Gov. Katie Hobbs saves school board races from becoming partisan slugfests

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A bill to transform Arizona’s school board elections into partisan smackdowns has been sent to Gov. Katie Hobbs’ growing veto pile.

Sadly, it seems Hobbs just doesn’t understand the essential value of having school boards function like the Legislature or Congress.

OK, so hardly anybody understands the value of having politicians who act like they belong in the WWE.

But Sen. Justine Wadsack gets it.

This Tucson Republican is the author of the bill proposing that we make school board elections into knock-down, drag-out partisan affairs where there is us (good) and them (evil) and never the twain shall meet to actually accomplish anything.

Wadsack sees division, wants all partisan races

Sen. Justine Wadsack believes everything is determined by political ideology.
Sen. Justine Wadsack believes everything is determined by political ideology.

Politicizing school board elections has become all the rage in conservative circles, as sleepy school board meetings have erupted into cultural battlegrounds and low-budget school board races have become contentious referendums on “parents rights.”

Partisan school board elections, Wadsack promised, would be only a start.

“We should have partisan, maybe, partisan judges, maybe we should do partisan everybody, because right now the world is split, I think, and you have people that want to live their lives by one ideology and others that want to live by another, and they get to choose,” Wadsack said during a hearing on the bill in January.

“Where they want to be, where they want to live, where they send their children, which fire district they go to; all of that is determined by political ideology.”

Heaven help the Democrat who shows up at Wadsack’s house to fight a fire.

Or should I say the house where she rents a room, having moved out of her central Tucson where her family lives in 2022 so that she could run in a solidly Republican district.

She claims this is not about party politics

Wadsack’s Senate Bill 1097 would have required school board candidates to run as Republicans or Democrats (or independents), listing their party affiliation on the ballot.

Arizona is among the 41 states that have nonpartisan school board elections. Just four require partisan campaigns, as Wadsack wants to do. The rest leave it up to local communities.

Wadsack insisted her bill was “not about politicizing education” but about arming voters with information.

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“This reform is not about playing party politics.”

So said the woman who believes “we should do partisan everybody, because right now the world is split.”

The woman whose bill passed both the House and Senate on partisan party line votes.

Hobbs doesn't see school boards that way

Fortunately for Arizona’s public school children, Hobbs was a hard no.

“This bill will further the politicization and polarization of Arizona’s school district governing boards whose focus should remain on making the best decisions for students,” she wrote in her veto message. “Partisan politics do not belong in Arizona’s schools.”

Apparently, she doesn’t buy into Wadsack’s view of what ails Arizona public schools.

It’s politics.

We need more of it.


Reach Roberts at Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at @LaurieRoberts.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Hobbs vetoes bill to turn school board races into partisan slugfests