IB students host Governing Board Candidate Forum

Six candidates are running for three openings in the November 3 election. The forum allowed voters an opportunity to get to know them better.


Seniors in the IB Program hosted a Governing Board Forum on September 26. All six candidates running for election participated in the event.

“There are six candidates running for three available seats on the governing board, and this forum was an opportunity for voters to hear from each of them to help decide which ones to vote for in November,” said Lori Hart, a journalism teacher who helped organize the event. 

The event was held at the Fine Arts Center, but, due to COVID-19 health restrictions, the school district live-streamed the event. Janet Busbee, Jeff Fortney, James Rich, Teri Thatcher, Brianna Walker, and Trinity Wilson are running for board positions. Both Busbee and Rich are current board members seeking an additional term. Busbee was unable to attend in person, and appointed a proxy to read her answers to the questions.

“The meeting is [like] a debate so people know what everyone’s values are and to see who they would like to vote for,” said Kiera Reinhard, an IB student who volunteered to run lights for the evening. 

IB students organized the event. They invited the candidates to participate and chose the questions to ask. Two students acted as moderators, seniors Jessica Brashear and Nicole Quenzler. The moderators asked each candidate a variety of questions about topics affecting the school district. The candidates were allowed a certain amount of time to respond. Student timers held up cards to let the candidates know when their time was up.

“Nicole and I love working together to come up with what we are going to be saying and running through the speaking portion with each other,” said Brashear. “We divided up the portions and practiced presenting to one another.”

The candidates were asked questions about everything from how the district is handling COVID-19 to the lack of funding. The district has faced a shrinking budget for the past several years. In Arizona, unlike other states, school districts are not fully funded and instead rely on overrides and bonds, which must be approved by voters. Cave Creek has voted against overrides, which are tax increases, for the past twelve years, and has rarely approved bonds. This lack of funding means Cave Creek must operate on a more lean budget than neighboring districts like Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, whose overrides and bonds are generally approved.

“The role of a governing board member is very important because they are in positions of power making the decisions for our schools,” said Quenzler. “One of the most important decisions is how to attract and retain good teachers to provide the best education to the students in our district.”

Of the six candidates, only three, Fortney, Thatcher and Walker, said they were supporting the Invest in Ed proposition on the ballot this year, and several did not seem clear about whether or not they would be in favor of the district going out for overrides. All six candidates said they would not want to cut teacher salaries or increase class sizes. 

Both Thatcher and Wilson were very concerned about transparency, and indicated that many of the funding problems could be handled without significant cuts. Both Rich and Walker pointed out that the district’s budget is public record, and available for anyone to view.

The IB program has been hosting these forums every two years for the past fourteen years. 

“It was strange not having a live audience, because we missed out on that personal aspect of it due to the circumstances,” said Brashear. “However, I think that by having a virtual option, many people who may not have been able to attend, were able to participate and learn.”

For those who missed the forum, there is a recording of the event on the district website. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUxZJS_sXjQ Early voting begins this week, and election day is November 3.