Update: Cottonwood-Oak Creek has two new school board members

Challengers top vote getters push out one incumbent

Jason Little

Jason Little

COTTONWOOD - Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District will have two new governing board members - challengers JoAnne Cook and Jason Little. Both candidates were challengers in an election with two incumbents. And three open seats. Incumbent Mary Valenzuela won re-election, and incumbent Eric Wyles lost his bid to keep his seat.

Cooke took the most votes with 5,207 for 28.34 percent, and Little received 4,443 votes or 24.18 percent. Valenzuela came in third with 4,417 votes and 24.04 percent of the 18,372 total votes. Wyles received 4,232 votes, giving him 23.04 percent of the votes cast.

The district's board seats are four-year terms.

Although the newly elected board members won't officially be sworn in until the first board meeting in January, they will have opportunity to observe and come up to speed on the ongoing issue of shared services between the district and Mingus Union High School, including possibly sharing a superintendent.

COCSD and MUHS will meet Thursday, Nov. 15 at Yavapai College at 6 p.m. to hear a presentation and report on the Carolyn Warner Group study. That study was agreed to by both districts and funded by the office of Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter.

The Warner Group studied the viability of some shared services, including human resources. Both district's governing boards had decided to hold off on making any further decisions regarding shared services until the study was final.

Following the study report, both school boards are scheduled to meet in a joint session Tuesday, November 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the Mingus Union cafeteria.

Cook said Wednesday morning that she plans to attend those meetings.

"It's good to hear the report," she said. "That's what people are going to be working on."

She said she is looking forward to doing her part as a board member, and she is grateful to school board members for their dedication to the students and community.

"It's an honor," Cook said. "I look forward to the challenge. It is rewarding to be part of the students' education."

Both of these meetings are open to the public.

Mingus Union High School had three seats for four-year terms. Brenda Zenan is the only incumbent to return to the five-member board. Two other candidates, Anthony Lozano and Robb Williams were both on the original ballot and automatically given board seats without an election.

Lozano served on the Clarkdale-Jerome School District Governing Board for 20 years. Williams is senior pastor at Verde Baptist Church.

Clarkdale-Jerome District had two open four-year seats that were uncontested. Jill Zaske is an incumbent who was appointed to the board in 2008 by Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter when the board was expanded from three members to five. She then ran in 2010 and was elected to a two-year term.

Michael Gordon will become the other uncontested board member. He is a partner in Gordon & Gordon PLLC law firm.

VACTE had one uncontested candidate for two open seats. Charlene Day was the candidate for the open seat representing Clarkdale-Jerome School District. She worked for the C-OC District as a medical secretary for two-years.

Yavapai College had two candidates for two uncontested Governing Board seats. District 1 was up for election for a six-year term. Incumbent Ray Sigafoos was running unopposed. District 3 also had an uncontested seat for a six-year term. Robert Oliphant was running unopposed for his first term on the board.

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