her belief as to the board’s reversal and asked for affirmation. Ms. Durkin, sitting on the dais as the Board’s counsel, was silent. Perhaps Grijalva took the silence for affirmation. BIG MISTAKE.

    PCC has gone through a lot of turmoil, just like TUSD. Stay tuned.

  3. I believe this is a good appointment. Martha has displayed integrity, ethical behavior, and a keen mind throughout her career. Now we will see how she operates in a board policy making position. I have hope for the future. There were other qualified candidates. I think Martha will be open to community input. Hope I’m not wrong, as this is a very important position.

    • Thanks for your input Georgia. I missed the Tucson Residents for Responsive Government (TRRG) meeting when Martha spoke to them in Sept. 2014, but they reported that she was very intelligent and open. Good luck to her at PCC.

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