Six candidates vying to be elected as the state’s top education official are participating in a forum Tuesday night that will be live-streamed on azcentral.com.
The 90-minute forum, organized by Arizona Talks and moderated by Arizona Republic local politics and issues editor Alia Beard Rau, is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
The race for Arizona superintendent of public instruction is shaping up as one of the most competitive statewide races in the 2018 election.
Seven candidates are challenging Republican incumbent Diane Douglas, who won a competitive 2014 election on a platform to get rid of Arizona’s Common Core-based learning standards.
Five of the candidates, including Douglas, are Republicans. Two are Democrats, and another is running as an independent.
Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction oversees the state’s Department of Education and sits on 11-member State Board of Education, as well as the State Board for Charter Schools.
The state schools superintendent post is largely administrative, with the official serving as head of an agency tasked with implementing and enforcing policies created by the Arizona governor, Legislature and state education board.
But the role also provides a potentially visible and powerful platform for advocacy.
According to the event organizers, candidates at the Arizona Talks forum will discuss “ideas like the job of the superintendent, how the role can influence change, and solutions for Arizona’s education system.”
Two candidates — Republican Frank Riggs and Democrat Kathy Hoffman — will not participate in Tuesday’s forum.
Here are the six participating candidates:
- Diane Douglas, a Republican and current Arizona superintendent of public instruction.
- Stacie Banks, an independent and former teacher and Maricopa County Educational Services Agency coordinator.
- Bob Branch, a Republican, college professor and Maricopa County Parks and Recreation commissioner.
- Jonathan Gelbart, a Republican and former director for charter school development at BASIS.ed.
- Tracy Livingston, a Republican, former teacher and Maricopa Community Colleges board member.
- David Schapira, a Democrat and Tempe City Council member.
Arizona Talks is a nonprofit that organizes public events throughout Arizona in the fields of policy and art. The event is at Banner Church, 3625 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale. To attend, an RSVP is required.