Only one Upper Verde school district will have ballots

Cottonwood-Oak Creek only district with contested seats

VERDE VALLEY - Three school districts in Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Cornville and Jerome area, plus the Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education (VACTE) and Yavapai College all have open board seats that must be filled through appointment or election.

As it turns out, Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District is the only local district that will have contested school board seats, and therefore, even have a ballot. This district has three open seats and four candidates.

At Mingus Union High School, three seats for four-year terms are open. Four candidates had filed petitions and were eligible to be on the ballot for the Nov. 6 General Election.

But on Tuesday, candidate Rosalie Sperry withdrew her name from the board race. That leaves three uncontested candidates for the three seats. Consequently, Mingus Union District will not have to pay for printing ballots. Its new school board is already determined.

Brenda Zenan is the only incumbent to return to the five-member board. She was elected to the board in 2008. She had worked at the high school for about 18 months prior to running for the board. She worked in a split position between the front office and the bookstore.

Zenan retired from the Bureau of Land Management in 2005 after 33 years. During her time with the bureau Zenan managed a multi-billion-dollar land conveyance program in Alaska and supervised a staff of 80 employees.

She moved to Cottonwood from Alaska in 2003, and her daughter graduated from Mingus in 2006.

Anthony Lozano served on the Clarkdale-Jerome School District Governing Board for 20 years. He served in all aspects of the district's responsibilities. During that time he was involved in selecting three superintendents, new construction, and numerous training sessions.

Lozano also spent 30 years as an educator at Mingus Union High School.

Robb Williams is senior pastor at Verde Baptist Church. He oversees 15 employees, including the Christian School administrator, who in turn, manages 15 school employees and 110 students.

He is married to Sarah for 22 years, and for the next nine years, the couple will have three children making their way through Mingus Union. The oldest son is a special needs freshman at Mingus. He is on the golf team and was an honor student at Cottonwood Middle School.

Williams graduated from Elyra High School in Elyria, Ohio. He went on to earn a bachelor's and master's in Virginia. He also earned a doctorate from Trinity Seminary in Indiana. He worked in a mega church in Phoenix for 15 years as an associate pastor.

Clarkdale-Jerome District has two open four-year seats that are 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 and was elected in 2010 to a two-year term. But both open seats are now for four-year terms.

Zaske worked at Clarkdale-Jerome School for two years as a school counselor.

She and her husband, Joel, own and manage Verde Valley Hardware (ACE) in Cottonwood, and the couple has two children, both students at Northern Arizona University.

Zaske earned a bachelor's in special education for K-12 and a master' in school counseling for K-12.

Michael Gordon will become the other uncontested board member. He grew up in Camp Verde and went to Northern Arizona University where he earned his bachelor's in English. He then earned his law degree from Brigham Young University.

Gordon is a partner in Gordon & Gordon PLLC law firm. He serves as a board member on the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce. He also volunteers as a leader for the Boy Scouts.

Gordon and his wife, Janae, are parents of 14-year-old Kaylee, 10-year-old Olivia and 8-year-old Carter. All three children have attended Clarkdale-Jerome School.

VACTE has one uncontested candidate for two open seats. Charlene Day is the candidate for the open seat representing Clarkdale-Jerome School District. She lives in Clarkdale since 1999 and in the Verde Valley since 1969. She worked for the C-OC District as a medical secretary for two-years and also at Mingus Union for two years in the front office.

Day graduated from Flagstaff High School then became certified as an Emergency Medical Technician. She worked on an ambulance for four years. She has three daughters and one son.

A photograph was not available for Day.

Yavapai College's five Governing Board seats were realigned when the Yavapai County Board of Supervisor's districts were realigned to accommodate the board expanding from three supervisors to five.

All five board seats will expire Dec. 31, or because of the effect of redistricting become vacant as a matter of law on Jan.1

Some of the incumbents will simply be appointed by Tim Carter to fill out their original terms because their district seats are impacted through no fault or action of their own.

New District 1 is up for election for a six-year term. Incumbent Ray Sigafoos is running unopposed for re-election.

New District 3 is also up for election for a six-year term, and Robert Oliphant is running unopposed for his first term on the board.

Oliphant is a William Mitchell College of Law Professor Emeritus. He was a tenured faculty member at the University of Minnesota law school. He also was a law clerk on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and he served as associate dean at William Mitchell College of Law.

He has authored numerous books and articles. His current memberships include the Clarkdale-Cottonwood Kiwanis, board member of the Verde Valley Concert Association and president of the Greater Verde Valley Yavapai College Foundation.

Sigafoos has been on the Board of Governors for Yavapai College since 2006, and he served as Board Chair from January 2007 to December 2008.

He also served as a trustee for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for 28 years until March 2009. During that time he served in several capacities, including Vice Chair of the Board, Chair of the Finance Committee and as member of the executive committee.

He served as Board President of the George Phippen Memorial Foundation and was on the board from 1999 to 2004.

Sigafoos is owner of Raymond Sigafoos CPA PLLC since June 2004.

He earned a bachelor's in accounting from Northern Arizona University College of Business Administration. He was a member of the Alpha Beta Psi honorary accounting fraternity.

Cottonwood-Oak Creek is the only local district with contested seats. Its four candidates for the open three seats for four-year terms will all be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Mary Valenzuela is an incumbent running for re-election. She was appointed to the board in December 2010, and now she is running for election. She taught first grade at Cottonwood Elementary School for 39 years. She retired and then returned to CES as assistant principal for four years.

She and her husband, Bobby, have two children, a late son Timmy and daughter T.J. (Theresa Jean). Both graduated from Mingus and Arizona State University.

Eric Wyles is an incumbent running for re-election. He was appointed to the board in 2007 and was elected to the board in 2008. He has been on the board for five years and three months.

Wyles has three daughters. One daughter attended Mingus Union, and the other two went all the way through Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union districts.

Jason Little is challenging for one of the three open seats. He grew up in Indiana and has lived in Cottonwood for 15 years. He has worked for the City of Cottonwood's Parks and Recreation Department for 14 years, and he currently holds the position of recreation manager.

He earned a bachelor's from Indiana State University and a master's from the University of Phoenix. He has been married for eight years and has two children.

Little currently is a member of Kiwanis International (and president elect for 2013), and he is a member of the National Recreation and Parks Association. He also has been a class member of Verde Valley Leadership.

JoAnne Cook is also a challenger for one of the open seats on the C-OC District Board. Her family moved to Arizona from Ohio when she and her twin sister were four years old. She attended West Sedona School and then Cottonwood Middle School. She earned her high school diploma through accredited home schooling.

She has been married to Dave for 27 years, and the couple has raised two sons, Jeff and Mike. Both sons are graduates of Mingus Union and Northern Arizona University.

Cook served on the school PTO and began working part-time as a classroom, library and office aide. She eventually became attendance secretary at Dr. Daniel Bright School for six years. Then she moved to the district office as special education and special projects secretary for six years. Currently, she works as human resources coordinator and student data coordinator for Sedona-Oak Creek School District.


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