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Flagstaff City Council and mayoral candidates have been given the chance to answer a weekly question in no more than 150 words. This week’s question: How do you feel about the Red for Ed movement, how will you vote on the FUSD bond in November and what is the council's role in supporting local education in Flagstaff?

Council

Regina Salas

I come from a family of teachers in the Philippines. My grandma often told me, “Your lifetime inheritance is education, not wealth or property.” I earned my bachelor’s degree from St. Scholastica’s College – Manila which produced the country’s first woman president, President Corazon Aquino. I was later invited to teach at my alma mater as a college instructor.

My sons were molded by FUSD schools and teachers. Gian graduated from Flagstaff High. Kelly went to DeMiguel and Sinagua, now a senior at Coconino. I support education, teachers, and the FUSD bond. I will make certain there is a balance between the cost to taxpayers, teachers and students.

I will pursue for Council to signify quality education and workforce development as a policy goal and demand much-needed funding from the state and federal government. Also, seek grants and public-private partnerships toward this goal. This will be implemented by Intergovernmental Relations Program.

Adam Shimoni

I first came to Flagstaff to pursue a degree in education and earned my Bachelor’s degree double majoring in Special Education and Career Tech Ed from NAU. I taught at multiple schools and loved working with teachers, staff and students. However, I always struggled with how severely underfunded the schools were. The #RedforEd movement deeply inspires me and I hope to see the momentum continue to grow. I will support the FUSD Bond on the November ballot. I believe in giving the voters an opportunity to invest in education and I plan to support it.

Council should also do its part and invest in education wherever it can including advocating the needs of our schools to the community and to the state. If elected, I also plan to establish a City youth commission empowering local youth to advocate for their needs and learn about the operations of local government.

Paul Deasy

I proudly support Red for Ed. My children and I went to every rally. The failures of our state legislature lead me to vote Yes on the FUSD bond. Although school funding is the state’s responsibility, we can’t neglect the children in our community like they have.

Council currently supports education through afterschool programs. Though it hasn’t been a priority in the past, I’d like City Council to be involved in Early Childhood Education, the area of education most neglected by the state. Other cities like Tempe are doing just that, and we can too. Much like healthcare, early intervention in education is the most cost-effective and best way to improve the health of our education system.

90 percent of children’s brains are grown by age 5, and the investment in young children has astounding effects on society, from increased workforce participation, child safety and health, graduation rates, and reduced crime.

Austin Aslan

I’ve vocally supported #RedForEd all along, and I’ll support this year’s FUSD bond. I vote to approve education investments (and other public investments) in most elections. Here’s why:

From 2001-2004 I served as a Natural Resources Peace Corp Volunteer in a mountain ranching town in Honduras. Alongside locals, I became intimately familiar with the frustrations of living under a government that was terrible at collecting taxes or fostering public investments for essential services as simple as roads and other basic infrastructure projects, to public safety, to education. I know in my bones that a chronic, systemic lack of public investment hurts communities in profound and lasting ways.

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Government corruption is part of Honduras’ problem. But not here. Flagstaff school officials and teachers have proven to taxpayers that they can invest our public dollars wisely. If we want Flagstaff to thrive, let’s provide our schools with what they say they need.

Alex Martinez

Not since JFK have I witnessed a sense of solidarity among our citizens regarding the Red for Ed movement. I feel energized, hopeful and dedicated to the pursuit of building upon America's greatest institution, the public school system. Public school education has been the way for our children to help achieve the American dream.

I unequivocally support the bond for education. This is an investment in human capital that will pay long lasting dividends to our economic growth, society and individual spirit. As a retired public school superintendent, I feel it is everyone's obligation to support public school education.

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The cities of Tempe and Prescott have funded all day preschool education for their communities. The philosophy is that preschool education is preventative in nature and saves public tax dollars on crisis intervention. The council needs to show leadership in our community's well being by supporting the public school system.

Dennis Lavin

The City does not directly fund FUSD. Our role is to provide exceptional community services through economic prosperity and a safe and livable community.

I support the budget override initiative ($8 million) for operating expenses.

As to the $75 million capital initiative, I am leaning towards supporting it. Whether in this election year or the future, our schools infrastructure needs to be brought into the 21st century, especially with the new housing stock coming on line. Before I commit, I want to meet with the Bond Oversight Committee to complete my due diligence. Let’s continue the Legacy of the Riordan and Babbitt families.

Our local “Red for Ed movement” will be measured as a success, if and when the Board of FUSD places the dollars into the paychecks of our front-line teachers and support team.

Please keep your eyes open to all the other ballot initiatives for our tax dollars.

Mayor

Coral Evans

I fully support the Red for Ed movement, the Invest in Education initiative, and the FUSD bond. The state has repeatedly failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to fund our schools requiring the voters to step in lest we put the future of our community at risk.

While funding education is the state’s responsibility, there are things council can do to support the families and students in our schools. We fund social infrastructure, such as United Way, FACTs, and libraries just to name a few. By supporting families we try to help foster an environment where students can learn. Our budget at the city of Flagstaff reflects our values. Folks at the capitol building down in Phoenix might learn from that.

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