Robert Downey MUSD
Board president Robert Downey [Bryan Mordt photo]

The Maricopa Unified School District elected its newest member, Robert Downey, president of the governing board for 2022 at its meeting Wednesday.

Downey, who was nominated by Vice President AnnaMarie Knorr, was elected by a vote of 5-0. He replaces outgoing President Ben Owens, who served one year. He was asked to serve again but declined.

“The past year it’s been a growing time, and I appreciate the board’s support last January in electing me board president,” Owens said. “In working with (Superintendent) Dr. (Tracey) Lopeman and the whole team, we really do have a fantastic leadership team, the whole MUSD team. It’s been challenging as all of us know, but not an experience I’d trade.”

Board member Torri Anderson asked Owens if he would be interested in serving a second year as president, saying, “normally we like to carry over the presidency for two years just because it takes a year to learn how to do it and then another year to actually do the job.”

However, Owens said he does not have the time to devote to the presidency in order to do the job justice. “I would love to, but I can’t for this next year,” Owens said.

Knorr said she appreciated Owens’ leadership.

“I just want to say I think you’ve done a phenomenal job and I appreciate your leadership over the past year,” she said “Ms. Anderson and I both know how hard it is to be president, especially during all the tough decisions we’ve had to make. You’ve been a phenomenal leader in bringing consensus to the board.”

Knorr then asked if either Downey or the board’s fifth member, Jim Jordan, were interested in serving as president, as Owens, Knorr and Anderson had already held the office.

“I see our board as equals,” Knorr said. “We all have one vote out of five, but the president doesn’t really have any more power than the rest of us – they’ve got more work, but not more power. I think it’s a good opportunity I want everyone to experience while they’re on this board.”

Downey said he would be willing to serve as president, and said he has the time to fulfill the responsibilities.

“Give me a couple of months to see if this sinks in,” Downey said.

After that, Jordan was nominated as vice president for the coming year and elected unanimously as well. Downey and Jordan will serve one-year terms running through the first MUSD governing board meeting of 2023.