Newspaper endorsements in TUSD Governing Board race

Our Tucson daily newspaper Arizona Daily Star has endorsed community activist Betts Putnam-Hidalgo (who ran unsuccessfully for a TUSD seat in 2012) and political newcomer Jen Darland  in the upcoming Tucson Unified School District Governing Board non-partisan race for 2 candidates.
Candidate Jen Darland
Candidate Jen Darland
Candidate Betts Putnam-Hidalgo
Candidate Betts Putnam-Hidalgo

From the Star editorial about Jen:

Jen Darland is running for the first time after years of involvement at her children’s school and co-founding the advocacy group Arizona Education Network.

She participated in two state efforts to increase education funding, including the successful Proposition 100 in 2010, which provided a temporary 1-cent sales tax for public education and other services.

The Star says this about Betts:

Putnam-Hidalgo ran for the board two years ago, as did three other 2014 candidates. Despite her loss, she still kept up her regular attendance at board meetings. She’s also been actively involved in school site councils, served as a community representative and taught English as a second language to parents.

She speaks with enthusiasm of participating in parent leadership training through Voices for Education as a starting point for her advocacy. She describes herself as a “bulldog” when it comes the education.

Betts is a community activist and P/T teacher (“parent, volunteer and advocate for public schools”),  and  Darland calls herself a “volunteer parent education advocate” at TUSD.  Both candidates have children attending TUSD schools.


The alternative Tucson Weekly announced on October 10,2014  their mostly Democratic endorsements  for candidates running in the November general election.
The Weekly  endorsed only community activist  Jen Darland as  a person “who has worked tirelessly as a volunteer on so many campaigns to try to improve the schools that we can’t even count them. Darland is smart and possesses the kind of good judgment that we’d like to see applied to the TUSD board” (page 10).
Neither newspaper endorsed the current incumbents Adelita Grijalva (3 terms) and Michael Hicks (1 term) seeking re-election.  Other candidates in this race are former TUSD Governing Bd. member Miguel Cuevas (1 term),  and political newcomer/engineer  Rene Bernal.  Candidates Debe Campos-Fleenor and  Don Cotton  ran before in 2012, as did candidate Francis Saitta who ran for PCC Governing Bd. (District 5) in 2012.
UPDATE:  Another TUSD candidates forum will be held on Oct. 20 at the YWCA. Check our Calendar for more details/info on which candidates will be attending.
Vote wisely or or before Nov. 4, 2014.  Early voting started on October 9.
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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. Hi Carolyn,
    Could you please let your readers know about this upcoming forum on Monday, October, 20 for the TUSD Board Candidates? It will be held at the YWCA, 525 N. Bonita Ave., from 6-8 pm. Co-sponsors are: Voices for Education, a local non-profit community-based organization, the Menlo Park Neighborhood Association, the Brichta Neighborhood Association, and the Legislative District (LD) 3 Democrats. (The LD 3 Republicans declined an invitation to co-sponsor the event.) The two sponsoring neighborhood associations are particularly concerned about Proposition 420, which would authorize TUSD to sell nine schools which have been closed, including Brichta and Menlo Park Elementary Schools. This proposition was placed on the ballot by TUSD without consulting the neighborhoods that would be affected. In the Voter Information Pamphlet for Proposition 420, only one TUSD board candidate weighed in on this important issue: Betts Putnam-Hidalgo. Please vote for Betts and vote NO on Proposition 420. Thank you.

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