It’s been nearly a month since the Arizona presidential preference primary, and still we haven’t gotten to what I consider the real election campaigns in 2016.
That will change in the next month, however, with the May 17 election on Prop. 123, followed by the summer-long primary campaigns in the Flagstaff region for city council, supervisor and state legislator, among others.
I know the national media will be focusing all summer on the national party conventions that will choose a presidential nominee. But let’s face it, the next time voters will see a presidential ballot will be in November. In the meantime, they have some local homework to do.
Our front-page story today on Prop. 123 is just the beginning. And in a city in which, on any given weekday, nearly 40,000 people are directly engaged in the business of education as either students or educators and staff, it’s a topic that ought to command close attention.
Throw in the family members of those 40,000 and the people they work with, and if you are not touched by education directly every day in Flagstaff, you lead a sheltered life.
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I could almost make the case that, for Flagstaff, May 17 is the biggest election of the year. When education is your city’s single biggest business, and the state of its funding in Arizona is in such dire need of reform, a ballot issue that sets the framework for public school funding for the next decade doesn’t get any more important.
Some would say education is a self-contained issue politically and financially – the city of Flagstaff and FUSD, for example, have separate revenue streams. I’d beg to differ, and our coverage over the years has demonstrated that. Schools are integral parts of city neighborhoods, from their free breakfasts to their after-school programs and playgrounds and ballfields.
And city businesses rely on a solid local school system to attract workers and keep families here. In the coming council campaign, look for this newspaper to put candidates on the record on a range of education issues, starting with Prop. 123.
The summer may not be the ideal time for local candidates to get voters’ attention. But the local campaign literally can’t wait – after Labor Day they will be swallowed by the national and top-level state campaigns. So May 17 is not the end of your homework, readers. There will quizzes right up to the final exam on Nov. 8.
Randy Wilson is editor of the Arizona Daily Sun. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (928) 556-2254