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Coconino Voices: Hold candidates accountable to education agenda
By Sara Presler

I wholeheartedly believe in the need for a solid education system, for the good of our children, our economy and for everyone in the community. The connection is undeniable: high-quality, well-paying industries look for skilled and educated workers, and this asset is one of the first things companies consider when locating and/or expanding their businesses in our state. I now see this first-hand as we work together to bring new, high-wage jobs into Flagstaff and Northern Arizona.

As a private citizen, I cannot stress enough how much I support education as a priority issue when I vote in local, statewide and national elections. Education is a vital part of our community, inextricably linked to our ability to be prosperous and successful. If we provide our students with access to education that is of the best quality and expect them to achieve academically, we will all reap benefits well into the future.

Recently, Expect More Arizona launched a new and exciting initiative to provide voters with information and resources to help them determine whether candidates for public office are truly “pro-education.” Known as “Vote 4 Education,” the campaign is geared toward encouraging voters to make education a hot-button issue at the ballot box this year as they consider ballot initiatives and elect leaders at all levels of government. The campaign is nonpartisan and does not support candidates; rather, it gives voters four questions they can use to determine whether office hopefuls are making education a priority issue and four actions that Expect More Arizona is supporting through the end of the election cycle in November. The four actions, three of which remain, include:

1. Vote “Yes” on 100 — Temporary state sales tax hike (passed)

2. Vote “No” on 302 — Protect the Voter-Approved Early Childhood Health and Development Initiative (a.k.a. First Things First)

3. Make sure your candidates are unwavering advocates for education

4. Rally 10 friends to vote with education as their “hot-button issue”

Most of us in public office will say we are pro-education, but what does that mean? Being specific and knowledgeable is becoming increasingly important to constituents, and a recent survey from Expect More Arizona finds voters may be more willing than ever to make education a priority when going to the polls this year. The answers to the four questions below are very telling and can help voters decide which candidates are deserving of their votes in the August primaries and the November general elections. Ask yourselves about every candidate:

1. Is education a top priority?

2. Do they have a clear plan with specific strategies for education in our state?

3. Are they willing to invest resources in education?

4. How will they challenge Arizonans to expect more and do more for education?

As voters, we need solid answers when we ask candidates these questions. Elected officials work for the voting public. The public is loud and clear: We want and deserve high quality education for all children, and we want to raise the bar in education. And we are willing to take action to affect positive change, and get real results.

Education is everyone’s business — the quality of education Arizona children receive impacts everyone’s quality of life. Voters know it, and with the primary elections quickly approaching, we need to show we are serious about making education our hottest priority by embracing “Vote 4 Education” ourselves.

Sara Presler is a local attorney and the mayor of Flagstaff. She offers this opinion in her personal capacity.

Paid for by Expect More Arizona – Vote 4 Education, No on 302 – Protect Early Childhood Health/Development Funds.  Major funding by Expect More Arizona, a fund of the Arizona Community  Foundation.  The Vote 4 Education campaign is funded in its entirety by Helios Education Foundation and the Arizona Community Foundation through Expect More Arizona and does not use public funds.