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County sup't to review candidates for TUSD board vacancy

With the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board opting out of recommending any candidates, Pima schools Superintendent Dustin Williams is accepting applications from candidates interested in being appointed to help run Tucson's largest school district.

The vacant seat was created by the sudden resignation of Mark Stegeman earlier this month.

The board voted unanimously Wednesday night to not exercise their ability to submit names for consideration.

Under state law, Williams, the Pima County superintendent of schools, is the elected officer who must name a replacement.

Williams said Thursday morning that he'll accept applications through October 24, and name a new board member by Nov. 1.

The TUSD board had the option of submitting up to three names to Williams for consideration, but he would not be legally bound to appoint one of the nominees named by the district.

Williams could also call a special election to fill the seat. But the balance of Stegeman's term runs only through next year, and an election process would take months.

From Williams' office:

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Qualified candidates who would like to be considered for the vacancy must submit an affidavit of qualification and candidate appointment questionnaire to the Pima County School Superintendent's Office by October 24, 2019, at 5:00 pm. The application packet can be found at: http://www.schools.pima.gov/elections. The completed packet may be delivered to our office at 200 N. Stone Ave. or emailed to schools@schools.pima.gov.

All applications will be thoroughly reviewed and considered by the Superintendent and Chief Deputy. Superintendent Williams will announce his appointment on or before November 1, 2019.

"I take this responsibility very seriously. I will appoint the candidate who most closely aligns with TUSD's Governing Board adopted mission, vision, and values," Williams said in a news release.

Stegeman, in his third term on the board of Tucson's largest school district, resigned effective immediately on Oct. 3, in an unexpected announcement.

Stegeman was first elected to the Governing Board of the Tucson Unified School District in 2008. He has at various times served as president of the board, and been at the center of many TUSD controversies over the past decade.

Under state law, county school superintendents fill vacancies on school boards, with appointees serving through the next regular general election. The district may submit a list of three suggestions of people who have expressed interest, but the superintendent has discretion to select another person as the appointee. The superintendent has the option of calling for a special election — something that former Supt. Linda Arzoumanian used as leverage to get the TUSD Board to follow the process she laid out during the last vacancy on that body.

An election in November of next year will determine who will fill the seat for the next term.The five-member Governing Board is elected on a nonpartisan basis to four-year terms, on a staggered basis. Stegeman's term was due to end after the 2020 election. Also up for election next November will be Boardmembers Rachael Sedgwick, currently the board clerk, and Foster.

A TUSD board vacancy was last filled in 2012, when Alex Sugiyama was appointed after the death of Judy Burns.

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