MUSD governing board candidates likely avoid election

Patti Coutré MUSD
Patti Coutré, shown here at a 2019 MUSD Governing Board meeting, served on the board for close to a decade. She looks to be ready to rejoin the board in January.

Barring any 11th-hour developments, the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board is set for the next two years – without an election.

The board will lose one of its current members – incumbent Ben Owens opted not to seek re-election – and gain a familiar face.

Three seats on the board are open for the November election – two with four-year terms and one with a two-year term, which represents the balance of the late Jim Jordan’s term. Jordan, who was elected in 2020 and became board vice president, passed away in February.

The four-year terms will be filled by current governing board president Robert Downey and Patti Coutre, who served on the board for a decade before resigning in 2020 to take a job with the district. Downey was appointed to complete Coutre’s term.

Gary Miller, appointed to the governing board after Jordan’s death, has filed to complete the balance of his predecessor’s term, it was confirmed Thursday by Tonya Taylor, chief deputy superintendent of Pinal County Schools. Confusion Wednesday about Miller’s intention to run for the two-year seat was cleared up Thursday by the county.

“We went back through our communication, and we have emails from Dr. Miller from prior to petitions being filed that his intent was to run for the two-year term,” Taylor said. “We have now confirmed him as running for the rest of Mr. Jordan’s term, which is two more years.”

The clarification eliminates the need for an election since each candidate has applied to run unopposed for the term they wish to serve.

Owens filed a candidate Statement of Interest for the election but did not file the required signatures as of the July 11 deadline. During the election of officers at the beginning of this year, he declined to serve again as president, citing time constraints. He was unavailable for comment on his decision not to run.

Three other potential candidates – Edward Farrell, Carla Munkirs and Darris Pedro – filed Statements of Interest to run for the governing board but did not submit signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Candidacies are not final until the expiration of a 10-day challenge period that began July 11.