By: Don Kirkland
October 25, 2008

If you’ve been a regular reader over the years, you may have noticed that we typically don’t suggest how we believe people should vote on the issues facing our community.

It’s not because we don’t have thoughts about these things, just that we’re not able to delve into them sufficiently to make ironclad recommendations.

This coming election is no different, with the exception that we – like you, we’d guess – are feeling that the outcome of our decisions on Nov. 4 could have an important and long-lasting impact on our neighborhoods, our kids and our lives. Like you, we’d like to think our decisions will be the right ones.

So what we’re sharing herein is a random accumulation of thoughts on a widely ranging but incomplete assortment of candidates and issues. They’re not recommendations in the normal sense but rather some of the things we’re thinking about as we get closer to Election Day.

School unification – This is a proposal that some believe makes good economic sense; it is, in the view of its backers, an approach that should have been adopted years ago. However, questions remain about the claimed tax benefits, which could apply to some taxpayers but not others.

We also worry that the loss of the Kyrene school district as a centerpiece of our south Tempe/west Chandler neighborhoods could undermine the foundations on which this unique and enviable community has been built.

Certainly there always are efficiencies that can improve the ways in which the district’s governing board, its superintendent Dr. Schauer and its staff bring the opportunity for educational excellence to our children. But all of the pieces appear now to be in place, and we think our Kyrene schools should be given an opportunity to continue a job for which they have proven themselves so capable.

Kyrene Governing Board – It’s good to know that this race has drawn such a substantial number of qualified candidates. However, Ross Robb and Rich Zawtocki appear to possess the skills and in-depth experience necessary to intelligently resolve the many complex issues the district will need to address in the coming term. As to the third open seat on the board, we feel that Michelle Hirsch is a candidate deserving of consideration. We’ve known Michelle as a contributor to these pages in years past, and we hold memories of someone truly dedicated to helping build a better future for our children. Seldom have we had a discussion with Michelle that we didn’t walk away feeling confident of her skills and energized by her enthusiasm.

Tempe Union High School District – From an article contributed by Matt Austin in our last issue came news that failure of the district’s budget and operating overrides would mean substantial cuts to the educational system that prepares our young people for college and their futures. We believe this to be a very real concern, and certainly one we cannot afford to risk. 

As to the various candidates seeking election to the TUHSD board, we’ve not worked directly with any of them. However, we have received many, many letters from Zita Johnson’s supporters, and those indeed speak to a substantial and widespread belief in her qualifications.

City of Tempe – While there is universal agreement on the need to eliminate unnecessary spending by governments around the nation, Tempe’s leaders have demonstrated a justifiable concern over aging facilities that could negatively impact the city’s safety and quality of life. This consideration was integral to their vote to place $241 million worth of capital-improvement bonds on the Nov. 4 ballot. We feel they made a tough but correct decision that deserves the support of Tempe voters. Approval of these bonds, by the way, will result in no increase to the city’s tax rate. More information is available online at

City of Chandler – Again, we haven’t worked directly with most of the City Council candidates. We do, however, recall a number of discussions in our early years with council veteran Matt Orlando, who proved himself to be responsive and forthcoming as we covered city issues. Coupled with his many years of experience, we see Orlando’s personal qualities as considerable reason to believe he continues to be an asset to the city’s system of governance.

In a column also in our last issue, Mayor Boyd Dunn told residents of west Chandler and other areas of the city about a proposed General Plan revision that will appear on the ballot.

As in Tempe, Chandler’s leadership can be credited with developing proposals they feel are in the city’s longterm best interest. Mayor Dunn expressed his hope that residents would read the recommended changes on the city’s website,, to help them vote knowledgeably. It’s a suggestion that makes sense to us, and we hope it will to you, too.




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