Meet the Candidates
By Jenny Rose
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday September 4, 2002
Superintendent of Public Instruction
ext Tuesday, Arizona voters will decide which superintendent of public instruction candidates will advance to the general election.
In addition to acting as the figurehead for K-12 education, the winner of the superintendent seat will have a voting seat on the Arizona Board of Regents.
And as a voting member, the superintendent will have a say in UA related issues including tuition increases, employee raises and building projects.
Matt Ortega, spokesman for the regents, said the position is an important one on the board because Arizona students have traditionally been unprepared for the university system and for the workforce.
By strengthening their understanding of technology ö through the use of proposition 301 money ö Ortega said the superintendent can pave students' way out of K-12.
Jay Blanchard (D)
Personal Information: 56-years-old, married, three children.
Profession: 30 years as a professor at Arizona State University, two years as Arizona state senator, former public school teacher.
Education: Doctorate in reading education from University of Georgia.
At a glance: Blanchard could not be reached to comment specifically on university-related issues, but his Web site and profiles say that Arizona educators need better pay. He also says he wants more leadership in the education system, and sets the goal of having Arizona students achievement rank with the top ten in the nation.
Rod Rich (D)
Personal Information: 53-years-old, married, three children.
Profession: Public school principal, 13 years, former social studies teacher and counselor.
Education: Bachelor of arts in social studies education and master of science in counseling from Purdue University.
At a glance: Rich opposes raising tuition. He says state university funding needs to be restored to the level it was at before budget cuts. He says raising university tuition and not funding the universities properly inevitably causes students to stay in school longer because classes are cut. He says raised tuition constitutes a "hidden tax" for both parents and students.
John C. Zajac (L)
Personal Information: 45-years-old, single.
Profession: Television and radio commercial director and producer, former teacher and SAT coach.
Education: Master of science in biology from Stanford University.
At a glance: Zajac says tuition in the Arizona university system is incredibly low ö especially in comparison with other universities around the country. He says that Arizona's universities are badly under-funded, and one of the only ways to get more money into the university system without waiting for the state economy to turn around is to raise tuition while improving scholarship programs for students that need financial aid.
Keith Bee (R)
Personal Information: 36-years-old, married, three children.
Profession: Small business owner, two years a state House representative.
Education: Bachelor of science in business from UA
At a glance: A strong supporter of the university system, Bee adamantly opposes raising tuition. As a graduate of UA, Bee says he remembers how hard it was to pay for his education. He says the state has a responsibility to make higher education as free as possible.
Tom Horne (R)
Personal Information: 57-years-old, married, four children.
Profession: Lawyer, member of state legislature from 1996-2000, former teacher of legal writing at Arizona State University
Education: Bachelor of arts from Harvard College, jurice doctorate from Harvard Law School.
At a glance: Horne says the state needs to properly fund the university system and would like to see university funding restored to its level before the downfall of the state economy. Horne says it is also important to raise university funding beyond its levels two years ago if the state economy turns around and allows enough money to go to the institutions.
Jaime Molera (R)
Personal Information: 34-years-old, married, one child.
Profession: Current superintendent of public instruction, former policy advisor to Gov. Jane Dee Hull, former director of policy at Arizona Department of Education.
Education: Bachelor of arts in communications from Arizona State University.
At a glance: As superintendent, Molera led the charge keep tuition raises as low as possible when the issue was voted on by the regent in April, says his campaign manager Gary Bae. Bae said Arizona is behind most states in education spending, and he wants to see more money invested in the education system.